Call me sentimental, but as we approach the International Manufacturing Technology Show 2014, I couldn’t help but reflect on E2’s first time exhibiting at this giant of a trade show serving the manufacturing technology industry. My how times have changed in 18 years. Not just with advancements in job shop technology, but our goals at this big show, how we market the E2 Shop System, and the manufacturing industry in general.

We exhibited for the first time in 1996. We had only three people working the booth for the entire 10 days. Yes, the show was 10 days long back then, and we were wondering what we were going to do with all that time on our hands. We were also wondering a lot more. We really didn’t know what to expect. Would we sell any systems? Would any of our existing customers be at the show?Shoptech and E2's participation at IMTS goes way back

We were most definitely the new kid on the block – a young and upcoming software company from the Midwest, competing against the big publicly held software companies.

Well, as a famous comedian once said, “It’s all in the timing.” We entered the market at the right time with the right product, and while it was no overnight success by any means, it was a very productive show. We were worried that we might not recoup the expense of investing in IMTS, but our fears soon went away.

Owners and managers of shops of all kinds waited in long lines to see a demo, and many wanted to buy right then and there!

Of course, a lot has changed. That year, linear motors were making a big splash, enabling machines to operate at incredible speeds never before achieved. Floppy disks were how we packaged the E2 software. Nowadays, 3-dimensional additive manufacturing, shop floor automation and a North American manufacturing renaissance are the talk of the industry.

Technology has changed the landscape of how we and everyone markets these days. With demos online and internet searches to find at products and information, companies aren’t so much “buying” at the show today, but they are gathering up information to guide their manufacturing software purchase decisions.

Rich and Greg Eheman – the two Es of E2 in the early years of the job shop software

Rich and Greg Eheman, founders of E2 Shop System

Today, the IMTS serves a much different purpose for E2 and Shoptech. It is more of a customer-relations show than a sell-new software show. Sure, we get new leads. Don’t get me wrong: those are always great – and expected to a degree. We spend most of our time, however, showing customers new features, swapping stories on best practices, sharing information and generally just talking about how we can help them grow their businesses. In the long run, they will use more of the software and be happier customers. And we all know that happier customers will talk to other people about E2.

Like the tagline on the commercial once stated: “You’ve come a long way, baby.” Well, that certainly applies to E2 and our long-time association with the IMTS.