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ConExpo ’93 — All Business and Lots of It

Attendees of the 1993 event labeled it "Magnificent."

Wed November 06, 2013 - National Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

This ConExpo article was published in Construction Equipment Guide (CEG) on May 5, 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.

You don’t get to very many ConExpo’s in your life; right now, they only come once every six years so they’re something special in the construction world.

How do industry people feel about the show? Can it be improved? If so, how?

What did you like the most about ConExpo ’93? What did you like least?

Construction Equipment Guide asked dealers and equipment manufacturers in the MidAtlantic Region these and other questions. Their answers, generally positive, are a good indication that the show continues to be successful.

An estimated 95,000 visitors attended ConExpo ’93 in Las Vegas March 20 to 25. This wasn’t the largest attendance in the show’s history. (About 130,000 attended the last event in 1987). But it is generally regarded as very good, considering that the industry has “downsized” about 30 percent since ’87.

A common theme among those interviewed was the quality of the attendees. In this respect, downsizing seems to have been beneficial. People meant business, and they purchased a lot of equipment right off the displays.

“There were many high-caliber buyers, whereas in the past there were often a lot of lookers and tire kickers,” said Cindy Martins, product line marketing manager for LaBounty Manufacturing, Two Harbors, Minn.

“I liked the fact that the show didn’t seem to be crowded,” said John Jackson, president of Road Machinery Inc., an equipment dealer in Lionville, Pa. “You could talk with people much more easily; it was a good show, a real people show, with a lot of opportunity for us as dealers to meet with manufacturers and visitors. People were really interested in equipment.”

Jerry Thomsen, president of Trail King Industries, Mitchell, S.D., said, “We were extremely happy with the show. The quality of the people was very good; they were decision makers.”

Many of those interviewed said they sold a lot of machines.

“We sold well over 200 units as a result of the show,” said Bob Diener, director of advertising and publicity at Grove Worldwide, Shady Grove, Pa. “We were the largest exhibit, with 54,000 sq. ft., and it was the best show in our history as a company. The best thing about the show was the quality of the people attending.”

John Banes, northeastern region manager for Ingersoll-Rand Construction & Mining, Bethlehem, Pa., told CEG: “We had a very good show; we sold a lot of machinery.”

Tom Schwarz, operations manager for K.C. Canary Inc./Clifton Rock Inc., a dealer in Clifton Rock, N.Y., said he talked with a lot of small attachment manufacturers whom he might not have seen at a bigger show. “I went to the show with a couple of attachments in mind and talked with three or four manufacturers,” he said. “I also enjoyed talking with a lot of people that I don’t see on a regular basis.”

Tim O’Malley, sales manager, Daewoo Machinery Corp., Newark, N.J., said: “It wasn’t the show I’ve been used to because there wasn’t as much dirt equipment. My impression was that there was as much space as before, but a heck of a lot more small exhibitors.”

O’Malley, like just about everyone, felt the show was well organized.

Many said the show came at an extraordinarily good time for the industry, which is in an economic recovery and looking for the most productive equipment.

“The best thing about the show was its timing,” said LaBounty’s Martins. “The economy is turning around and the show came right as enthusiasm is building.”

Almost everyone said they thought the show should remain in Vegas. Their reasons: good accommodations, ability to handle crowds, availability of comparatively inexpensive entertainment.

“In Vegas, everywhere you go, there are cabs,” said K.C. Canary’s Schwarz. “In most cities, without a car, you’re lost. And places like Orlando cost you money for a whole day; you can’t go there for an evening.”

Some felt the show should be shorter.

“ConExpo was very good for us,” said Tim Gerbus, vice president, Moxy Trucks of America, Cincinnati, Ohio. “But the last couple of days, there was very little traffic.”

Gerbus felt that downsizing the show, however, turned out to be an advantage “because it helped us show our product.”

And most said they plan to be back for the next show, be it in 1999 or earlier.

“If I’m still breathing, I’ll go,” said Harold Howell, president of Harold Howell Construction Equipment Co., Jupiter, Fla.

The best thing about ConExpo ’93?

Many mentioned “the optimistic attitude among contractors and distributors” … “excellent organization for exhibitors” … “an opportunity to meet every type of contractor, foreign, as well as domestic” … and “as an exhibitor, we could move in and out quickly without a hassle.”

Pressed to give the “worst thing” about the show, interviewees usually had to think for a while.

“I guess the worst thing was trying to get a damn bus back to the hotel,” said Howell.

“The only hitch was the lead tracking system,” said John Brincefield, national sales manager for Power Curbers Inc., Salisbury, N.C. “This year, each booth used at least one machine, which was supposed to read a magnetic stripe on the visitor’s card to automatically get a name, address, phone number and other information. The machine didn’t work half the time; it was a pain in the butt.”

Each booth received the use of one machine as part of its participation, but many exhibitors rented additional ones, which rubbed salt in the wounds. In past years, visitors used credit cards, which were run through an imprinter for the information.

Some felt the show could be shorter.

“From our perspective, the last day and a half could have been cut,” said Power Curbers’ Brincefield. “I’d keep it to three or four days instead of five.” Though their booth sold four slip form pavers at the show, Brincefield said most of the action was during the first three days.”

But others said that, although their feet were hurting, they still got valuable contacts during the last two days, even though traffic slowed drastically.

Merle DenBesten, president of Vermeer Southeast Sales & Service Inc., Orlando, Fla., said his overall impression of the show as an equipment dealer was that “the interest level was very good; there was super-excellent traffic going through our booth.”

Asked for the worst thing about the show, he said: “The cost was prohibitive, but that was borne by the manufacturers, who put out a tremendous amount of dollars, willingly or unwillingly, to bring equipment to the location.”

Vermeer held a customer meeting in the Las Vegas area before the show, moving in a lot of equipment a day before the opening. The company was prohibited from bringing people the following day because it would compete with the show.

“To me, that’s a negative,” said DenBesten.

None of those interviewed thought any major feature of the show should be discontinued the next time. And they all thought ConExpo had a positive effect on the industry.

One word was used often: “Magnificent.”

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