Friday, October 20, 2017
With only weeks to go until the show, Steve Hutin, the managing director of Rope and Sling Specialists Ltd., looks forward to exhibiting at LiftEx for the first time.
There is a lot of talk in industry about us making our debut at LEEA’s annual trade show, LiftEx, which takes place 29-30 November at The International Centre Telford.
People have been asking plenty of questions:
Where is your stand?
What floor space have you got?
What products will you show?
Will you have giveaways?
Have you printed new graphics?
How many orders do you hope to get?
We welcome the interest but we’ve approached the show from a different angle. Instead of looking at the stand as its own entity, we hope to create a LiftEx exhibit that represents our company and gives visitors a sample of our values, goals, customers, expertise and people.
We don’t want visitors walking away thinking, ‘nice exhibit’, we want them saying to each other, ‘great company’, ‘what knowledgeable people’, and ‘I bet it’s great to work there’.
Thus, when we booked our stand (D12) almost a year ago, we asked ourselves different questions:
How can we make the exhibit a window on Rope and Sling’s (RSS) world?
How can we differentiate ourselves from the competition?
What do we want visitors to remember us for?
How can we promote culture, training and product?
How can we capture the essence of our rapidly expanding, people-orientated business within some temporary walls upon an exhibition carpet?
We don’t really want to let products get in the way of our message, whereas many other exhibitors will stack their stands full of kit. The expo will be chock-a-block with rigging gear. There’ll be more slings than one knows what to do with and an array of hooks and shackles to go with them. That’s without mentioning all the chain, software and other ancillary kit on offer.
Throughout our planning meetings we were mindful that it’s difficult for visitors to remember a certain supplier or decipher which product is best suited to their requirements when everyone is saying his or hers is the best, strongest, cheapest and is supported by the best expertise and fastest service.
Once we’d decided what we wanted to achieve, it was a case of putting a team in place to deliver those goals:
Alan Varney, operations director
Ron Harrison, regional manager
Sadie Cresswell, sales and hire coordinator
We didn’t ask for volunteers or pull people’s names out of a hat. Over the two days of the show, we want to offer visitors a mix of backgrounds, expertise and specialist knowledge. I never feel comfortable on a potential supplier’s exhibit when they’ve got too many marketing people pushing product into my hands, or a top-heavy representation of board members in sharp suits and shiny shoes.
I want to get to know the real company; the one that I might need to call upon at 2am on a January morning when a customer needs to rig a heavy section of pipe to a crawler crane. And it’s snowing!
Practically, Al and I might man the stand on the opening day, while Sadie and Ron will tag in for day two. Our goal is to keep the team fresh and engaged with visitors. I understand how frustrating it can be to walk onto a stand and find everyone sat down on his or her laptops.
(This isn’t a blog about stand etiquette but it goes without saying Al has been told he can’t eat on the exhibit!)
I’ve always been wary of fixing too many appointments at trade shows. I’ve been invited to many meetings at, say, 11:30am and still been waiting for the person to turn up at midday. Events are pressured environments and people get pulled in different directions. We’ve got a few scheduled appointments but in the main our intent is to go with the flow.
Whilst it’s worth introducing yourself to those you want to catch up with in the weeks leading up to the show, I’d advise against filling the diary with Appointment 1 at 10am, Appointment 2 at 10:15am and so on. By lunchtime you’ll be way off track!
Throughout the show we will place emphasis on people. While we source and manufacture world-class below-the-hook equipment, engineering expertise and fully trained personnel complete the package. When a visitor shows an interest in our exhibit, we will quickly decipher where and how they use rigging gear and apply our entire offering to their application.
When I’m an attendee at a trade fair, I want to know how someone can apply their business to my world; I’m not interested in why they feel they’re the best because of what they’ve done for someone else. I’ll keep that in mind on 29-30 November.
Six out of 10
Scale is important too. Earlier this year, we opened our sixth UK facility in Warrington, close to the heavy lift depot of Ainscough Crane Hire. Alan, Ron, Sadie and myself will paint a clear picture of where we are as a company and how we intend to grow to 10 sites across the UK. There will be no mileage in pretending we are bigger or smaller than we are; that will unravel in time.
Honesty and integrity are foundations for long, loyal relationships and we’ll start with new contacts at LiftEx as we mean to carry on.
Alan, Ron, Sadie and their colleagues are best equipped to explain to people why RSS is a good company to work for, but I hope they will allude to a family-friendly culture that rewards people for their goals and invests in their personal and professional development.
We have recently implemented a profit-based bonus system in targeted areas, for example. Ok, LiftEx visitors aren’t going to want to be bored by the details but we do want to give them a flavour for what we are all about.
We’ll also be showcasing our training offering. Whilst keeping our own staff at the forefront of technical knowledge, we regularly run courses for third-party representatives. Recently, we put 400 Tata Steel professionals through a slinging and rigging course. Such case studies will be useful in support of literature as we engage with what we anticipate will be a varied demographic in Telford.
See you at Stand D12!
Thank you for reading.
Rope and Sling Specialists Ltd