Laser business prospects bright in California

Dr. Ron Schaeffer, a member of the Industrial Laser Solutions International Editorial Advisory Board, shares  his recent experiences from an extended West Coast sales and marketing trip. We specifically asked him to check out the pulse of the recovery in industrial laser processing.

Editors Note: We asked Dr. Ron Schaeffer, a member of the Industrial Laser Solutions International Editorial Advisory Board to share with readers his recent experiences from an extended West Coast sales and marketing trip. We specifically asked him to check out the pulse of the recovery in industrial laser processing.

My recent three-week trip to California was probably one of the most productive I have ever had. The first week was at Photonics West in San Francisco, where I estimate that I did more business during the first two days than I usually do in a week. Furthermore, I do not recall talking to a single person that was not upbeat about 2010. In fact, many of them said that the first two or three quarters of 2009 were slow but activity picked up significantly in Q4 and their backlogs going into 2010 were good.

I spent the week after Photonics West visiting customers and attending some minor tradeshows. These visits and events were more upbeat this year than last year. The positive vibrations came from across market sectors (excluding automotive). I sense the semiconductor sector is roaring back to life, the aerospace/defense sector is still strong, the scientific sector (which was very positive last year) seems to be continuing this strength, and the medical device market also seems to be strong and growing.

Last week I attended the MD&M West show in Anaheim. This show is typically the largest and most active of the medical devices and manufacturing shows in North America. Last year we were very busy at this show because we do about 70% of our work in the medical device market, which is traditionally less sensitive to fluctuations in the economy than other sectors. This year there were fewer vendors, but it appeared that most of those that had dropped out were involved in packaging or other non-laser related activities.

The show was very upbeat and attendance numbers were probably near what they were last year despite the fact that many vendors and attendees from the East could not travel because of the record snow fall. There was a number of new laser machining and marking companies as well as the usual line up of established firms.

One very important thing to remember is that 50% of all the disposable medical devices used worldwide are still manufactured in the U.S.A. The MD&M East show will be held in New York City in June and indications are that it will be livelier than last year.

Ron Schaeffer, (rschaeffer@photomachining.com), Chief Executive Officer, Photomachining Inc., Pelham, NH.

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