When the Metal Center News staff gathers, as we’ve been doing remotely since the pandemic began, one topic is routinely trotted out: What will FABTECH look like?
Next month, we get our answer.
FABTECH, the largest trade show for the metalworking community, returns in September to McCormick Place in Chicago after its COVID-related absence. This is the first version to be held in September, a determination made long before the pandemic was a consideration for anyone.
Last year’s show planned for Vegas wasn’t the only casualty of the coronavirus, of course. Three other FABTECH shows, plus a similar event in Europe and the off-year IMTS in September were all canceled. It’s been a very long time since men and women have had the opportunity to wear out shoe leather and gaze longingly at the latest developments in processing and manufacturing equipment.
In a similar vein, later this month the country’s leading steel executives will reconvene in Atlanta for Steel Market Update’s Steel Summit. While there have been a few in-person events for the metals supply chain, none is the kind of draw that SMU’s get-together in Georgia has become. We’ll get our first glimpse there how attendance has been affected, if at all, by the suddenly, and despondingly, reinvigorated pandemic.
There’s no question that most participants in the metals world are eager to take off the shackles after the unprecedented previous 18 months. Salespeople are ready to get back on the road, meeting customers and
potential customers face to face.
But surely there are some in the space who remain cautious. Perhaps their company was hit particularly hard by the coronavirus, or they’re an individual with a pre-existing health condition that leaves them more vulnerable to COVID-19 and its potentially lethal effects.
Additionally, shows such as FABTECH are magnets for international companies, ones that either have a strong presence in North America or are looking to get a toehold in this prosperous market. While getting to Chicago from a plant in South Dakota is manageable, even in the later stages of a pandemic, the same isn’t necessarily true if the origin is Spain or Seoul. Might those foreign firms be a little hesitant to join the fun at McCormick Place, perhaps choosing caution over valor, at least for the time being?
One thing seems certain, long before we visit our first booth. We will see a variety of responses among the attendees and exhibitors. Some will be masked and engaging in social distancing, not yet ready to return to normal. Others, freed by Chicago’s “fully open” designation, will treat this as business as usual.
Each of these responses is valid and worthy of our respect.
Here’s hoping for an enjoyable, safe and prosperous FABTECH for all of you. We’ll be there, at Booth A5137.