The last two trade events of the year proved the value of getting out of the office into the marketplace, says Sarah Spivey, the managing director of below-the-hook equipment manufacturer Modulift.
I'm writing this blog approaching European air space on a flight home from Dubai, where the first Cranes and Transport Middle East (CATME) conference took place last week. When I land, I'll get into a car and drive straight to the office, where meetings will be punctuated by emails and a backlog of other work. I don't want any brownie points; I'm just making the point that, like lots of us, I'm busy.
However, it would have been a mistake to send someone else to the event, organised by International Cranes & Specialized Transport magazine and the KHL Group. It would have been an act of even greater folly for Modulift to not have a presence at all just because it meant more time out of the office. It's never good business practice to chain oneself to a desk, yet people do it all the time.
Imagine not being able to find the time to attend CATME, where over 200 delegates explored themes such as the increased technical and commercial demands placed on heavy lift specialists by their clients. Consider the lunacy of not taking an opportunity to get first-hand information on the state of one of our most important markets going into another year.
Contemplate how much worse off I'd be if I wasn't in Dubai to hear Matthias Herles, of IHS Markit, address conference attendees. As KHL has since reported, Herles spoke with some degree of optimism about prospects for 2017 and beyond in the Middle East region, with expectations of rising oil prices greeted with much fanfare by industry. Herles also said construction markets in the Middle East were likely to see annual growth rates of around nearly 4% up to 2020. He, and others, alluded to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) agreement on lower oil production that will fuel growth.
To network with lifting and rigging professionals as the forecast was digested was of incalculable value. So what if emails were stacking up and the voicemail was reaching capacity. We took a high level of sponsorship and stocked an exhibit with products and literature; we were a focal point of the event as positivity spread amongst the CATME—and Middle East—community.
LiftEx, the trade event of the Lifting Equipment Engineers Association (LEEA), which took place only weeks earlier, was another case in point. Some stayed away from the co-located conference and exhibition, held this year in Aberdeen. By contrast, we had a prominent exhibit and I stepped up to moderate a panel discussion that concluded a day of seminars and other educational content. We took three staff north of the border for a week and, once again, set about gathering market intelligence.
Quality of attendee was a standout feature of the show and, given their optimism, it's no surprise that at the time of writing, oil prices have jumped to a near 18-month high. It's also interesting that the latest Oil and Gas Survey, conducted by Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the Fraser of Allander Institute, found that the rate of job cuts is set to slow as the market starts to rebound from rock bottom. The only way is up!
True, anyone—whether they were at CATME and LiftEx or not—can read about this positivity in trade journals and online, but it's more powerfully applied to the mechanics of a business if one has spent time on the front line and continued to build relationships with influencers in the market. Remember, headlines don't tell the whole story, which is even more reason not to rely solely on information that finds its way to you, regardless of how busy one might be.
Supported by visibility and a strong presence at events all over the world throughout 2016, Modulift remains in a state of growth and we are excited about next year. New distributors are gathering speed and the super heavy lift sector is still particularly buoyant, as demonstrated by the recent delivery of a gargantuan 1,500t beam.
Honestly, the scale of the momentum gathered over the last 12 months has pleasantly surprised me. Many companies are reporting flatness in their key markets and aren't particularly excited about 2017 either. That's not negativity we're sharing and it certainly won't feature in upcoming interviews with candidates looking to fill no fewer than four positions at the company in our quality assurance and production departments. We're looking for employees at the very top of their game with offshore oil and gas experience who can take us to the next level. Based on the quality of CVs I've received, we might have found a few who tick the boxes.
Finally, I've received confirmation from the Institute of Directors (IOD) that I passed the Chartered Director Programme diploma with distinction! I plan to advance to chartered level in time but I need to develop a world-class portfolio of boardroom activity, which will take some time to compile.
That's all for my final blog of 2016. Thank you for reading and, if you celebrate the season, have a fantastic Christmas.