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A Look Back at ConExpo ’93: More Than 96,000 Attend in Vegas

Over 800 exhibitors and 960,000 net square feet of exhibit space added up to one big show in 1993.

Wed October 23, 2013 - National Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

This ConExpo article was published in Construction Equipment Guide (CEG) on April 7, 1993. This and other ConExpo articles to follow will be part of a continuing series that take a look back at ConExpos past through the reporting of CEG. We hope you enjoy these retros as much as we did searching for them deep in our archives.

In spite of a down economy and a 50 percent decline in earthmoving machinery sales since 1989, ConExpo ’93 hosted more than 96,000 construction professionals from around the world, the third largest attendance in its 84-year history, according to preliminary figures provided by Exposition Manager Dennis Slater.

Held March 20 to 25 in Las Vegas, the exposition had 800 exhibitors and occupied 960,000 net square feet of exhibit space, indoors and outside — the largest exhibitor count and display area in its history.

At the last ConExpo, held in 1987 in Las Vegas, 308 companies used 908,000 net square feet of exhibit display space.

ConExpo ’93 also made history by hosting a record 25 foreign delegations organized by the foreign service nationals in U.S. embassies and consulates abroad. Approximately 800 delegates attended the show as part of the Foreign Buyer Program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Commerce. These totals surpassed any other industry show of any type since the inception of the program.

Non-U.S. attendance is estimated to represent between 20 and 25 percent of the total attendance, according to Len Heimowitz, U.S. Dept. of Commerce, International Trade Administration ConExpo liaison. Included were 140 attendees who were at ConExpo under a United States Trade and Development Agency grant.

ConExpo was held in conjunction with the Associated General Contractors of America’s annual CONSTRUCTOR exposition, which added another 150 exhibitors occupying an additional 150,000 net square feet of exhibit space. This brought the combined total of the event to 950 exhibitors and 1,110,000 net square feet of exhibit space, making it the biggest construction equipment exposition in the world in 1993.

ConExpo is sponsored and produced by the Construction Industry Manufacturers Association (CIMA). ConExpo has historically been held every six years since 1957. The CIMA board of directors has appointed a committee to study the feasibility of changing the cycle to a shorter time frame. The committee will submit its recommendations regarding the cycle and location of the next ConExpo to the board for consideration at its next meeting in April.

Opening Day Ceremonies participants included Gary Godbersen, ConExpo ’93 general chairman; John Panettiere, 1993 chairman, Construction Industry Manufacturers Association (CIMA); Fred J. Broad, CIMA president and secretary; Robins Jackson, president, Associated General Contractors; Hubert Beatty, executive vice president, Associated General Contractors; Paul Christensen, chairman, Las Vegas Convention & Visitor’s Authority.

ConExpo is sponsored and produced by CIMA, the international trade group representing construction equipment manufacturers and construction-services providers.

Who Ran the ConExpo Show

When ConExpo ’93 opened its doors on March 20, the crowds that swarmed into the Las Vegas Convention Center surpassed even the most grandiose expectations. In one of America’s largest buildings, it was almost elbow-to-elbow with enthusiastic contractors, material producers, equipment dealers and manufacturers. The staffs at nearly every exhibit area were pressed throughout the day giving out literature, answering questions and, in general, just doing the job of being an exhibitor at ConExpo.

Conexpo ’93 is one of the largest private industry trade shows in the world. It is produced and sponsored by the Construction Industry Manufacturers Association (CIMA) and continued through March 25 in Las Vegas, Nev.

“The willingness to search for new approaches to old problems,” said ConExpo General Chairman Gary Godbersen, “has brought the construction industry to its present position. Without that willingness we would still be crossing rivers by ferry boat or working in iron-raftered buildings only a few stories tall.”

That search for new construction ways and means focused on ConExpo this year. This exposition originated in 1909 in Columbus, Ohio, as the “Road Show” with 40 exhibitors using 40,000 square feet of display space. About 1,000 persons came to that first exposition.

Enhancing ConExpo’s worldwide stature were national exhibits by construction equipment associations from Great Britain and Italy, plus company exhibits from Germany, Austria, Japan, Korea, France, Australia, Finland, Norway and others.

“We anticipate that final figures will show some 100,000 construction-oriented people attended ConExpo ’93,” said Dennis Slater, ConExpo exposition manager, “and a large percentage of these came from outside the United States.”

A comprehensive series of educational seminars helped make ConExpo ’93 a complete learning experience. The 36 ConExpo sessions dealt with topics of particular interest to worldwide construction professionals and included six sessions on road-related subjects sponsored by the International Road Federation. Also, the Transportation Research Board presented four sessions to share innovations emerging from its five-year Strategic Highway Research Program. In addition, the U.S. Small Business Administration presented three educational sessions on export-related topics.

CIMA 1993 Chairman John Panettiere pointed out: “ConExpo’s educational aspects with the unique opportunity afforded to attendees so that they could interface with the engineers and designers of machinery being viewed and considered for their operations, and to make direct comparisons between various equipment.”

Concluded Godbersen: “Besides equipment and technology, ConExpo ’93 could be the economic launching pad for the construction industry. What attendees saw and heard at the Show will give them business direction for the remainder of the decade and beyond.”

CIMA and AGC combined major industry events in 1993, providing construction influential people an unparalleled opportunity to view the equipment and technology that can enhance their productivity and professionalism through the ’90s.

AGC’s annual convention with its CONSTRUCTOR Exposition ran concurrently with CIMA’s ConExpo ’93 International Construction Equipment Exposition in Las Vegas. The AGC convention was held in the Las Vegas Hilton, Sahara and Riviera hotels, March 17 through 23 with indoor and outside exhibits at the Hilton. ConExpo ’93 was held next door in the new Las Vegas Convention Center, March 20 through 25. In addition to sharing common show sites, both shows shared common show dates in adjoining outdoor and demonstration space.

“The benefits of combining these two major events were many,” commented AGC President Robins H. Jackson, chairman of Cedar Valley Corp., Waterloo, Iowa. “The scope of exhibits provided contractors of all sizes with a comprehensive view of vital equipment for all their operations,” Jackson added.

“In addition,” stated CIMA’s 1993 Chairman John M. Panettiere, president of Blount Inc., Forestry Division, Montgomery, Ala., “combining our forces produced an event with a total of 950 exhibitors using 1,108,000 net square feet of space-making this the biggest construction event in the world in 1993.”

“Besides the thousands of contractors who came for the events,” pointed out Gary Godbersen, ConExpo general chairman and president of GOMACO Corp., Ida Grove, Iowa, “a large representation of federal, state, county and city/town public works officials were on hand, creating a unique forum between the public and private sectors.”

Coming Soon: Can the greatest equipment show on earth be even better?

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