It's Thursday, November 15th, 2012 and I'm writing this from our hotel room in the TransAmerica Hotel in São Paulo, Brazil as we pass time waiting for our 11:30pm flight tonight to head home. The exhibition wrapped up last night after three days of being open.
São Paulo is a huge, bustling and vibrant city with a population of over 11 million people. Its the seventh largest city in the world, according to Wikipedia, and having been here, we can easily believe it. The weather was beautiful when we arrived at the airport last Saturday, sunny with temperatures hovering around 80°F (27°C).
Having arrived a day early, the HDD Broker crew took the opportunity to network with a local customer and tour the city. The amazing diversity of the regions of the city were easily apparent, ranging from obviously very affluent with streets lined with exotic car dealerships, to very poor areas where the average home is built from sheet metal and cardboard.
While Paris has the Champs-Elysées, and New York boasts Fifth Avenue, São Paulo wouldn't be São Paulo without Avenida Paulista. The multilane thoroughfare resembles a freeway, and the roughly hewn, unpolished concrete skyscrapers that line it really do resemble a "concrete jungle.
We also had the chance to visit Liberdade. Liberdade is São Paulo's own equivalent of Japantown in the USA. Significant populations of Chinese and Koreans also live in the district. We had the chance to sample local versions of ice cream and candy as well as look through the crowded and vibrant Sunday afternoon flea market that lines the streets there.
Our customer treated us to one of Sao Paulos best steakhouses, the world renowned Fogo de Chão. While this restaurant chain does have locations in the US that we've visited, none can compare with the scale of the restaurant or the superb service that we received there. We're pretty sure that the literal translation of the name must mean, "Leave here weighing 400lbs!", because the sheer volume and quality of food was astounding.
The show itself was well populated with exhibitors from around the globe. There was a very strong representation from Chinese manufacturers, with between six and eight Chinese companies showing their offerings to the Brazilian contractors. The quality of the equipment on display from these vendors ranged from embarrassing to impressive when weighed against price. In general, we can offer our own opinion that the Chinese equipment still has a long way to go before it becomes a viable alternative to mainstream North American or European manufacturers. The level of quality control is still very concerning, and that coupled with the much lower productivity means that the cost/benefit analysis still points strongly towards mainstream HDD equipment holding a significant advantage for the owner, only increasing over the time of ownership.
Speaking of the mainstream manufacturers, most had a very significant presence at the show. DCI had a beautiful 20' booth, broadcasting their "Drill Power" theme. Their traditional SE, F2 and F5 lineup was on display along with their Tensi-Trak and downhold pressure monitors.
American Augers brought their best-selling DD-10 drill. Of course, one of the worst kept secrets in the industry is the fact that Ditch Witch just concluded a deal that sees American Augers and Trencor fall under ownership of the lady on the broom (well.. I suppose its actually a shovel, but you get the idea). Just what the permutations of the transaction will be for the industry is yet to be seen, but its our guess that American will remain a separate and distinct product line, leveraging their reputation in the industry.
Vermeer brought a new D20x22 Series II to the show along with their AXIS Guided Boring Machine. Vermeer was one of the Platinum sponsors of the event.
Ditch Witch shared real estate with their partner for tunneling equipment, Akkerman. A shiny new JT2020 Mach1 graced one corner of their booth.
Universal HDD had a large presence as well. Their new D22x22 drill was parked in their booth and another larger unit was parked outside in the drizzle next to Vermeer's larger offering, the VBM D130x150.
While the show was not overly busy by any stretch of the imagination, HDD Broker for one saw a superb turnout of excellent quality contacts and contractors. In all honesty, the response that we got from this show was probably the best we've seen in any of our trade show attendance in recent memory. Though there were times that the aisles were deserted, we were kept entertained by chatting with the other exhibitors as well as the talented and beautiful female translators that were very common in many booths.
Before the last day of the show, we were invited to tour the new Vermeer dealership approximately one and half hours north of São Paulo in the city of Valinhos. The new facility is significantly larger than their previous location and offers much better options for service, parts storage and administration. It was certainly obvious to us that they're taking the opportunities here in Brazil very seriously and are ensuring that they invest in people, facilities and other resources that will best look after the specific needs of their customers here.
This was a great show. The people were helpful and friendly, and while communication was not always the easiest of tasks, it was always fun and very worthwhile. We look forward to more contacts and business in this thriving market in the years to come.