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A Lighter Look at a Trade Show

Posted: 05/06/2011
Author: Raudel Garza

April 14, 2011


I met probably several hundred engineers and other folks (entrepreneurs, heads of companies or divisions, etc) in the last three days. All of whom are somehow related to the automotive industry. I can’t say I remember the names of most of these guys (and yes, most were men – not many female engineers at this trade show), but we did get their cards and contact information. I can say that they are all pretty smart in their fields. Some are your typical nerds, geeks, and other stereotypical engineering types, but guess what? I didn’t see one single pocket protector.

There were some who, as one so eloquently described, “had been put out to pasture, only to be called back to train the new guys”. And there were a bunch of new guys; younger professionals who couldn’t find a booth unless it was mapped out on their blackberry or iPhone. For those of us who have been to really large trade shows with 40,000 or more attendees, this venue was small. However, for my first SAE event, I liked it. There was a fraternal air to the whole deal. All these brainiacs were trying to come up with a better way to do one thing – make cars run more efficiently. And yes, that meant electrical cars, CNG power, alternative fuels, and more.

So why were we there? Well, TexasOne was there to promote, you guessed it, TEXAS. And the border region was very well represented. El Paso, Laredo, McAllen, Brownsville, and RSTEC were all there. We weren’t the only ones, but that’s just about all the big boys along the Rio Grande, isn’t it? The automotive industry is huge. It’s a big deal in Mexican communities close to the border (oh yes, Mexico was there too). But it’s also a big deal on our side of the river. I won’t mention all the companies involved in automotive manufacturing along the border, but you must have heard about TRW, Delphi, Bendix, Delco, Johnson Controls, Alps, Fujitsu Ten, and Emerson. There’s more in our area, and they mean a lot to our community. They provide real jobs. I don’t mean to offend others, but manufacturing is the basis of any successful economy. We need more of these, thus the reason for the participation in the trade show.

Since many of the people we met were not the guys making the corporate decisions on where to locate the next manufacturing line or the next expansion, it will take time to see the results of our labor. But tree farms don’t happen overnight either. Wine isn’t ready in one day. They take time. These nerds, geeks, and genuinely smart guys have been given powerful information about us. The hope is that the knowledge they gained will be shared in corporate meetings and in other communications. Yes, we’ll follow up and send more information, but it is really about the relationships built over the last few days for me, and the last few years for some of the other Texans there. The EDO’s in the Rio South Texas region have done well. I’m just glad to be a part of it again!