A Conversation With ... Steve Smith

The SUR/FIN shows in Chicago and Las Vegas the past two years have received good reviews from attendees and exhibitors. The man who led the NASF committee organizing SUR/FIN was Steve Smith, the vice president of sales and marketing for Process Technology, which designs and manufactures process heating and cooling equipment for the plating industry.
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It seemed like the 2012 SUR/FIN show went very well in Las Vegas. Overall, what is your impression of the event now that it’s over?
SS: The SUR/FIN committee was extremely pleased with the event this year. Attendance was very strong, and several key indicators were up significantly. Participation in our technical program was up sharply, thanks to the hard work of the Technical Advisory Committee, which put together a truly outstanding, world-class program. International attendance was also very strong, due in part to the draw of Las Vegas. Exhibitors indicated that they were very pleased to see a different demographic this year, with strong attendance from California and other western states. Of particular note was the high quality of the attendees. The show drew key decision makers and people with active projects.
Having run the past two SUR/FIN programs in Chicago and Las Vegas, what have you learned about the event-planning aspect of a trade show?
SS: It was a real eye opener to see exactly how much detail goes into making an event like SUR/FIN happen. Within an hour of SUR/FIN 2012 ending, we were already meeting to discuss and plan for SUR/FIN 2013 in Chicago. It is an important part of the process to constantly assess and evaluate what works and doesn’t work, and to adjust accordingly to make the event better year after year.
How hard is it to be the leader of the steering committee at a show and be an exhibitor at the same time, trying to meet new customers and talk with your current ones?
SS: Well, I would be less than candid if I didn’t admit that it was not easy. Exhausting is the word that comes to mind. But at the same time, it was exhilarating. I can’t remember the last time I worked so hard and had so much fun all at the same time. Process Technology was proud to be an ambassador for NASF these past two years. The only frustrating thing about the job was to still run into people who don’t appreciate just how vital NASF is to our industry and livelihood.
In regard to Process Technology, how has your involvement with the NASF and the SUR/FIN show affected your company and its development with its customers?
SS: Process Technology has benefited in innumerable ways by participating with NASF. The networking opportunities alone are impossible to put a price on. And being in a high-profile position with SUR/FIN was like advertising for Process Technology every day these past two years. The time and expense invested comes back several-fold. I would encourage other companies in the industry that might be sitting on the sidelines to become more involved with NASF on the local or national level. The exposure you will receive is well worth it.
What’s the best personal or professional advice you’ve been given, and why?
SS: I have been very fortunate in my career to have had great mentors and professional associates. A number of things come to mind, but one that I keep coming back to is: If you are not doing something you really like, you should find something else to do. You have to believe in the product or service you provide to be truly effective in promoting your business. Anything less short-changes you and your customer.
What book or article have you recently read that you would recommend to a colleague?
SS: I recently picked up Ken Blanchard’s Leading at a Higher Level, which talks about leading through example and inspiring others to be their best. But I’m not above reading the occasion escapist novel once in awhile, too.
What artist or album are you listening to in your car?
SS: My music tastes are pretty eclectic. I enjoy a wide range of sounds. I’m looking forward to seeing Train when they come to town in a few weeks.
To learn more visit Process Technology