The inaugural Fastener Fair USA event took place in 2018, but the exhibition launched more than a couple of decades ago and has found success in several countries since then. The first show started in England in 1995. It was organized by a UK socket-screw wholesaler interested in expanding his business and connecting with others in the industry.
At the time, there was nothing like it. Then in 2005, it opened in Stuttgart, Germany — where it remains the world’s largest fastener event. In 2008, Fastener Fair Budapest was launched on a trial run. In 2010, international B2B trade exhibition organizer, Mack-Brooks Group (a part of Reed Exhibitions – RX Global) acquired Fastener Fair. It’s continued the expansion trend.
“We call it geo-cloning, where we take an event that works in one city or country and include it in another,” shares Bob Chiricosta, event director with RX Global. “Currently, there are eight Fastener Fairs around the world.” Aside from in the USA, this includes Germany, France, Italy, India (in Mumbai and New Delhi), Turkey, and Mexico.
Chiricosta is a chemical engineer turned marketing expert, turned event director. He’s been with Mack-Brooks and then RX Global for 11 years but began work specific to the Fastener Fair when it launched in Mexico.
“We then wanted to bring what we offered in Mexico, which was a great success, to America,” he says. “And we knew that we wanted it to be located in the eastern part of the U.S., partially because there was already another annual West Coast event in Las Vegas. But mostly because it’s that where a tremendous amount of fastener companies are based…in the Midwest and Southeast.”
The 2018 show was launched in Cleveland, followed by Detroit in 2019.
“We received a wonderful response to the event, which grew considerably even after just one year,” says Chiricosta. “Interestingly, the two cities between Cleveland and Detroit also attracted different audiences. You primarily get the executives attending in Cleveland and the automotive engineers in Detroit, which is great. And then 2020 happened and, unfortunately, we had to cancel the show last year.”
The Fastener Fair is ready to return to Cleveland later this year, at the Huntington Convention Center. The conference is set for November 8th and the expo hall on November 9th and 10th.
“Ohio is one of the states where fasteners are a big deal, so it makes sense to return to Cleveland, where there’s a bit of a hub of fastener-related business,” he says. “And we’re so looking forward to connecting and reconnecting with everyone in the industry — and so is everyone else, I’m sure! Fasteners is such a tight-knit industry and people are ready to get out again.”
Granted, the pandemic means there will be greater security measures in place and fewer international exhibitors and attendees.
“It’s an evolving process and we’re keeping up with all of the latest developments to ensure a safe event. We’re also keeping everything at the convention center this year to avoid transporting people on busses to different locations. For example, the last time in Cleveland, we hosted the event party at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame,” he says.
In Detroit, it was at GM’s impressive global headquarters. This is one of the features Chiricosta attributes to the success of the Fastener Fair.
“Let’s just say, we know how to throw a party,” he laughs. “Fastener Fair is much more about networking than other shows, which suits the industry. The fastener community in the U.S. is very much alive and thriving, and they enjoy getting together, connecting, and sharing news and accomplishments. I think this is particularly true and important this year.”
Another feature that sets the Fastener Fair apart is that it’s not scarce in relation to its list of invitees. Rather, the show is open to the entire fastener manufacturing and supply chain.
“Often end-users are not welcome at such events, but we encourage the full value chain to attend. It opens up dialogues and the useful exchange of information,” he explains. “Truth be told manufacturers do want to speak with the Ford engineer who’s looking to spec some bolt for a vehicle set to launch three years from now or to the aerospace engineer looking for updated rivets for a plane.”
Chiricosta says manufacturers are typically respectful and well-aware of their distributor relationships. To reaffirm and strengthen the manufacturer-supplier bond, the Fair organizers also suggest that manufacturers place a sign in their booth that lists the distributors at the show that offer their products.
“Fastener Fair is also unique because of its worldwide exposure,” adds Chiricosta. “The shows are held in multiple countries because fasteners are made all over the globe. We truly represent that.”
Typically, this means the fastener community in America can learn firsthand about fastener innovations in Germany or India or Taiwan, for instance.
“Can you believe that about one-third of the exhibitors at each one of Fastener Fair events around the world come from Asia? Granted, that won’t happen this year in the U.S., given the pandemic, but I find it incredible that we’ve been able to continually connect an industry on a global level.”
It’s also a good way to share ideas, learn, and potentially collaborate on certain projects. Chiricosta says many of such manufacturers specialize in one type of fastener and they’re looking for specific innovations or international distributors.
“I think the Fastener Fair offers an excellent opportunity to bring the fastener world together, no matter which event of ours you attend,” he says. “I’m extremely proud of the events that we offer to support the fastener industry and am excited to kick things off in Cleveland this November. I hope to see you there.”
Fastener Fair CONNECT is a new digital business platform, scheduled for November 17th and 18th, 2021. Fastener Fair Stuttgart, Italy, Mexico, India, and the USA and Fastener are joining forces, unifying the Fastener Fair communities around the world, and providing a unique, global networking event for the industry.
“We’ve wanted to make better use of the fact that we have a global fastener community that can connect, share, learn, and grow together,” says Bob Chiricosta, event director with RX Global, organizer of the Fastener Fairs. “The fastener industry is worldwide and it’s enormous. We believe we have an opportunity and a responsibility to bring it together.”
The digital event will offer conference sessions, virtual product showcases, and interactive networking opportunities.
“Fastener Fair CONNECT will provide exhibitors with a digital platform for attendees to present products, equipment, and technologies to a targeted global audience,” he says. “It will be a unique, not-to-be-missed experience.”