The Role of Trade Shows In The Pharma Industry

pharma trade show interview at interphex

On day three of INTERPHEX, Todd and Todd interviewed Julie Ackerman, the senior director of PR and communications for PMMI, about the PMMI Pack Expo and Pharma Expo tradeshows. Ackerman also addresses the prevalent notion that trade shows are “dead” or not worth the time, referencing the continued growth of PMMI trade shows as proof that they are still very much alive for members of the industry seeking face-to-face interaction with the technology.

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Interview Transcription:

Todd S:            Connect Radio on location direct from INTERPHEX Day three. Got an exciting guest up next, but I've got to tell you my heart is full of sorrow; we are coming to the end of INTERPHEX 14. It has been an outstanding couple of days.

Todd Y:            Yeah.

Todd S:            On the one hand, I'm kind of dabbing tears out of my eyes because I don’t want it to be over, I really don’t. But on the other hand, I don’t think I can absorb a whole heck of a lot more. No, I'm with you on that, it’s been an amazing couple of days. What you and I have learned and what we share with the audience has just been amazing.

                        However, our streak continues and all the trade shows that we cover, because they once again have saved the best for last.

Todd Y:            How do they do that?

Todd S:            How do they do that? I don’t know how they do it; this next guest will be really interesting. Say hello to Julie Ackerman. She’s senior director of PR and communications for PMMI. Julie, welcome to the show.

Julie:                Thank you both for having me. It’s great to be here with you today.

Todd S:            Well, pleasure is ours, I assure you. Julia, lead us off, walk me through a little bit about yourself and PMMI.

Julie:                Sure. So as you mentioned before, I'm the senior director of PR and communications for PMMI. We are the association for packaging and processing technologies. Our trades show represents a little over 600 packaging and processing supply chain companies.

                        We actively bring together buyers and sellers through a number of avenues. We have the Pack Expo Go Family of trade shows; we also have PMC magazine; we offer an array of business intelligence for our membership.

                        And then, in the arena of the packaging and processing industry, as well as a number of education and offerings as well. So we stay busy, we stay really busy. Our family of trade shows includes Pack Expo for international which is this year in Chicago, November 2nd to the 5th.

                        We also are introducing the co-located Pharma Expo for this year in partnership with ISPE International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering. So we are really excited about that.

Todd S:            Well let’s dive in.

Julie:                Yeah.

Todd S:            Pack Expo: tell us all about it.

Julie:                So, just a little history on how we got to this point. Back in 2011 at Pack Expo, we introduced the pharma pazillion and it was in an effort to make our show more customer-centric. We were trying to make the show more user-friendly for the vertical market than obviously fall under the packaging industry.

                        And what we learnt from our attendees is that they were not identifying themselves necessarily as being in the packaging industry, but they identified themselves as being pharmaceuticals, food and beverage, personal care.

                        So we wanted to take a very horizontal show and break it down vertically so that it was more user friendly for our attendees. And from that came the pharmaceutical pazillion. And that is where we had a number of exhibitors exhibiting their innovations and technologies and pharmaceuticals.

                        So again, in talking to our exhibitors over the last few years, it became clear to us from the feedback from them that they really did encourage us to create this standalone show that we are co-locating with Pack Expo. So this would be the first year that we are introducing that concept and again in partnership with ISPE.

                        So we are looking forward to hosting about 10,000 attendees to just come and see about 80,000 square feet of innovation and pharmaceuticals in the packaging processing arena. So, we are excited, we are looking forward to it.

Todd S:            10,002 because I assure you Todd and I are coming.

Julie:                Is that right? Oh, fantastic!

Todd S:            We are going to come see this thing.

Julie:                That's awesome.

Todd S:            So, I'm intrigued by the idea that’s co-location.

Julie:                Yeah.

Todd S:            So walk us through the benefits of the attendees of having access to both Pack Expo and Pharma Expo.

Julie:                Absolutely. So the show will feature cutting edge solutions for the entire pharmaceutical manufacturing life cycle. But what we have found and what we have heard from our attendees is the idea that, they go to Pack Expo and they see this cross pollination of technology.

                        So obviously, you’ve got issues in food and beverage, and you’ve got baking and snack, beverage, confectionery, meat and poultry, all of these areas are being driven by innovation. And they also face the same challenges with respect with insuring compliance in an increasingly complex regulatory environment.

                        They face issues with respect to accommodating small batches and greater diversity of products. They're managing a larger more complex supply-chain or supply-web. Also every one of those industries, they're trying to build and maintain consumer loyalty to their brands.

                        Also developing and nurturing and maintaining a workforce. So all of these areas, these vertical markets, face same challenges. And so, what our attendees find at Pack Expo is that they can come to one show and see innovations and solutions across all of these markets.

                        So, in the pharmaceutical arena is no exception. In fact we have found attendees tell us that they borrow from solutions and technologies from pharmaceuticals and vice versa. So it really is a great, you know, just marriage of innovations in one place.

