COMPOSITES 2013 stimulated the eye with impressive new products and live demonstrations. It also fueled the mind and attendees left Orlando, Fla., with insight to grow their businesses.
The largest composites event in North America provided a spark of energy to an industry that’s intent on communicating its advantages and competing against traditional materials – aluminum, steel, concrete and wood.
“If you only make one good connection or learn about one new type of technology, then the show is more than worthwhile,” says Michael J. Hoke, president of Reno, Nev.-based Abaris Training Resources Inc. “That is what I come for and what is now valuable to me and my company.”
Now that the conference is in the rear-view mirror, here are six themes that resonate from it. Keep them in mind as the industry moves into the future:
Attendees were making connections — with exhibitors, new products and each other — inside the Orange County Convention Center.
“This is a great time to look at your business and see where the opportunities lie,” says Jonathan Sgarlata of Bradley Corporation. “There is so much creativity built into the products and processes that successful solutions require a team effort across organizations. There is no place more streamlined to do that than COMPOSITES.”
For all the merits of online research, email introductions and video conferencing, nothing replaces meeting face to face. While much of the value of COMPOSITES took place on the show floor and education rooms, connections were made and business was done in hallways, elevators, local restaurants and after-work receptions where attendees met for meaningful conversations.
Many composites firms have entered new markets and diversified their product lines. COMPOSITES was filled with niche strategies and new opportunities in wind energy, infrastructure/corrosion, international business and other growth markets.
“The global composites material market is on the rise, and we continue to forecast significant growth over the next five years,” said Chuck Kazmierski, program manager of Lucintel, before leading the education session “Growth Opportunities in the Global Composites Market 2013-2018.” He discussed a recent study that predicts growth in sectors such as pipe and tank, transportation, wind and construction.
One example of industry diversification is Robal Glass, a line of products made from a combination of recycled post-consumer, pre-landfill glass and bio-based resins, and sold by Monroe Industries, Inc. The product line’s vanity tops, shower bases, wall surfaces, table tops and more are cast into a variety of shapes, sizes and colors and are designed to help architects qualify for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) points. “A smart manufacturer is not afraid to be creative or scared to try something new,” said John Webster, president of Monroe Industries.