Need convincing the trend toward globalization in the dairy industry is picking up steam? Look no further than the makeup of the World Dairy Expo (WDE) Trade Show. Last year, 17% of the 850-plus exhibitors in the Trade Show were based in countries other than the U.S. with five of the world’s seven continents represented.
“With attendees from nearly 100 countries, WDE offers companies a truly global platform to share their products and services,” says Crystal Ripp, WDE Trade Show Manager.
“Not only are companies looking for customers, but many find distributors in North America,
and other countries, due to conversations that started at WDE. Technology in the dairy industry develops differently in different parts of the world depending on economic and environmental pressures, and the knowledge shared at WDE can be taken advantage of in other parts of the world to further improve efficiency in dairying.”
British inventors Mike Brimble and Robert Todd Endunt weren’t sure what to expect when they made their first trip to WDE in 2014. The two men had launched a company called Moowell Ltd. to manufacture and market biodegradable, plastic hoof
shoes designed to prevent cattle lameness. The product had caught on well among producers in their native country and other parts of Europe. Brimble and Todd wanted to gauge prospects for doing business in North America.
“We didn’t have a stand here that first year, we just came to look around a bit,” says Todd, a professional hoof trimmer. “We immediately realized this was a fantastic show. We saw so many products related to the dairy industry, and we got to talk to a lot of people in the industry. Being here confirmed for us that the North American market is massive and that [WDE] would be a great place to do business.”
The following year, Todd and Brimble were back, this time as Trade Show exhibitors. They returned again in 2016 and 2017. “We’ve been able to find quite a few customers, both dairy producers and professional hoof trimmers here,” Brimble says.
Especially enjoyable for Brimble and Todd is the willingness of World Dairy Expo attendees to engage in conversation. “Whatever the reason, it seems like we spend more time talking with people at this show than we do with people at the shows we go to in the U.K.,” Brimble says.
While Moowell Ltd. exhibits at Expo to reach the North American market, building awareness of the company has been an additional benefit. “People come here from all over the world,” Brimble says. “That’s why Expo has become our primary show outside of the U.K. There are several big shows in Europe. But it would be more difficult for us to travel across Europe to be at each of those shows than it is for us to come to Madison and just do the one show where we can meet so many people from so many places in one week’s time.”
Weizur Group, an Argentina- based maker of animal health, hygiene and disinfectant products, has a similar view of the value of taking part in the WDE Trade Show.
“World Dairy Expo has been very productive for us,” says company spokesperson Florencia Weilenmann. Weizur Group has had a booth in the International Lounge for 20 years. “Over the years, we have been able to find distributors, clients and even new employees at this show. It is a great way for us to have an international presence in the dairy business.”
Traditionally, Weizur Group has focused on doing business in South American countries. But in recent years, the company has looked to branch out and now has a presence in the U.S., Mexico, New Zealand, China, India and Poland. “We actually met the contacts that helped us get started in some of those countries here at this show,” Weilenmann says. “And many of the people who come here are from countries where we are doing business. It gives us a chance to meet with them in person. Also, we can introduce our company and our products to new people. It really is a gathering place for the world’s dairy industry.“
The international presence is also the main reason GreenFreeStall, a division of Tags4all Global Inc., has been exhibiting at World Dairy Expo every year for nearly a decade. “I don’t know of any other show where you could find the international audience you get at Expo,” says company founder John Moses. “If you want a worldwide view of what’s going on in the dairy business, this is where you come.”
Based in Mitchell, Ontario, their flagship product is a freestall divider with floating neck and feed rails. The company also manufactures the Boomerang Dairy Sand Bedding System, a division of Sandmiser Inc. The company first brought its freestalls to Expo in 2009.
Due in part to an ongoing presence at Expo, the company has sold freestalls and bedding systems in Denmark, Germany, Ireland and the U.K. But North America, where the company has an extensive network of dealers, remains the primary market. “A lot of the owners and sales managers from the dealerships we work with come to Expo,” Moses notes. “Being here every year is an efficient way to stay in touch with them.”
A combination of factors makes exhibiting at WDE a worthwhile experience for Waikato Milking Systems, according to CEO Dean Bell. The New Zealand-based company has been participating in the Trade Show since 2009.
“While we’re here, we have access to dairy equipment dealers from all over North America,” Bell says. “That’s very important to us. And we get a lot of direct feedback from U.S. and Canadian farmers on how we’re doing. We hear about the things they like and about other things they’d like to see us doing. That’s always a good thing. On top of that, the show attracts a lot of international visitors, which makes it great for us to profile our company.”
Over the course of the 50 years it has been in business, Waikato has grown into New Zealand’s largest supplier of rotary milking parlors and related milking equipment. And over the past 20 years, Waikato has been extending its international presence and now does business in the U.K., Ireland, continental Europe, Russia, China, South Africa and Australia.
Recently the company ramped up its presence in the U.S. and Canada. In 2016, Waikato acquired Agricultural Instruments Corporation, a Wisconsin firm making milk sensing equipment and management software, and established a manufacturing facility in Verona, Wis., just a few miles from Madison.
“Having a presence at Expo is a no-brainer,” Bell says.