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MADE Expo: A Resilient Italian Lift Industry Tries Something New

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The Lift expo is incorporated into the broader-scoped MADE expo in Milan, Italy.

The Italian lift and escalator industry suffers. It is no secret that in the last four years, new construction petered out in the peninsula, and growth has been flat, at best. This reflects in the order books of lift manufacturers, both large and small, and in the difficulties for the very strong and resilient group of component manufacturers, which is the hallmark of the Italian lift industry. With 900,000 lifts installed, Italy is by far the largest European market. This helps the replacement and modernization market remain strong and essential for the survival of the industry in these challenging times throughout Europe.

For many years, the biannual Lift in Milan, Italy, was the largest or second-largest venue for the European lift industry. However, Interlift in Augsburg, Germany, has slowly imposed itself as the dominant event for the continent’s lift and escalator companies, whether they participate as exhibitors or visitors. The last Interlift (in 2011) attracted some 20,000 visitors, while the last Lift (in 2010) barely counted some 10,000.

In Eastern Europe, competition also grew from the Turkish Asansör exhibition that has come of age, benefiting from its host city Istanbul’s large natural hinterland, reaching as far as the Persian Gulf states, Saudi Arabia and India. Moreover, all the citizens of Ukraine, Georgia and the other southern republics of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) may travel to Turkey without visas. In contrast, they need a visa and are carefully filtered at the border when attempting to enter the European Union or Italy. Moreover, the Turkish exhibition has benefitted from the good economic growth most ex-USSR republics have enjoyed since their independence.

It is in times of crisis when the adaptability and resilience of the Italian companies make marvels. Most lift associations came to the conclusion that the Lift event as it was known was slowly dying, and they decided to link with the major Italian event for the construction industry, MADE, in the same halls of the Milan Fairgrounds in Rho-Pero on the outskirts of the large North Italian business city of Milan. MADE consistently attracts some 250,000 visitors from the world of construction: from cement and scaffolding specialists, to carpenters and decorators. Some 90,000 architects visit each iteration of the fair, as do many building managers and administrators. In other words, the number of visitors potentially interested by lifts and the services they offer is a multiple of the visitors who came to Lift. There was understandable resistance from ANICA (Italian elevator components association), which feared that its customers would not be among the visitors. But the association accepted the challenge and decided to participate in MADE, which designated half a hall to the lift industry during the October 17-20, 2012, event.

The largest exhibitors were ANICA and seven participating component producers, followed by the home lifts and platform producer IGV, KONE (the only exhibitor among the majors), AssoAscensori (Italy’s main association) and Paravia (a medium-sized company in Southern Italy, of which Otis recently took a majority share). Several other smaller players were also present, such as Daldoss and Schaefer, making a good lift-industry presence in this trial effort.

Managing Director of KONE Italy Angelo Bosoni was all smiles about the initiative, into which his company has strongly invested, with a stand presenting the new version of the MonoSpace® elevator. Bosoni remarked:

“Economists had warned us that after the summer of 2012, there would be a near total stoppage for new installations. That is indeed what we see today. That is why we need to tap from an existing successful exhibition such as MADE. Our Lift expo was slowly shrinking. We need to advertise ourselves and, over time, we can make sure that our traditional visitors switch and come to MADE. They have an opportunity to come and see us, or to select their component manufacturers, and they get to visit six other halls full of interesting products and techniques!”

President of AssoAscensori Vincenzo di Martino, was very pleased with his Paravia stand, within the lift industry concentration in Hall 14. Martino said:

“On the first day, I made more international contacts than [I did] over a week at the former Lift expo: people from Saudi Arabia, from Eastern Europe, builders from Spain; I am really enthusiastic at the results of this new approach. We will try to persuade our colleagues from the industry, large and small companies in the different associations, to continue the test and be there at the next MADE, with more companies and a reinforced presence. United, we will be seen and heard.”

When you realize the idea to incorporate Lift 2012 into MADE was only floated at the end of 2011, and that the exhibitors’ decision to switch was only taken in May 2012, there is hope for the lift section of MADE to see gains in space and participants. This is a way to tackle the crisis and make sure the resilient Italian lift industrialists remain one of the strongest contingents of European companies in the sector. The only difficulty is, of course, to avoid having MADE and Interlift falling the same year, every two years, at very close dates from each other.

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