Plastics Expo ‘Breaks the Mold’ in Orlando

Plastics Expo ‘Breaks the Mold’ in Orlando
Plastics Expo ‘Breaks the Mold’ in Orlando
Plastics Expo ‘Breaks the Mold’ in Orlando

The move by NPE, the International Plastics Showcase, to the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, April 1-5, from Chicago—where it has resided for 40 years—has paid off. The event, held April 1-5, attracted an estimated 16,000 visitors, representing a 16 percent increase from the year prior.

“Moving from Chicago to Orlando was the first initiative in SPI’s strategy of ‘breaking the mold,’ by creating a broader-based and more exciting NPE with new benefits for exhibitors and visitors,” says William R. (Bill) Carteaux, president and CEO of Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI), which produces the triennial NPE. “Three years of work by SPI and the NPE Committee has given the industry an NPE2012 that not only substantially surpasses the recession-era NPE2009 in size and scope, but is in line with the greatest NPE successes of the past.”

Orlando was able to convince NPE to make the historic move by concentrating on a “value proposition” combining the ability to handle a show of the magnitude of NPE, with the attractions and location able to draw quality buyers, Gary Sain, president/CEO of Visit Orlando, tells EXPO.

The deal actually began in 2009, when Sain and his team attended the NPE show in Chicago as a guest of SPI. “We looked at the floor in Chicago and did a lot of due diligence,” Sain recalls. “It takes great courage as well as a lot of analysis and soul searching by a board, a tradeshow committee and other key stakeholders on the board, to go through the decision-making process to move a show.”

Visit Orlando successfully landed SPI’s business by “due diligence—working through reams of information and analysis,” Sain says. Of most importance to SPI’s board, Sain says, was the “huge, and powerful, cost advantage” of moving the show.

The end result was a successful show that attracted as estimated 16,000 visitors, representing a 16 percent boost in attendance. With plastics vital to so many industries, NPE 2012 attendees wield $100 billion of purchasing power, Sain says.

(“BREAKING THE MOLD”: William R. (Bill) Carteaux, President and CEO of
SPI,at left, is joined on NPE 2012 opening day by Orange Country Mayor
Theresa Jacobs and Visit Orlando President and CEO Gary Sain.)

Also of particular note: The Orange County Convention Center was able to readily truck in the four-story-high machinery that some of the 1,900 exhibitors showcased. In fact, the show had “close to 20 million pounds of working machinery—close to 22 fully loaded Boeing 747s,” according to SPI.

Orlando’s convention center could handle it all, Sain says. As a result, exhibitors were able to set up within their scheduled time, and have ample energy to then man their booths effectively, he says. Compared to the NPE 2009 event, “what is amazing is the exhibitors’ energy level is so much more prominent on the floor, because they didn’t have to work until midnight in the three days leading up to the show,” Sain told EXPO on a call from the show floor.

Gateway to Latin America

The other key factor in hosting a show in Orlando, Sain adds: “Orlando is becoming the gateway to South America. Orlando is a well-known brand and held in high esteem in South America. We attract 500,000-600,000 Brazilian [leisure] travelers a year—and it’s double-digit of that for business travelers from Brazil. Exhibitors at NPE told me they saw incredible new interest in South America at this year’s show, and made a lot of sales on the show floor.

“I am sure the final numbers will show a nice contingent from South America drove NPE 2012 sales,” Sain says.

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