Exclusive Interview with Manish Gandhi, COO & Executive Director – ABEC Exhibitions & Conferences.


Q. Please tell us how did you conceptualize ‘ACETECH’?
A. We started off our journey in the exhibitions back in 1993 when we had the oil and gas show and after the oil and gas show, we launched an education show back in 2002 and a jewelry show. So the first couple of years it was all B2C shows post that in 2006 we found there was big gap wherein there was no show on building materials. So in 2006, we launched ACETECH. And ACETECH was a mix of a couple of shows put together. There was an Engineering Expo, a Glass show and there was a Building material show from which was slowly devolved. It’s the 11th year now and it’s the 40th edition of ACETECH. The show has become world’s third largest building materials show with100, 000 square meters. And it is all because of the participation of industry. The industry helped to grow it. We kept changing the model; now it’s an interior design architecture show with the focus on architects.

Q. As we all know that Pragati Maidan is under renovation, Mr. Gandhi we would like to know, how did you cope up such a large show in this area?
A. We have made use of lot of temporary structures in this edition of ACETECH. Thanks to Dara projects, we have created beautiful zones for the event. We have dedicated zones for networking, business lounge, organiser’s office, entertainment, food and snacks, conference etc. We always try to stick to Pragati Maidan, because it’s centrally located, has got good access, which makes a lot of sense for the visitors. So we do not mind taking all these troubles just to stay in the venue.

Q. And Mr. Gandhi we all know that you are known in the industry to bring that glamour quotient in your shows, even in the B2B shows now. What is the secret behind that and who has been the brand ambassador this year?
A. So, we have been with Shahrukh Khan for the last three years and Shahrukh has a very good personality in terms of not just a B2C icon, he is also with big brands like Hindware and he has this B2B image. So the idea is to get more recognition, get more footfalls and yeah enhanced impact. We would definitely not tie up with any other movie star. Also, now the content is the king. So, organizers need to really focus on giving value to their exhibitors. The concept is called ROTI – Return of Time and Investment. So every exhibitor who is investing so much money and time coming here, they need to get the absolute value.

Q. Mr. Gandhi, I would like to know, as a leading organizer you engage with the industry corporate, you engage with the industry stakeholders and I am sure you engage with the industry policymakers also. Organizing such a leading show for the industry what kind of an impact does ‘ACETECH’ make to the overall industry?
A. Oh, that’s a very good question. In fact, you know we have been working very closely with the apex body for housing, then we have been working with NBCC, we have been working with the BAI (Builder’s Association of India), we had the principal secretary of DDA (Delhi Development Authority) opening the show for us. We have involved the housing ministry in various shows. We had the Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is coming to the Mumbai show and talked about the radar policies and all that.

See as an exhibition organizer we always try to maintain the focus that we do not become or we do not imitate thought leaders and there is no intention to replace them also because of the kind of experience what they have. But we want to give a platform which is very rich in terms of people doing business. So once the focus is that if our exhibitors are able to do maximum business we don’t lose that focus, so we directly see what’s the impact. So if somebody is coming from DDA, we try to lock in maximum orders for the participants because that’s what an exhibition is supposed to do. Definitely when such a large exhibition happens it does influence a lot of policy changes which is across the spectrum. Like the ceramics industry the leaders are participating with us so they have various issues from GST, the raw material etc. We also have co-located seminars where a lot of content and knowledge is exchanged. We don’t try to get too much into that because then if you do that you are losing focus on what the real purpose of the platform is – which is to generate real business!

Q. Mr. Gandhi, you seem to be a very fit professional in the exhibition industry. We all know the odd timings that prevail in the industry, how do you cope up under such pressures and still maintaining such a fit body?
A. (Smiles) I workout, I definitely go to the gym regularly. But I work out for sanity more than vanity and I make sure that I work out at least thirty minutes whatever and wherever I am traveling. I think everybody should do it as fresh vigor and creativity is infused when the body is charged up.

I just turned 40 last year and it was a big game-changer for me, so I take that extra effort now to exercise daily. The exhibition business is very stressful because we are running against time always and the last 15 years to 20 years we have been doing a lot of night shifts. And family life definitely gets compromised but it’s very rewarding, it’s very glamorous and the feeling when you are walking in the show- you feel like a movie director, who created an event out of a dream. Moreover, after the incorporation of IHFF, there is that extra pressure on me because I get a lot of social media messages that if you are running a fitness show then you need to be fit yourself !

Q. One last message to the budding entrepreneurs who seek to build up their careers in the exhibition industry, what would be your advice to them?
A. I feel that there is no substitute to hard work. There are tons of opportunities especially in a country like us, if a person is putting the right amount of time and the focus is there and if you are sincere about what you are doing, be it as an exhibition organiser or a service provider. I see so much buzz happening and I wish I would be in my early 20’s as I would love to relive this entire time, because it’s been an era full of excitement and challenges!

As a company, at ABEC, I am always open for new tie up’s, if anybody comes to me with an idea and I feel the person more than the idea, I am up for it. so yes that will be a message that if anybody wants to connect they can, if their ideas are in line with their passion and committment to work hard, then this industry has much to offer.


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