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February 5, 2016

Americas: When Competition Strikes, It’s Time to Join Forces

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In 2012, the Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering, a global professional member society, and the American Composites Manufacturers Association, the composites industry’s largest global trade group, realized they had a shared problem. JEC Group, a for-profit company that organizes a 30,000-attendee trade show for the composites industry every year in Paris, was taking its show state-side, posing a formidable threat to both organizations’ annual meetings. While this wasn’t the first time competing trade shows had been launched in their space, but it was the largest and most well-known group to do so.

Gregg Balko, FASAE, CAE, CEO of the Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering, and Heather Rhoderick, CMP, CAE, senior vice president, events and information, with the American Composites Manufacturers Association, share some of what they learned during the process of creating a new, combined annual meeting.Both organizations had weathered the recession relatively well. But this? “We knew we were both going to feel the fallout,” says Gregg Balko, FASAE, CAE, the CEO of SAMPE. As often happens with successful association annual meetings, both shows had been cruising along without their organizers giving a lot of thought as to how to change them up, attract new attendees and exhibitors, or increase revenues. Word of the new competition, says Balko, was a “wakeup call.”

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