Endeavor Business Media, the publishers of Industrial Laser Solutions, organizes and arranges the Lasers & Photonics Marketplace Seminar at SPIE Photonics West and tons of time and energy go into the presentations given so that the information is current and accurate. But, two months ago—actually, even one month ago—who would have thought that things would have progressed to this point? The stock market in general took a beating last week. In the laser world, for example, Coherent stock was at $177 on January 19th and on March 13th, it had fallen to $111. IPG Photonics stock was $149 on February 13th and it was at $111 on March 13th—Friday the 13th, I should point out.
I do not recall such a disruption in ‘normal’ routine ever, including in the days after 9/11.
At SPIE Photonics West, we received word that the big SEMICON China show was being canceled or postponed and later in that week the big LASER World of PHOTONICS China show. At the time, I don’t think anyone really believed it would go much farther, but recently, pretty much all the conferences, shows, exhibits, etc. that involve the laser industry or the manufacturing industry using lasers have been either canceled completely or rescheduled. For instance, we just got word that the BIOMEDevice Boston show will be postponed from the week of March 4th to the week of September 14th, which is the same week as the already scheduled IMTS show.
With the announcement on March 13th of the pretty much complete international travel ban into the U.S., even if someone for some reason wanted to leave the country now, it would be difficult—and even more difficult to get back in. That is my biggest fear—not dying or really even getting very ill, but being stopped at the border and quarantined. Plus, travel is normally a total hassle anyway—who needs the additional irritation? I usually like to give feedback from the many venues I attend, especially ramping up in the spring and fall conference seasons. However, I won’t be out pressing the flesh for at least the next few months and then I guess we will see how things go.
In the meantime, think about the positive sides. Everyone that normally travels, especially using air, gets a bit of a break to stay home with family for the next few months. And, nobody has to worry about their competitor getting a leg up because everyone is in the same boat. Also, if you really do want to travel, like to some nice place with no rampant disease, OR if you want to plan for travel later in the summer—travel deals are GREAT right now (assuming the airlines are still around later in the year!). Also, stocks are a bargain! Fluctuations in the market are scary, but astute investors know that fortunes are made in volatile financial times, not in static financial times. Don’t sell short! There is tons of data available that shows that after every ‘flu’ scare in the past, markets have fallen (sometimes significantly) and always have rebounded within a few months. It is sure the same thing will happen here.
I am always interested in hearing your thoughts concerning laser micromachining, the laser industry, comments on entrepreneurial endeavors, etc. AND … we are always looking for fresh, publishable material. Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.