With a year and some change past when the COVID-19 pandemic first sent waves through entire industries, a renewed understanding of normalcy is becoming more realized day by day. With the summer of 2021 comes loosened restrictions and, of course, industry trade shows.
The bread and butter of B2B connections old and new, these events underwent unique transformations (with varying degrees of success) through the course of the pandemic. Some shifted to becoming online-only events, some were outright canceled and some attempted to execute a hybrid scenario.
Despite the challenges, manufacturers found ways to make connections with customers outside of standard in-person trade shows. Whether seeking help with dust control systems, material handling conveyors or the effective application of control systems across different industries, knowledge was shared and orders placed.
New ways of doing business had to be traversed in almost every industry sector, and ingredient manufacturers were not immune to such change. At AZO, we are set for Ceramics Expo at the end of August. In the meantime, we are meeting customers’ demands for our conveying equipment while discovering more efficient ways of doing business, so says VITAL sales engineer Mike Miller.
“We're getting back to some things we did in the past, but we're not forgetting all the things that we've learned through this process,” Miller said. “We’re ready to continue those new efforts, while also bringing back the best parts of what we had before the pandemic — face-to-face interactions and talking to people that aren't just your immediate family.”
During the past year, AZO put together an online showroom to feature innovations in conveying, conditioning and weighing. We also dipped our toes in webinars (including our discussion in partnership with Rovema and Connecting Foods that was centered around blockchain technology and ingredient tracking). Though these represent new ways of marketing which we aim to expand on in the future, AZO Inc. General Manager Chuck Kerwin cites the connections you make in-person with a client as a “long journey” that can’t completely be replaced by computer screens.
“Our business is based on trust,” Kerwin said. “Having the opportunity to get to know someone face to face helps cement the bond that we value at AZO.”
Kerwin admits the “human connection,” is difficult on a video call. The business dinner can’t be replaced — what clients like to do and any overlaps in common interests are the kinds of details you can miss when not being able to meet and greet someone in person. Still, the increased availability of online video calls can be a game-changer when utilized in the right context.
“While it is important to have face-to-face meetings, there are also unique opportunities for video,” Kerwin said. “Not every meeting needs to be face to face. We’ve had more calls with people in North America and Europe in the same conversation (at the same time) than we’ve ever had in the past.”
AZO, Inc. engineers, builds and installs components and complete systems for bulk material handling requirements. A wholly-owned subsidiary of AZO GmbH, the company supports U.S. customers with technical support from its Memphis location and rapid parts delivery. AZO equipment is used in companies ranging from small, family-owned businesses to the world’s best-known industrial and consumer products companies. More info about our company, as well as common questions related to the world of ingredient handling, can be answered on our company blog at bigbagunloading.com/blog.