Esprit’s Sharon Bedford on Southern Manufacturing 2016

February heralds the UK’s longest running and largest exhibition for electronics production, sourcing and subcontracting, Southern Manufacturing. This is an important event for Esprit and I was very pleased to be manning the stand in my capacity of Customer Services and Planning Manager, along with my colleagues Sales Director Russell Otter, Supply Chain Director Paul Handley, Technical Director Lee Holloway and Managing Director Laurie Sigournay.

As a visitor in previous years, I must admit I hadn’t appreciated the work involved in exhibiting. Much thought and planning is required and setting up and dismantling the stand is really hard work! Some companies hire sub-contractors to do this for them but many, like Esprit, roll up their sleeves and arrive carrying panels, posters, cabinets, tables, seating, leaflets and promotional products. This year we had the added challenge of the extreme weather conditions presented to us by storm Imogen, meaning exhibitors were not permitted to set up their stands until 10pm the night before.  Normally we have plenty of time but this year unfortunately not, so really, hats off to all those who worked long in to the night and got up extra early to get the stands ready for Tuesday morning.

Parking is free and well-provided which is a definite plus for visitors. By 11 on the first day the hall was really buzzing. We had many visitors to our stand and it is so inspiring to meet such creative and interesting people across all industry sectors. Some visitors were looking for a more local manufacturer, some were looking for a manufacturer who could take them from low to medium/high volume and others were looking to add an additional source or replace an in-house function. All in all we enjoyed a variety of enquiries and look forward to engaging with as many of them as possible throughout the year.

Exhibiting at an event such as this also gives us a chance to meet other suppliers and those we wouldn’t ordinarily cross paths with. Southern Manufacturing brings 600+ top suppliers of the latest in Automation and Robotics, CNC Machining & Tooling, Packaging & Handling, Electronic Components & Enclosures, Cable Assembly, Labelling & Marking, Electronic Sub-contract Manufacture, PCB, Design & Rapid Prototyping, Pressings, Castings & Mouldings, Fabrication & Fastenings, High Precision Engineering to name but a few. I really enjoyed chatting with many of them, talking about how the show was going for them and how business was for them generally. There are some really fascinating and friendly characters out there!

I left on Thursday evening feeling very positive for the electronics manufacturing sector in the UK and for Esprit Electronics. Well done everyone and good luck for 2016!