The evolutionary history of a dynamic trade fair

The steinexpo is now grown up out of the testing stage and also the exhibitors are expecting a further growth on success. The trade fair is held in a three-year cycle. By means of ­impressive live demonstrations against the backdrop of a magnificent stone quarry, manufacturers and dealers of building and works machinery, heavy vehicles and SKWs as well as plants for reclamation and treatment of materials put their service performance on display. The recycling of mineral building materials represents another focus point. The stein expo is organised by Geoplan GMBH, Iffezheim. About the process and preparation of this year’s exhibition we asked the chief PhD Friedhelm Rese.

AT INTERNATIONAL: The 8th steinexpo is about to take place. Are you getting excited in the run-up to the event or are you cool and calm?

Rese: Certainly a bit of both: For one thing, almost 20 years of steinexpo experience have allowed some time for a certain composure to set in; in other words, one is not thrown off track so quickly by unavoidable incidents. On the other hand, every steinexpo is a new challenge. Because due to its ­dynamic nature this trade fair is certainly anything but “normal”. Yes, beyond the basic composure I‘m still very excited to this day!

AT INTERNATIONAL: When you look at the evolution of the steinexpo, what in your view has changed or developed from the first to the current event. Are there development goals that you still strive for?

Rese: The steinexpo has certainly gone through a very eventful development: In the early 1990s, shortly after ­German reunification, it was the ideal platform for transferring knowledge and ideas for machines; there was indeed an immense need for catching up. Then, when markets were declining, many have questioned its continuation. Since the turn of the century it has steadily developed into the trade fair where the entire industry for construction raw materials meets to view machinery and equipment demonstrated live under realistic conditions. The objective is to further develop the internationalisation of the steinexpo. This is also evident when looking at the exhibitors who registered for this year’s event; however still keeping a special focus on domestic markets!

AT INTERNATIONAL: Which changes in the structure of exhibitors and/or applications and programme announcements by some of the major players did you find particularly pleasing?

Rese: Firstly, I am very pleased that the entire spectrum of the engineering industry for our industries is represented at steinexpo 2011. It is noteworthy that from drilling equipment over treatment and preparation to reloading, the full “range” will be on view for visitors. Moreover, the excellent response from screen manufacturers, who registered in numbers not yet seen before this year‘s trade fair, must be mentioned. And finally, the manufacturers of construction machinery this year will also use steinexpo to present their latest generations of machinery. Overall, more new products and innovations are presented than at the previous trade fairs.

AT INTERNATIONAL: Do you also notice a different view of the exhibitors at this trade fair?

Rese: Among exhibitors, the steinexpo has noticeably gained in importance. Nowhere else do they have the opportunity to present their products under such realistic conditions than at this demonstration exhibition. Another aspect is the fact that the steinexpo is a proven specialist fair for trade visitors. With a trade visitor share of more than 90 %, the target groups of the exhibitors are almost fully represented.

This trade fair has always had the support of the faithful: Partners who firmly believed in the concept from the outset and even during times of turmoil. Right from the outset, the German Aggregates Federation (MIRO) (formerly the Association of the Natural Stone Industry) has thrown its weight behind the trade fair in the stone quarry. Other associations later added their support. In the meantime, the European Aggregates Association (UEPG), the trade association for building and building material machinery within the Association of German Machinery and Plant Manufacturing (VDMA) and the German Association for Construction Industry Engineers and Professionals (VDBUM) have taken over technical and conceptual sponsorships. In these partners, the steinexpo also reflects the entire industry. At this point, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all those responsible!

AT INTERNATIONAL: At the last fair in 2008, one stage of the Truck Trail championships took place concurrent with the trade fair. Has it proven itself, is it scheduled again and what other special events are there this time?

Rese: The Truck Trial races at this year’s steinexpo stone won’t be just “normal” races; the organisers have decided to stage the European Championship finals during the trade fair and thus increase the appeal of this event even more. Furthermore, the exhibitors have planned a number of additional events: The possibility to conduct special events for clients in the evenings is used extensively by some exhibitors. Caterpillar, for example, will intensively promote its new generation of machines this way. With the VDMA, the initiative “Think-Ing” (as in think engineering) will be implemented more actively (www.think-ing.de).

AT INTERNATIONAL: Are there limits to the future growth of the trade fair in an active stone quarry and how long do you think the MHI Nieder-Ofleiden site will still serve as fairgrounds?
Rese: This is a question that needs to be asked and answered before every trade fair. The collaboration between us and the MHI is one of constructive engagement based on trust. We jointly discuss the development of mining activities after each ­steinexpo to find consensus on the different interests at an early stage. Whether it will always succeed, no one can tell. There is an old miner’s saying: “It’s dark behind the pick.” However, one thing must be emphasised: The stone quarry in Nieder-Ofleiden is unquestionably our favourite among all the possible locations for the steinexpo!
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