By most standards, National Manufacturing Week is a big trade show what with 2000 exhibitors and 40,000 antcipated at Rosement’s, Illinois’ Donald G. Stephens Convention Center this week.It actually is five shows rolled into one and last year Reed Exhibitions, a sister company to Reed Business Information which owns Design News, ran the show. Now it’s run by Canon Communications Inc. of Los Angeles.
It’s day two at the show and seems pretty busy, but one glaring omission was the absence of keynote speeches. I mentioned that to a show exectuive who seemed to agree, and I said you need someone like Colin Powell, he scoffed "do you know how much he costs?" Well into six figures, I’m sure.
Keynotes provide context, trends and excitement around the exhibits not mention they get a goodly slug of attendees to come early. As it stands, NMW is just a bunch of exhibits. A keynoters could have talked about U.S competitiveness, offshoring, lean six sigma…you name it and stuck those themes in the heads of showgoers as they walked about the floor. What’s more, they provide for good stories for our e-newsletters. Bill Gates was always an able table setter at CES and the former Comdex show.
So next year Canon, I highly recommend keynoters. They don’t have to be Colin Powell — just get some good speakers who can set the context for the state of manufacturing. In fact, how about a State of Manufacturing address?
One other nit: the press room had one measly PC, no free wireless and served bags of pretzels and cookies for lunch. Pretyy cheesey. Also, the conference program as described in the show guide didn’t look like anything to write home about and few were milling about near the sessions when they were being held.
I give NMA a B- for its strong exhibits and steady floor trafic. And with improvements in the conferences and the restoration of the keynotes, it could rise to a B+ instantly.