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Deflated, not defeated

An unintended consequence of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States was the interruption of Pack Expo Las Vegas 2001, a trade show that appeared likely to be considerably more successful than had first been hoped.

On Monday, September 10, the excitement at the Sands Convention Center was palpable, and Packaging World editors and salespeople were caught up in it. The following day changed everything, however, and we departed Las Vegas in the early afternoon for a 30-hour motorcade back to Chicago. Our departure meant that we missed out on a number of appointments as well as visits with friends and exhibitors. In case we inadvertently missed your company, we hope you’ll understand and will send us any new product information we failed to pick up. Please send releases or data sheets and photos on new products to us in Chicago by mail, fax or e-mail. (E-mail all press releases to with "PELV POST-SHOW UPDATE" in the subject line. Images should be 300 dpi TIFF or JPG.) The show introduced lots of new machines, virtually the opposite of the most recent, and lackluster, show in Anaheim. And it offered many press conferences to introduce them, where there were none in Anaheim. However, I don’t think it’s fair to compare the two shows any longer. [Editor's note: PW has just learned the new owner of the WestPack show, Canon Communications, has plans to hold the show in January 2003 and combine it with Medical Design & Manufacturing, Pacific Design & Manufacturing and PlastTec.] As exciting as the show seemed in the day and a half I witnessed of it, I can’t offer any comments about the Solutions Conference. I was scheduled to moderate a lunchtime session on Tuesday, but as of that morning—with all air traffic having been diverted—the producers didn’t think either of the speakers had arrived in Las Vegas, and the session was canceled. I know that advance registration for the Solutions Conference was down, as it has been for many similar conferences and seminars that appeal to middle management. However, according to one observer, one session he looked in on had attendance of 75 or so, which is equivalent to attendance at some conferences two years ago. PW management wrestled with the decision to leave the expo early, half expecting the show to be canceled at any time. It wasn’t, but based on some contacts early Tuesday, the circumstances made it very difficult for people to focus on business. I think most people at the show were only going through the motions—their emotions were justifiably occupied elsewhere. The terrorists cheated the packaging business of the momentum that would have accompanied a full, active show. We’ll recover, but that’s not an option for the thousands directly affected by this tragedy. The heroic rescue workers will probably be affected forever. Frankly, none of us who watched the televised coverage of the attack or its aftermath is likely to ever be the same.

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