Mixed impressions from first UK Fastener Expo 13 November 2019

Prysm Group launched its first Fastener Exhibition & Conference at the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre on 11th – 12th September. Pre-show promotion was exuberant, the reality didn’t really live up to it. Some exhibitors came away satisfied, others most definitely not.

The first time show was launched as an extension of events primarily focused on waste management, contamination and flood management. Prysm promised a “complete international showcase of market leading fastener and fixing technologies with 100 exhibitors, 50 speakers and a best in show award”.

100 exhibitors, there were not. The show guide listed less than seventy-five and on the day seven named stands were unoccupied. The largest contingent, around 64% of exhibitors, came from China. Six exhibitors were media or associations, almost certainly exchanges for pre-show promotion. We counted a total of eleven UK exhibitors.

Most exhibitors reported that first day visitor traffic had been thin, and it remained so on the second day. Simpson Strong-Tie had the busiest stand and Marketing Manager Kyle Perry was upbeat afterwards. “Our stand being interactive was a real selling point.” Location, en route to the coffee bar and on the cusp of the main show area, also helped as it seemed did Simpson’s own pre-show promotional efforts. Understandably, the company won the organisers’ ‘Best in Show Award’.

Luca Brancaleoni, export manager at VITAL SpA, told us: “Frankly speaking we did not see a lot of people.” However, he went on: “We have had some good leads, which is what we were looking for.” His overall conclusion: “Positive experience.” Would VITAL rebook? Probably, he said, but only after the BREXIT outcome was clearer.

Jackie Luciano, vice-president of New Jersey-based Zago Manufacturing Products, told us: “Unfortunately, I cannot say it was worth participating, considering the cost and expense of flying all the way from the US. The reason mostly was because there was hardly any traffic/visitors; we expected much more traffic than we got.”

Sertel Screw described the event as “not bad considering it is a first show” and said they would rebook. Zygology, in contrast, described the show as very poor with no intention of coming back. Turkish nut manufacturer, Som Civata, said they had not really made any connections in their target automotive market. Bond-It said: “Quiet yesterday, not much good. However, we gained a couple of contacts that might pay for the stand,” which they revealed had been booked late at a heavily discounted rate.

The Keynote Theatre in the middle of the fastener area was very good but it was not occupied by fifty speakers. The seminar programme included fourteen presentations from eleven speakers. The quality of presentations we saw was very good. Jackie Luciano made a deeply heartfelt plea for engagement with the next generation of manufacturing professionals, debunking many myths about manufacturing, and advocating real commitment to sustainability as a core value to convince next generation engineers.

Nimeka de Silva of Bumax also chose sustainability as a key theme arguing that the resilience of stainless steel materials and their recyclability, met increasing concerns to maximise lifecycles and reduce total life cycle costs. Unfortunately, neither engaged an audience of more than ten people and none of the other seminars we saw were better attended.

Prysm Group has announced the next fastener event will be 16th – 17th September 2020 and says 71% of 2019 exhibitors have already signed up. That would suggest there will again be a preponderance of Chinese exhibitors unless the organisers can, as they clearly did not this time round, convince members of the UK and European fastener industry that the event really is for them.

Executive Editor

Phil Matten Executive Editor t: +44 (0) 1727 814 400

Biog

Having held senior management roles in leading automotive and fastener businesses, Phil joined Fastener + Fixing Magazine as editor in 2002. Convinced there is no substitute for ‘being there’, over 17 years of visits and interviews around the world means he has accumulated an extraordinary knowledge and perspective of the global fastener industry, reflected in his incisive and thought provoking reporting.