— Igor Palka, Chief Executive Officer, bC India Expo Pvt. Ltd
Igor Palka was a student when he joined Messe München, the organiser of the Bauma Conexpo show, and 10 years later he is the CEO of bC India, overseeing the third leg of the expo in Greater Noida near Delhi. He took over from Thomas Löffler who is now additional Deputy CEO at MMI Shanghai, a subsidiary of Messe München. “I’m very proud to have the chance to realise a project like bC India in such an interesting market like India,” Igor Palka told Prashant C. Trikannad in an exclusive interview.
Igor, what are your key expectations from the third edition of bC India international trade fair?
We have been getting queries from across India, which made us confident about the impact that this show has on the construction and infrastructure sector. Trade shows are traditionally an event where companies show their latest products and innovations and I’m convinced that this year’s bC India will be no difference: there will be novelties, innovative products, shows, technologies etc. For our visitors, it will be a great platform to get first-hand information in a short period of time.
Apart from the change in venue, what other changes can we expect from bC India 2014 compared to the previous two editions in 2011 and 2013?
I think that the new venue and its location in the north of India is, indeed, the biggest change. So far no major exhibition for the construction industry has happened in this region. Apart from that we pretty much stick to the concepts we had in 2011 and 2013 as they proved to be very effective for exhibitors and visitors alike.
However, I’d like to point out that recently even Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Road Transportation and Highways, accepted the invitation and confirmed to visit and inaugurate this year’s show.
Can you give us some figures pertaining to the exhibition space, the number of exhibitors and visitors, and the kind of equipment and machinery that will be on display at bC India 2014?
From the first edition in 2011 to the second one in 2013 we had an increase from 508 to 710 participating companies which was a big success and approximately a growth of 40 per cent. This year we hope to see the same number of exhibitors as in the last event and an increase in terms of visitor response by another 10 to 15 per cent compared to the 28,000 business visitors that we welcomed last year in Mumbai.
We also have new players like Amann Apollo, Elgi, Layher and L&T participating this year for the first time. In 2013, we welcomed approximately 40 per cent Indian headquartered companies and more than 60 per cent of foreign headquartered companies and expect the same ratio at bC India 2014.
As far as the exhibition space is concerned, bC India will take up 120,000 sq. metres.
How many country pavilions are going to be there? Who are some of the new entrants to the trade fair?
This year we will be welcoming exhibitors from more than 30 countries worldwide including national pavilions from China, Germany, Italy, Spain, Korea, USA and the UK
With a new and pro-reform government in New Delhi, what impact will bC India have on construction and earthmoving equipment and its associated industries?
In my eyes there is a very obvious need of further infrastructural development plans in view of the country’s general need to improve the current situation. The growth of the construction equipment industry is almost assured, irrespective of the region.
Looking at the current five-year plan and the huge planned infrastructure investment, I am convinced that this will attract many international clients.
Also, with the new government at the Centre and its focus on infrastructure development, trade shows like bC India will be crucial. We have been visiting various states and meeting with various state governments and we have realised that all of them are looking at developing their infrastructure within next few years. This should certainly become a booster for our trade show.
Igor, from a young student at bauma 2004 in Munich to heading bC India 2014 in Noida, India, you have come a long way. Can you briefly talk about your association with this major trade fair?
From my very beginnings at Messe München 10 years ago, I was somehow involved with our big shows like IFAT and especially bauma. After my first bauma in 2004 I wanted to be more and more involved with the project and organise such a show. So, there is, of course, a very emotional connection with this kind of trade fair. Therefore, I’m very proud to have the chance to realise a project like bC India in such an interesting market like India.
What are your thoughts on India as an investment destination for international companies? What do you like about the country?
Even though India is still facing a slight downturn, it’s a country with huge potential and lots of opportunities. That’s why India still is an upcoming market which will further develop. It already is a very interesting market for companies from all over the world and I’m convinced that its importance will grow even further.
For me, personally, India is a fascinating country. Of course, living here is different from living in Germany but definitely in a good way. The way people cope with and solve problems is great; everybody is so friendly and positive even if any challenges occur. And all my business partners and colleagues welcomed me warmly here and helped me to find my way. India is truly incredible and has become a very special place for me.