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Shale Plays Media CEO and Co-Founder Mike Marcil with workforce and hiring expert Bill Inman at the Shale Plays Media booth. Image by Ben Reed/Shale Plays Media

Electric atmosphere Ark-La-Tex expo proves the value of face time

With oil prices struggling to regain ground after plummeting to record lows in recent months, it’s easy for many companies in the field to feel discouraged. Job losses, budget cuts, marginal profits and drilling cutbacks can all drain the industry. But at the Ark-La-Tex Oilfield Expo in Shreveport, Louisiana, this week, companies weren’t about to let that stand in the way of doing business.

“People are looking for ways to defend themselves against falling oil prices,” said Michelle Manningham, the vice president of marketing for Texas Classic Productions. “So many people were building relationships and partnerships through actual sales and getting face time. As soon as oil prices start to rise, they’re going to be able to come out stronger than they were before.”

Shale Plays Media interviewed over 40 companies throughout the day, chatting with executives about what their companies are bringing to the table as well as discussing the hurdles many of them are facing in current market conditions.

For some companies, the slowdown has resulted in a boost in business. R3 Fusion Inc., for example, told Shale Plays Media that the decreased activity in drilling and hydraulic fracturing has put the company’s efficient, low-cost water purification technology in the spotlight. The water which comes up during the exploration and production process is typically recycled into the projects, but with fewer new projects, companies are coming up with more waste than usual. Bobb Campbell, R3 Fusions’s chief executive officer, said, “With the slowdown in drilling and fracking now, their water tanks are filling up, their frack ponds are filling up, and our phones have gotten a lot busier because companies are struggling with how to get rid of the water.”

But many other service companies haven’t been so lucky, losing contracts and struggling to find new ones. Manningham pointed out that this is what makes Texas Classic Productions’ trade shows indispensable. The two-way conversation with companies and customers in need are what make expos like Ark-La-Tex a must for marketing budgets.

“If companies can come to our trade show and learn how to cut costs in other ways, maybe by being able to get better deals on products or services, then that helps make the company more profitable during a down market,” she explained. And if companies can cut expenditures in other areas, they might need fewer layoffs, which is the most common way companies deal with low commodity prices.

The exhibit spaces sold out eight weeks in advance of the show, and with over 300 vendors packed into the new Shreveport venue, there were plenty of connections to be made. The Ark-La-Tex expo had previously been held in Longview, Texas, as the East Texas Oilfield Expo, but the popularity of the show meant a bigger venue in the Haynesville Shale area was a must. The Shreveport Convention Center did not disappoint, and it was filled the buzz of making business happen. “The environment was absolutely electric,” Manningham noted.

The Ark-La-Tex expo was free to attend, and the registration line remained steady throughout the day. For those attendees who were hoping to get a glimpse of the show’s benefits before adding Texas Classic Productions to their marketing budget, their biggest question was, “When’s the next show?”

The South Texas Oilfield Expo will take place July 29-30, 2015, but until then, Shale Plays Media is working to facilitate making those connections with its new marketplace. Check it out by visiting marketplace.haynesville.com.

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