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VegasMeansBusiness - An Interview with John Catalano

John CatalanoWhat makes a great industry meeting? Who better to ask than the organizers of FABTECH, North America's largest metal forming, fabricating, welding and finishing event. These are folks who know how to make things, and that extends to an annual industry event with international reach.

FABTECH is the umbrella brand for this annual event hosted by five discrete sponsor organizations: Fabricators & Manufacturers Association International; the Society of Manufacturing Engineers; the American Welding Society; Precision Metal forming Association, and the Chemical Coaters Association International. Together, they represent the pieces of a large and complex logistical machine.

The show's facility requirements are unique, as each exhibition hall is transformed into an operational manufacturing factory floor, raising a variety of idiosyncratic considerations. John Catalano, Group Show Manager, hailed the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) for being enormously helpful in managing logistics. They've facilitated meetings with the proper city departments to ensure the show is safely done.

"They want us to succeed and are active and willing partners toward making that happen," he said.

When FABTECH arrives in Las Vegas, it occupies the Las Vegas Convention Center for the main expo, and up to 16 hotels to house attendees who converge there from around the world. "We know that on the West Coast there are large numbers of manufacturers who aren't going to go to Chicago or Atlanta, so we bring the show to them," said Catalano. "Las Vegas brings us a new audience, and that's what the exhibitors are there for: new buyers for new industries."

While the FABTECH exhibition focuses primarily on manufacturing, the event also features what Catalano describes as "high level conference programs and special events" educating industry members about the technical side of making parts and equipment, and addressing management issues within manufacturing, including a CEO panel on topical issues that are on everybody's mind."

"The five organizations that make up FABTECH work together to create one signature event for our 26,000 attendees," said Catalano, who described FABTECH as less a convention than a homecoming for its participants, "a celebration of North American manufacturing, a rallying point for the industry, and a meeting of like-minded professionals with common goals."

But at the end of the day, when FABTECH's pop-up factory floor shuts down, Las Vegas opens to an endless variety of activities for attendees to avail themselves. "From the restaurants and entertainment to the weather and golf, Las Vegas is really a great mix in our rotation," said Catalano.

"Everyone has their own image of Las Vegas. If you've been there you have a pretty clear idea of its experience. And if you haven't, Las Vegas is so well branded and marketed that we just let it speak for itself."

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