Quick conversations from the trade show floor
The 2023 Unified Wine & Grape Symposium concluded January 26 and, judging by the comments we received on the trade show floor, it’s back, baby!
Though still rebounding from the devastating pandemic years, sentiment among exhibitors was overwhelmingly positive. It’s clear that we’re all just happy to see each other in person, to talk about the future and to get some deals done.
“This is the best foot traffic I’ve seen since 2017. It’s a good mix of people this year. I’m hearing optimism and positive buying sentiments, which is great.”
—Kevin Woodling, Scott Labs
“It’s nice to see everyone in the industry coming together and representing.
We’ve had a lot of people coming by, taking cards and gathering information, interested in what we’re doing.”
—Lauren Hiugenroth, Trane
“We’re always open to meeting new potential customers interested in our product, and so far, we’ve been busier than last year. 2023 is looking positive.”
—Nicholas Podsakoff, Sunridge Nurseries
“It’s been better than last year — good traffic and we’ll walk away with some sales. I was just hoping it would be better than last year, and it definitely is.”
—Andy Backer, G&D Chillers
Sharing what’s new
All that interest is leading to long conversations and deals getting done. For many vendors, both newer to Unified and well established, the opportunity to share new developments was crucial to reestablishing client connections and reaching new potential customers.
“It’s been fantastic — much better than the last couple of years. It seems like a lot of people were just ready to come back. So far, I have about 30% new contacts.”
—Marty Testa, Chemproof Polymers
“We’ve been able to reconnect with a lot of people we don’t see very often, and the foot traffic is stronger than recent years.”
—Peter Seaman, W Silver Inc.
“It’s been a lot better than last year — closer to normal. We’ve made some sales and connected with a number of interested parties. We’ve definitely made more contacts. I’d say it’s been a successful show for us.”
—Tom Ohlin, Squarrel
We also encountered companies that were all-in for 2023: new products and services, expansions and added industries. When you’re this excited, you want to share it with the world.
“2023 will be very challenging because we have a lot of exciting news. We’re improving our business; we’re improving our structure, starting with our service. Plus we’re expanding our portfolio into beer, cider, spirits and dairy.”
—Lorenzo Forbice, Della Toffola
“We’re ready to scale up. We’ve gotten more independent on our production, our concept is proven and we’re ready to go. We’re a real solution to the oak shortage and people are recognizing that. We’re also seismically safer, so we’re getting some attention for that.”
—Jeffrey Brown, Squarrel
Lemons and lemonade
Looking forward into 2023, most vendors shared optimism for what the year would bring. A few acknowledged ongoing challenges, but the overall takeaway was an industry ready to jump in and get things done.
“It’s challenging to know what’s going to happen. There’s been a lot of price volatility but hopefully that will stabilize. We’re hoping to have more reliability for the products and raw materials we need to make our products. That’s the biggest concern right now.”
—Greg Sitton, Gusmer
“We had some supply chain issues last year but I think we’re at the tail end of that.
We’re starting to get the chips back in stock that we need to build our products. Things are looking up this year.”
—Dominic Tamber, TankNET
Of course, there’s also opportunity in facing challenges, and we found some vendors who recognized their place in the larger scheme of things.
“It’s a good market [for insurance] right now, especially in the wine world, just because of how the last few years have gone — weather events and such. There’s definitely a lot more interest in getting protected.”
—Malia Turner, Vintage Crop Insurance Agency
“We’re making good contacts. A lot of industry folks here are focused on forthcoming [wastewater] regulations, so we’re seeing more interest because of that.”
—Tom Hinde, EP Aeration
Things are looking up
Being such a large gathering so early in the year, outcomes at Unified can set the tone for what’s to come. We found a number of vendors embracing the positives based on their interactions at the show.
“After the last few years of COVID, I had some anxiety at the beginning of the year. We were a little slow out of the gate, but I’m feeling better after this show.”
—Andrew Woolter, P&L Specialties
“Since COVID, this is the best it’s been. More people have come through with structured ideas of what they’re going to do in the first part of the year, as opposed to long-term planning. More ‘We need to’ and less ‘We want to.’ It seems people are enjoying what they’re doing right now; things are moving in the right direction. Costs are going down and people are more optimistic about spending money. That’s all you can hope for. This show does a great job of bringing together people who have a lot of ideas.”
—Daris Smith, Silver State Stainless
“We were a little cautious about 2023, but after meeting some prospective buyers
at the show, we’re very optimistic about 2023.”
—Halley Osborne, P&L Specialties
To the organizers and sponsors who make Unified happen year after year: Bravo!