The IFAI Expo 2022 is in the books. It was, as we note on the cover, an energizing event. Why? Because, according to exhibitors and attendees I spoke with on the show floor, it was the first one in three years to feel “right.” Moods were high and exhibit hall traffic was good.
During the pandemic, Expo 2020 was, by necessity, a virtual event. Although last year’s return to a live event was triumphant, it missed many of the overseas manufacturers who still faced travel restrictions. This year, even in the face of outrageous travel costs, IFAI Expo and Sun Shading Expo North America attendees made a strong showing. That is reflected in the numbers: 314 exhibitors and 4,200 attendees representing 46 countries, all significant increases over last year.
I spoke with a few first-time attendees who were impressed not only by all the new products they saw, but also with the education tracks that were offered. One first-timer from California told me she picked up many good ideas to take back to her shop and share with her employees. That’s one of the great things about this event–it’s as much about education as it is about products.
As in past years, networking opportunities proved to be a highlight of the three-day event. People reconnected with old friends and made some new ones. Those who attended Industry Night at the Charlotte Beer Garden (featuring the world’s largest selection of draft beers available in one restaurant) were treated to a great performance by Hangin’ by a Thread, a top-flight band made up of industry members playing classic rock songs.
If you had wanted to go to Expo 2022 but were turned off by the high cost of travel, you should plan to make it a budget item for next year. You won’t regret it.
As you know, earlier this year Industrial Fabrics Association International became the Advanced Textiles Association to better reflect the growing range of the industry. Likewise, Expo 2023 will be rebranded as the Advanced Textiles Expo. We hope to see you there.