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India – Different and Wonderful

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An insider's perspective on IMTEX 2015
By Bill Herman, Event Development Director, AMT - The Association For Manufacturing Technology

Many companies in the manufacturing technology industry have considered taking their businesses abroad by exhibiting in an international trade show. Some have been doing it for years! But what's it really like? We asked one of our show organizers, Bill Herman, to give us an insider's perspective on IMTEX, held January 22-28, 2015, in Bangalore, India.

“Bill, can you go to India to work with our exhibitors in the AMT/USA Pavilion at IMTEX?” It sounded pretty straight forward. I've produced trade shows for over 25 years and have worked on shows in 21 countries...how different could it be, right? Answer: Plenty different — but wonderful.

India is a collision of sensory experiences. It's dirty and dusty and crowded. It's peaceful and beautiful and colorful and temple-filled. It's smiling and patient. In many parts of the city, it smells like delicious food. It's bureaucratic and inefficient. It has good music.

Moving in a trade show in India is occasionally frustrating, sometimes confusing, and always dusty. But it's worth it. The sheer scale of their economy presents the need for manufacturing technology in extraordinary volume. This was my second time organizing a show in India and I've learned to maintain a loose grip; guiding things in the direction I want them to go. Everything is possible; but perhaps not this moment.

Nearly 20 companies participated in IMTEX, collectively occupying nearly 500 square meters of space. Before this year's show, several companies shared with me their apprehensions. They'd been operating in India for years and needed to see some signs of growth to warrant a continued commitment. After the show, that apprehension was replaced by genuine enthusiasm. Companies are optimistic about India's future and excited about what lies ahead in the next several years.

Companies that have been working in India for years have also gained a good understanding of how to succeed culturally. They exude a calm grasp of the subtleties of doing business and I learn a lot from them every time I visit.

For example, pack some extra patience. Indian people are wonderfully warm and friendly and they want you to be the same. India is the land of the 3-minute handshake. Don't pull away...you'll get your hand back when the time is right. You won't believe how much more you will smile when you do business in India, simply because the people you're working with are smiling at you.

In traffic, however, you may want to just take a nap; it's easier on your heart. With over 8 million people in Bangalore, the second fastest growing city in India, infrastructure has not caught up to the needs of the city. New freeways and metro trains are coming online each year and the city teems with new technology, but your commute will be dotted with bouts of severe gridlock, zigzagging around cows grazing on city streets and families of five riding next to you on their scooter.

Needless to say, visiting India is an incredible experience and I feel very fortunate to have been chosen to work there. And with the business opportunities that lie ahead for this industry, I look forward to going back for many years to come.

If you're an AMT member who would like to learn more about the AMT/USA Pavilion, visit amtpavilions.com.

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