IFAI Expo Asia 2011 roared into Singapore, the lion city, March 22-25, and provided a new much-needed technical textiles forum for the Asia Pacific region. The combined trade exhibition and educational symposiums, held at the glittering new Marina Bay Sands Convention Center, covered the spectrum of cutting-edge developments occurring in the specialty fabrics industry.
Participants were quick to comment. “This was the show that we were missing in Southeast Asia,” said Eike Eberle, SIOEN Coated Fabrics (Shanghai). “It was held at exactly the correct location. If you are holding another show in Singapore next year, we are definitely interested in participating again.”
Frank Sinclair, president and CEO, Sinclair Equipment Co., said, “The show has been wonderful for us. Excellent location. We’re very happy and we would do it again in a heartbeat.”
Ni Guangping, general manager, Zhejiang Xingyida Reinforced Material Co. Ltd., was glad his company had participated. “We had to borrow extra chairs for all the visitors in our booth. We met several potential clients here who are now going to visit our factory.”
The event, organized by the Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI), attracted more than 1,400 registered participants from 39 countries. Large buyer delegations came from Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, China, Australia and Japan, as well as a surprising number of visitors from North America, Africa, Middle East and Europe. The visitor survey overwhelmingly showed that participants were looking for matchmaking opportunities.
Notable dignitaries attending included Sujit Gulati, Joint Secretary of India”s Ministry of Textiles; Rory Holmes, president of INDA, the nonwovens association in North America; and Pierre Wiertz, general manager of EDANA, the nonwovens association located in Europe.
Exhibitors came from 18 countries and included the largest U.S. contingent ever to participant in a technical textile show in the Asia Pacific region. IFAI Expo Asia 2011 was supported by the Singapore Tourism Board and the U.S. Department of Commerce, and was awarded the prestigious U.S. Trade Fair certification designation.
IFAI president Steve Warner acknowledged their contribution: “The work done by U.S. Commercial Service offices and Singapore Tourism Board in bringing buyers to the show was outstanding.”
U.S. exhibitor Jeff Sponseller, executive vice president-sales, Miller Weldmaster Corp., agreed: “This show has taken a lot of our leads and quotes to that next level. I was impressed with the diversity of the audience we’ve seen here from all over Asia. Also with the number and quality of the people who came to our booth. These were qualified buyers. It exceeded my expectations.”
A personal message came from U.S. President Barack Obama to exhibitors and visitors supporting IFAI Expo Asia 2011, emphasizing the importance of cooperation within the international business community. In a letter published in the show directory, he said that by opening new markets and promoting trade, new sales channels are being created for the exhibitors’ products and services.
Organized concurrently with the exhibition were state-of-the-industry technical symposiums drawing large attendance. Under the leadership of Professor Roshan Shishoo, an international advisory team comprised of leading industry experts organized symposiums that included applications for geosynthetics, nonwovens, automotive applications and e-textiles. All of the sessions were designed to address emerging manufacturing opportunities in the Asia Pacific region.
The advisory members:
IFAI Expo Asia 2011 was all about making connections throughout the value chain. Companies exhibiting were on many different levels within the Asia Pacific market. Some were at an entry level, looking for help in connecting with partners. Others had already been marketing within China, for example, but wanted to expand in Southeast Asia. One visitor interviewed was part of a division that was new to Asia, even though other divisions in the company had been there for years. Others were introducing new products and looking for distributors.
They all had one goal in common—access to new buyers—and the show accomplished that for participants, both exhibitors and attendees.
IFAI expects to announce the dates and location of the next IFAI Expo Asia in the near future.
Herculite CEO Peter McKernan, IFAI chairman of the board, noted: “I think that there will be more people from the States who will want to be a part of it. There is a tremendous interest in the region in high-performance fabrics, and it”s really important to be a part of that for our company, and for IFAI to be a part of that. IFAI Expo Asia 2011 was well done all the way around. We will be coming back.”