Todd S:            I've got to tell you, Julie, I love this idea of the co-locations because I don’t know, how many interviews did we have that did not talk about collaboration and integration. I mean it’s just a very consistent message. You may be setting yourself up…

Julie:                Oh gosh!

Todd S:            But I say this, I say with a smile on my face, because what folks are going to do, I suspect, the attendees, they're going to see the varieties that you have combined in one place.

Julie:                That’s right.

Todd S:            And the next thing out of their mouth after they say thank you, it’s going to be, what are you going to do next.

Julie:                That's right.

Todd S:            Okay, what are you going to do next?

Julie:                Well you know, not only, obviously the show will continue after the closing of the show floor, especially with the offerings and the education from ISPE. Just maybe I should talk a little more about that.

                        So you know one of the benefits of partnering with ISPE is, of course, their expertise and the value that they can bring to the show with respect to education. So we will have our innovations stage, which is the education session that will happen on the show floor, and then also the conference at Pharma Expo that they will provide the subject matter experts for.

                        So, you know, in addition to just the show floor of course will have an abundance of offerings with respect to education at the show. So that sort of takes things beyond again the show floor.

Todd S:            All right. We talked about the Pharma Expo and the co-locating with Pack Expo. Let’s go for 10,000 again-- I want to hear more about PMMI.

Julie:                Sure.

Todd S:            How about some of the other things that you guys are out there doing for the marketplace?

Julie:                Absolutely! So we have introduced a couple of new trade shows. Just last year, we introduced Pack Expo Guadalajara. We understood that there was a need for a show in that base, so we opened that last year and then of course the next Guadalajara will be in 2015, and I've got the dates here, you can see in a quick second. Because of course we've got so many shows that I can't commit them all to memory.

                        So Guadalajara will be March 10th to the 12th in 2015. 2015 is a really, really exciting and really busy year for us. We have introduced, announced anyway, that in 2015, we will be launching Pack Expo go East. That will be happening in Philadelphia, and that will be in February. So that’s a brand new show for us.

                        And it’s more of a regional show, which is how Pack Expo Las Vegas started out before we grew to over 700,000 square feet, and it’s become a very international show. So that is also in 2015; we've got Pack Expo for Las Vegas, September 28th through 30th in 2015, and that’s every year.

                        So we have a lot going on. And then of course, on top of these trade shows, we have our PMT magazine, and then we offer education, we offer business intelligence for the entire supply chain packaging and processing.

Todd S:            Julie, there are folks out there, and not a small number will say, “The whole trade show idea is dead, it’s too expensive, it takes too much time, I don’t want to do it, blah, blah, blah, my feet hurt at the end of the day.”

Julie:                Yeah, we hear that a lot.

Todd S:            And yet you are going, “Well, I'm sure you do, probably more than I do.”

Julie:                Yeah, we are not seeing it ourselves.

Todd S:            Yeah the flips, I mean you're talking about new shows; you're talking about more people. How do you explain to our audience why this thinking of the trade show is dead? Is misguided thinking?

Julie:                Well, I mean just in the four years that I've been with PMMI, I've experienced, I mean, our show keeps growing and this is what I'm seeing annually. We grow almost 10 percent in attendance every year.

                        So, I mean, the numbers aren’t really lying to us. We are also, a couple of years ago, we did something called the voice of the attendee, and we went out and did a really in-depth survey with our attendees from shows, I think two or three years back. And what we learned from them was they still wanted that face-to-face interaction.

                        We are one of the only shows that you will find where they’ve got moving machinery on the show floor, which people can come and they can see and hear and touch and ask questions. And we are in such a technology driven environment these days. But you find more and more — what we are hearing anyways from the attendees — is that they still want to come on to a floor and see the technology face-to-face. So…

Todd S:            All right.

Julie:                We are not going to argue with it.

Todd S:            I wouldn’t.

Julie:                Right.

Todd S:            Well, Julie, I have a sneaking suspicion our paths will cross again.

Julie:                I hope so, I hope so.

Todd S:            But we are about out of time for this conversation. Before we let you go, how can people get in touch with you and learn more about PMMI and all these great adventures?

Julie:                Sure. I encourage anyone listening to visit us at packexpo.com. We also are at pharmaexpo.com with the new show website. You will find all the information you need about registering, hotels, more information about education that our program is developing. So packexpo.com and pharmaexpo.com.

Todd S:            All right. Julie Ackerman, senior director of PR and communications with PMMI. It was a real pleasure.

Julie:                It was a pleasure to be here. Thanks for having me.

Todd S:            Our pleasure. Thanks for stopping by. All right, Youngblood, that wraps…

Todd Y:            I don’t want to wrap, I don’t want to do it.

Todd S:          That wraps this broadcast, on behalf of our guest Julie Ackerman, my co-host Todd Youngblood, I am Todd Schnick. This concludes Life Science Connect Radio Live coverage from INTERPHEX. We will see you in 2015. Have a great day.