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SMOPYC and the Construction Crisis: An Interview with Josè Antonio Vicente

ZARAGOZA/SPAIN, October 23, 2013 - The International Show of Public Works, Construction and Mining Machinery (SMOPYC) will hold its 16th show from 1 to 5 April 2014 at Zaragoza Exhibition Centre. To give an overview of the sector and its expectations regarding this year's show, Alarcon & Harris agency interviewed José Antonio Vicente, director of Zaragoza Exhibition Centre. Mr Vicente is an authority in trade show circles as well as chairing the Spanish trade show association (AFE). He also has expertise in public works machinery thanks to his close ties with this sector.

José Antonio Vicente

José Antonio Vicente, director of Zaragoza Exhibition Centre. | photo: Alarcon & Harris

With six months to go until SMOPYC 2014 and, looking at the evolution of the sector in recent months, do you think last year’s success will be repeated?

I think we have to be optimistic, yet realistic and proactive. An economic recovery is now being discussed in many arenas, but the building industry doesn't have the same outlook. In fact, the latest forecasts by Euroconstruct for construction in our country suggest no signs of movement until 2015. However, it is also true that until then decline will be more gradual and not as sharp, although the numbers are still in the red.
In all these years of crisis, a lot of firms have repositioned, down-sized and looked outside of Spain. SMOPYC is a first-rate marketing tool and one of the mainstays for the industry's business purposes. Now more than ever firms need to participate in trade shows to reap the benefits. In 2011, in the thick of the crisis, 1,253 exhibitors took part and 89,000 visitors came. So we are hoping to repeat that at least.

Does this mean the market in machinery sales has hit rock bottom?

Some experts believe that the sector has already hit rock bottom and that the market in new machinery sales cannot fall much farther, so by late 2013 there might be a shift in this trend. Another widespread opinion is that this crisis will serve to harness and boost productivity, with greater specialisation in machinery and a search for lower fuel consumption. In any of the possible scenarios, SMOPYC will continue to accompany professionals in their journey towards recovery, exercising its vocation for service to public works machinery firms and the sector in general.

What role does Spanish equipment play on the international stage?

The Spanish construction machinery industry has a solid reputation in international markets and is highly appreciated by users. Traditionally, depending on the subsector, it is usual to find Spanish manufacturers with significant market shares. Logically, the crisis has affected exports, but there is a growing presence of Spanish machinery in markets like the Middle East, the States and Asia.
The Spanish offer is based on high-tech machinery that is good value and more competitively priced than German, Japanese and American machinery, that has historically dominated the sector. What's more, in terms of health and safety and environmental aspects, our machinery is of a very high quality as it abides by European legislation on these areas, which is a lot more advanced than in most other countries.

What strategies should firms pursue at such a critical time?

Three basic tools: internationalisation, innovation and diversification. As is tirelessly repeated, internationalisation is not an option; it is an obligation for the survival of companies. Companies need to have versatile structures to adapt to markets and overcome the hurdles thrown up in internationalisation processes, such as dealing with the peculiarities of destination countries, including the various pieces of legislation that they need to be aware of. For this reason innovation is just as important. Not just in terms of the product itself but within the actual organisation. The company needs to be open to new processes, partnerships with other firms, etc.
As regards diversification, companies can and should look at other sectors that could be candidates for the use of machinery that has traditionally been used for construction and which present greater dynamism and potential for growth, such as materials handling, recycling, scrap, landfill management and the farming and forestry industries.

How does SMOPYC’s international vocation present itself and how can it help firms devise their own strategies for internationalisation?

Internationalisation is an ongoing activity at SMOPYC; it is at its very core. In the challenge of internationalisation and the opening of new markets, SMOPYC could be a huge help for firms, establishing synergies, facilitating contacts and enhancing services to attract international visitors.
I should explain that SMOPYC 2014 began working on international promotion on the same day the 2011 event ended. For this reason we have attended all the international construction events such as Intermat and Bauma. Our participation at these events means we can contact potential customers and stimulate our companies’ exporting activity. What’s more, once at the show, a range of business meetings and international commerce missions are carefully arranged in order to put suppliers in direct contact with buyers.

From the point of view of the organisation, which aspects have been enhanced for this year’s show?

The main areas of work we have enhanced include widening the show's international appeal, making it a framework for a variety of industry-wide events, and boosting RDI through our awards for technological innovation. We have been working, and we continue to do so, to achieve a competitive show, with rates adjusted to the situation the market is experiencing, driving down participation costs, without compromising on the quality of facilities and services. Similarly, we have very favourable arrangements in place with local hotels and with Renfe, the railway network,

Lastly, what message would you send to SMOPYC 2014 participants?

SMOPYC 2014 will definitely have huge international repercussions and it will be the show of the year, a unique occasion to find all of the supply and demand in the sector and the best business platform in one place. It will be five days filled with opportunities: exhibitors will find new opportunities for business and business contacts and visitors will have privileged access to information on everything that is happening in the sector - new products, techniques, equipment, offers... My advice is for participants to seize this opportunity to get the most out of their investment, pull out all the stops, compete and be ready to do business and some invaluable networking.

Interview: Alarcon&Harris