The International Fastener Expo (IFE) hosted its first-ever digital event this week – Match & Meet by IFE. Well-known for its annual show in Las Vegas, IFE is typically the largest industrial fasteners and tooling and machinery event in North America.
Unfortunately, this year’s COVID-19 pandemic made meeting in-person impractical and the show’s organizers canceled the live event, originally scheduled for September. This disappointment, however, did not dissuade IFE from pursuing another way to connect the industry.
“We recognize the value that the show brings to the industry each year and are committed to facilitating and deepening industry connections, digitally,” shared the organizers. “Business hasn’t stopped, so the show must go on, too.”
Match & Meet took place November 11 and 12 via an AI-powered platform that supported several live, online conference sessions, more than 50 exhibitors with virtual booths, and a host of products organized by type for easy searching (and an “add to wish list” option).
Perhaps, most significantly given the ongoing pandemic restrictions, the online event allowed attendees to connect through scheduled meetings and instant messages. According to IFE, on day one alone, more than 1,500 connections were made, with 3,300-plus messages exchanged.
The show format was extremely easy to navigate. Attendees interested in watching a conference presentation could simply click to register and login at the assigned time. Topics included digital distribution, manufacturing, fastener certification, cashflow tips, and others.
Additionally, each virtual booth included a company bio, sectors covered, location, and contact information, with options to list products, related documents (such as PDFs on product specs, standards, or services available), and videos or demos — which were all quite diverse.
- Brighton-Best International, which serves the industrial distribution channel, highlighted its construction supply channel here.
- Distribution One, a software provider, featured how its ERP-ONE+ business software can streamline productivity, improve data accuracy, and reduce costs.
- Nord-Lock Group, a global provider of secure bolted solutions, demonstrated how its original wedge-locking technology secures bolted joints.
- Solutions Industries, a distributor with 100 years of fastener experience, showcased a tour of its Ohio facility.
- Spring Bolt and Nut Manufacturing, an ISO 9001:2015 and API Q1 certified fastener manufacturer, demonstrated its machine capabilities and turning product prints into reality.
- The Lab Materials Testing, an accredited, independent testing laboratory, provided a compilation of the tests it offers.
- Würth Industry North America (WINA), the world’s largest fastener distribution company, demonstrated its 3D printing capabilities — and also presented a conference session on the topic.
WINA’s CEO, Dan Hill, who’s also executive VP of the Wurth Group, spoke in another session about the company’s unprecedented year of growth, despite the challenges, and gave credit to IFE for the event.
“IFE…it’s one of these critical times, where I appreciate the fact that you’ve gone ahead with having the conference, despite the fact that it’s virtual,” said Hill. “It’s certainly nice to be a gold sponsor. And we’re happy to participate.”
The International Fastener Expo also maintained tradition by hosting its annual Awards Ceremony, where it announced the inductees into the Fastener Hall of Fame. Congrats to John Wachman, founder of Desert Distribution Sales and managing director of the Fastener Training Institute, as well as to Tim O’Keeffe, CEO of G.L. Huyett, a master distributor and manufacturer. IFE presented the Young Fastener Professions of the Year Award to Jessi Solt, customer experience leader with G.L. Huyett.
Women in the Fastener Industry (WIFI), a non-profit organization that provides opportunities, education, and mentorship for women in the fastener industry, also honored a few important award winners — read more here.
“The BBI team had a great time at the Match & Meet by IFE,” said Rosa E. Hearn, global marketing / product manager — Proferred Rivets, with Brighton Best International (BBI). Hearn also won WIFI’s Women of the Year award. “It was so interactive and well done. Great job, IFE!”