Sometimes great shows aren’t successful just because of great new gear, but also due to great rumors. The one product subject to various rumors that were being whispered at the OutDoor show was the eVent membrane marketed by General Electric, the huge U.S. multi-industry group.
Some exhibitors heard that G.E. is going to shut down its eVent business entirely. Others said they learned that G.E. was going to cancel the brand name, but would continue to sell the product. Another whisper echoed through the halls in Friedrichshafen was that G.E. would cut its marketing budget for eVent significantly. Other manufacturers observed that G.E. was not happy with its sales of eVent membranes and was pushing its customers hard to buy more square meters. One exhibitor told us that G.E. might drop its business relations with the outdoor performance market in order to get ready for the mass market.
Right after the show, G.E. made an effort to clarify things. Glenn Crowther, the company’s global product line leader for performance fabrics, flatly denied that G.E. was considering the shut-down of the eVent business. Instead, the company is trying to improve its relationship with customers. To achieve this, Crowther is calling for more “flexibility,” meaning that that G.E. is no longer trying to impose the eVent brand name on its customers. They can use it if they want to, but this is not required. He argued that the most important thing is not the brand name, but the customer and the quality of the latter’s product. eVent aims to direct its marketing resources into research and development to provide the best product in the market.
Crowther admitted, however, that G.E. took some steps to reduce operating costs; for example it most recently laid off Hank Aldrich, who had been eVent’s sales manager for northern Europe.