German, U.S. Ties Strengthened Via SMM Partnership
As reported in the last issue of MR/EN, the U.S. was selected as the partner country for SMM '96, scheduled for early October Hamburg, Germany. While exhibition tie-in does not usually make the heart quicken, this one might. The partnership is being described by both the U.S. and German sides as an unprecedented opportunity for U.S. companies to make significant inroads to international markets.
While there is the requisite amount of salesmanship accompanying many of the messages, they should not be dismissed as preshow hype. The exhibition and conference is widely regarded as a top-notch event, and at the last exhibition in 1994, world shipbuilding leader Japan was the partner country.
At a recent luncheon in Washington D.C. promoting the event, Dr. Jiirgen Rohweder, chairman of the advisory board of SMM '96 said that there are several reasons why the U.S. is the ideal partner country.
"Partnership with the world's foremost economic power strengthens the position of the SMM '96 as the leading international shipbuilding trade fair," he said. "The American shipbuilding industry is on the way to returning to merchant shipbuilding," and the trade fair is more of a marketplace for solid business.
The announcement of the partnership coincided with a Maritime Administration- sponsored trade mission to visit German shipyards, a mission that included 14 U.S. marine suppliers (see list, this page). The trip was a success by many accounts, and Dr. Rohweder, who is also with Kiel-based HDW, said, "Our marine shipyards are definitely interested in buying in the dollar area." "We've always had an interest (in doing business more extensively in Europe) and this complemented our efforts to date," said Thomas F. McGrath, vice president marketing/ sales, Hopeman Brothers, Inc., who personally went on the trade mission.
"European shipyards are restructuring to remain competitive in the face of high domestic labor and material costs, falling prices for new ships and low dollar exchange rates," John Graykowski, Deputy Maritime Administrator for Inland Waterways and Great Lakes, told the Shipbuilders Council of America (SCA). "Since many international vessel sales are in U.S.
dollars, and in order to reduce foreign exchange risks, German and Danish shipyards are interested in developing lower-cost, dollar denominated suppliers." Opportunities Await U.S. Companies Hamburg has become synonymous for innovation as the site of SMM, the Shipbuilding, Machinery and Marine Technology Exhibition and Conference. SMM has evolved into what many consider the best international event for the maritime industry. SMM '94 hosted 829 exhibitors from more than 30 countries, which effectively filled to capacity the 12 glassdomed halls (approximately 450,000 sq. ft.).
According to Professor Franz Zeithammer, president of Hamburg Messe (the city's trade show organization), "SMM exhibitors realize that they will be able to connect with their prime customers, some 33,000 serious top and middle-management trade visitors from 50 countries. Close to 70 percent of visitors to SMM are top decision makers who can sign the check." Since the U.S. maritime industry is being featured at SMM '96 as the official partner country, key U.S. maritime trade associations and Hamburg Messe's U.S. representative have been meeting regularly to develop an outstanding presence and profile for the U.S. Pavilion, which is prominently located in Entrance Hall 1. A recent luncheon in Washington hosted by Hamburg Messe to preview SMM '96 to 60 industry executives presented a strong case for participating in the event. Said one attendee who has already decided to exhibit at SMM, "The Pavilion give U.S. companies an unbelievable stage on which to present our qualifications, capabilities, innovation and competitive advantages. We'd be stupid to pass it up." To make the application, registration, exhibit design, company specific promotion and travel arrangements as simple as possible, Hamburg Messe's U.S. representative may be contacted at tel: (304) 263-7342; fax: (304) 263- 7414. "Applying right away is advised since SMM sells out early, and we want to make sure that U.S. companies have the best accommodations and services," said U.S. representative Mary Colburn- Green.