By GREGORY ZELLER //
This year’s version of the world’s largest industrial-technology trade fair will have some serious Long Island flavor.
Through the 102 Export Assistance Offices operated nationally by the U.S. Department of Commerce, 400-plus American businesses are slated to attend the annual Hannover Messe, a showcase for international automation advances, supply and production innovations and breakthrough clean-energy tech happening later this month in Germany.
And no one is sending more participants than the Commerce Department’s satellite office at Hofstra University’s Zarb School of Business, which is chaperoning 10 Island businesses to the event in Germany’s 13th largest city.
Molly Ho, an international trade specialist in the Long Island Export Assistance Office, said the 2015 messe (German for “fair”) was attended by roughly 60 American companies. But participation skyrocketed this year, she noted, with the United States being regaled as the event’s “partner country,” a distinction given to a different nation each year. (The honor went to India in 2015.)
The 560 percent attendance increase among domestic firms is logical, Ho noted, with “U.S. companies being highlighted front and center.” That includes the 10 Long Island firms signed on for the voyage, covering industries as diverse as energy, industrial supply and finance.
Ho credited the strong Island participation to “a lot of outreach and promotion” by herself and Susan Sadocha, the Hofstra-based office’s director.
That included personal appearances at an energy conference held at Farmingdale State College last fall and at a recent Digital Factory-themed event – addressing additive manufacturing, software development and other digitized support services – at NYIT’s Westbury campus.
Such legwork is old hat for Ho, who joined the U.S. Commercial Service after working in UK event organizer Reed Exhibitions’ Connecticut office. Boasting an annual portfolio of roughly 500 events in more than 40 countries, Reed Exhibitions is self-billed as “the world’s leading event organizer” – and her primary role enlisting U.S. firms for Reed’s international showcases prepared Ho well for export-assistance duty.
“It was very similar work and it was nice to have that experience,” she noted.
It also made Ho the right choice to lead the entire U.S. recruitment effort for Hannover Messe 2016. While international trade specialists from across the U.S. Commercial Service helped organize U.S. participation, Ho served as the lead recruiter and schedule planner, interacting with nearly all of the 400-or-so firms heading to Germany and liaising with various government offices.
“It was a lot of fun, talking to them about the opportunities and possibilities,” she told Innovate LI. “These are a lot of small to medium-size companies that haven’t done an international trade show before.”
That basically describes the Long Island delegation, though some of the regional companies heading to Hannover have crossed oceans before, particularly those representing the Island in the Digital Factory category.
Those include Melville-based computational fluid dynamics and computer-aided engineering software supplier CD-adapco; the electronics division of Garden City-based military-assets logistics specialist Norcatec; and Hauppauge-based satellite-communications ace Globecomm, the largest of the Island companies making the trip, according to Ho, and a longtime international distributor.
Four companies with less of an international footprint – to date – will spotlight Long Island’s energy chops. Making the trip are Great Neck bio-waste converter AgriPower, Hicksville thermal-management expert Applied Power Systems, Central Islip critical-surfacing supplier Universal Photonics and Westbury’s Electro Industries, a smart-grid energy-management specialist.
In the Industrial Supply category, Long Island will be represented by Ronkonkoma’s Ultraflex Power Technologies, a manufacturer of industrial furnaces and ovens, and Medford’s Enecon Corp., an industrial repair and maintenance specialist.
Also attending is Global Government Partners, a Merrick firm that helps U.S. companies navigate international waters with a menu of border-crossing sales and product-development services.
While Global is not a manufacturer or IT provider, it does represent one of the primary functions of Hannover Messe, according to Ho, who noted an entire hall at the April 25-29 event is dedicated to luring and securing international investments.
“For instance, the State of New York will be represented there, looking for investors who want to invest in U.S. companies,” Ho said.
As the 2016 “partner nation,” the United States will also be well-represented on the federal level, with scheduled appearances at the international fair by President Obama and several members of his cabinet, including Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.
With the president headlining the card and cutting-edge companies from across the nation taking part, the large U.S. contingent is set to shine – though firms needn’t return from Germany with iron-clad international distribution deals for the trip to be considered a success, according to Ho.
“If a company simply meets perspective buyers or partners or distributors, or takes the opportunity to learn from all of the U.S. Commercial Service officers who will be there from our offices around the globe, then it will be a successful trip,” she said. “This is a great opportunity for U.S. companies to network and learn best practices from other companies from the U.S. and around the world.”
Long Island, she added, picked the right year to step up its collective presence at the world’s largest industrial-tech showcase.
“Long Island companies have a lot to offer,” Ho said. “They have a lot of exciting products and services that are great not only for the European market but all the markets represented at Hannover. And it makes sense for them to take advantage of the show this year, with the United States being the country of honor.”