2 October, Verona, Italy

   MARMOMACC, Day 1 – In Verona, North Americans used to look for European products to sell in the United States. It’s a sign of our current economy that several American companies are doing the reverse ... and selling their products to European customers.
   It wasn’t unusual to see a few machine vendors, such as Vytek, come to a show in Europe and sell through a local distributor, or a domestic stone vendor like Rock of Ages brokering some international deals. The overwhelming American presence at Marmomacc, though, tended to be distributors looking for a new product line to offer back in the States.
   Not this year. Adhesive companies like Superior Stone Products and Integra Adhesives are here with nice, large booths. And one combo booth, featuring Blick Industries and Water Treatment Technologies (WTT), is right in the midst of large Italian competitors.
   On a rather moribund first day of the show, where aisles tended to look somewhat emptier than in years past, the Blick/WTT booth seemed to buck the trend, with a crowd always milling around the area. WTT’s John Fallon noted that, in the first few hours of the show, he had plenty of interested customers – and could’ve used someone skilled in five different languages to help.
   Fallon said that he’d noticed a U.S. vendor in the exact same spot last year. So, the company decided to come to Italy, mainly to sell the advantages of WTT’s chemical-free process in dealing with wastewater recycling (which isn’t offered by most European manufacturers).
   Blick, of course, manufactures CNC-holddown clamps and fixtures that are unique, so there’d be the added interest in the combo booth. What also helped, however, was the devalued U.S. dollar; with the world economy in a situation that’s charitably referred to as “in flux,” U.S. goods look very, very good when compared against those sporting euro-based price tags.
   So far, the increase in U.S. vendors is the high point of this year’s Marmomacc. While it’s hard to determine attendance in this small city of a trade show, spread through 10 exhibit halls and acres of al fresco stone displays, the walkways seem to be far less crowded than in previous years.
   However, it’s only the first day. Crowds may pick up as the event heads for the weekend, but it’s still anyone’s guess.

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