No Other Show’s Attendees Represent More Sectors of the Construction Industry than CONEXPO-CON/AGG

“I think the possibilities for the show are limitless….

The 2017 edition of CONEXPO-CON/AGG, while being a magnet drawing global construction players to Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, is expected to advance to a new level of thought leadership on the back of its
Sara Conexpoprincipal attraction, the new Tech experience. SARA TRUESDALE MOONEY, SHOW DIRECTOR & VICE PRESIDENT, EXHIBITIONS & BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT, ASSOCIATION OF EQUIPMENT MANUFACTURERS, who is responsible for leading business development, strategic planning and achievement of goals for the organisation’s flagship construction and utility sector exhibitions CONEXPO-CON/AGG and ICUEE offered SHRIKANT RAO an understanding of the emerging contours of the global event to be held from March 7-11. Excerpts from the interview:

Give us an understanding of the on the ground feedback that you have received in the run-up to the delivery of the 2017 edition of CONEXPO-CON/AGG?

The industry is very excited about CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2017.  Since it happens only every 3 years, it is definitely not to be missed.  Our attendees provide testament to that by engaging with us on social
media and engaging with our pre-show communications and show planner.  There are a number of new and exciting things we are unveiling at this event and sharing the news about them has exhibitors and attendees excited.  From our new 75,000 net sq ft (@8,000 sqm) tech experience to our special events for young attendees as well as VIP customers, there is a lot going on.

Exhibiting at CONEXPO-CON/AGG & IFPE offers one of the best ways to get in front of a lot of customers and prospects in a relatively short amount of time. Trade shows give you the opportunity to not only show your product or describe your service, but also create that all important first impression.

To make sure our exhibitors are able to provide the best possible experience to attendees, we have been providing exhibitor education to help them make the most of their time at CONEXPO-CON/AGG & IFPE.  While the initial sessions were in-person, we also recorded the sessions and have provided them online for our exhibitors to view at their convenience. The sessions included Booth Designs for Small Budgets, Building Attendee Experience and Data & ROI: The Value of Measurement.

CAT APP FOR CONEXPOWe also have a monthly newsletter for our exhibitors that highlight different things they need to know leading up to the show. The feedback we received from these efforts have been nothing but positive. Our exhibitors feel prepared to put their best foot forward at CONEXPO-CON/AGG & IFPE 2017.

For our attendees, we launched CONEXPO-CON/AGG 365 – a weekly newsletter that allows us to stay connected to our attendees between the shows. The newsletter features content that our attendees are interested in, including emerging equipment and technology for the jobsite of the future, best practices to enhance your safety, and construction market information and trends. Our subscriptions to the newsletter continue to climb as well as our social shares – based on that, I’d say we are getting very positive feedback on what we are doing.

As organisers of CONEXPO-CON/AGG what are your expectations from the next edition of the show?

We expect to see hundreds of thousands of our industry coworkers gather in Las Vegas to see what’s new in the construction industry and promote the value of what we do for this country and the world for that matter.  Our staff has worked diligently to develop new ideas and programs for show exhibitors and attendees. We’d like our attendees to take advantage of as many of the education sessions, exhibitor booths and special events as possible. We expect a number of new technologies to be showcased and launched to increase productivity for our attendees and improve their ROI on the job.  We also will look forward to seeing people from over 135 countries sharing best practices and learning from each other how to work smarter, safer and faster to accomplish their goals.  To help them do this, we have developed a new show mobile app enhanced by beacon technology that will continuously synch to the shows’ online planner. Attendees can stay connected with show updates to maximize their time and stay organized with a personalized schedule of exhibitor and education details plus interactive 3D maps.

What is the view obtaining from Milwaukee of the current mood in the global construction equipment sector and its bearing on the show?

Overall, the construction industry is expected to see minimal growth from a global perspective.  Even minimal is better than no growth.  The strength of the US dollar is increasing the opportunity for domestic job and the President’s comments regarding increased spending on infrastructure projects have led to our industry remaining optimistic.  CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2017 has been named to the U.S. government’s ‘International Buyer Program’ (IBP) in recognition of the show’s global scope and reputation as a leading worldwide event. The IBP works to increase international attendance at U.S.-based exhibitions and create global business opportunities for show exhibitors. A select number of U.S. trade shows each year receive the IBP designation from the U.S. Department of Commerce after a rigorous selection process. The Show Management also partners with industry groups and other organizations to bring delegations of industry professionals together from around the world to CONEXPO-CON/AGG. The show offers a variety of services to make it easier for international industry professionals to plan their visit and conduct business onsite, including an International Trade Center onsite and an official Export Opportunities Guide. The International Trade Center (ITC) will also host a series of market-information updates during the show for key countries and world regions. We have also been realistic with our international attendance based purely on the strength of the dollar and its impact on people traveling to the United States from other countries. 

Give us a sense of what exhibitors and visitors can expect at CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2017

CONEXPO-CON/AGG and the co-located IFPE exhibitions will spotlight the latest technologies, products and best practices for the construction, construction materials and fluid power/power transmission/motion control industries.  The companies represented are top of class in their products and services. In addition, the education sessions are rated good to excellent by our attendees for providing relevant information that can help improve a company’s management process or bottom line.

The shows feature new registration Badge-Packs for added value and convenience, and access to the new Tech Experience. The Tech Experience extends the technology shown on the show floor and is dedicated to presenting emerging construction innovations that are driving change and process improvements across the industry. A highlight is the unveiling of the world’s first fully functional steel 3D printed excavator.

“At CONEXPO-CON/AGG we expect a number of new technologies to be showcased and launched to increase productivity for our attendees and improve their ROI on the job.  We also will look forward to seeing people from over 135 countries sharing best practices and learning from each other how to work smarter, safer and faster to accomplish their goals…

Tell us about the planning that has gone into the preparations of this event, the challenges faced and the changes made?

We plan this event by always keeping in mind the needs of our exhibitors and attendees. The Management Committee and show planning committees look at what we have done previously and how it can be improved. We listen to our attendees and exhibitors – what did they like, what would improve their experience? And we ask questions or the attendees and exhibitors as well as of ourselves to help gain a better understanding of the business need. We are always striving to improve the experience for everyone who attends CONEXPO-CON/AGG & IFPE.

Some of the items we changed this year include:

  • New registration Badge-Packs for added value and convenience and access to the new Tech Experience.
  • Show Mobile app that I spoke to previously.
  • A show layout that will connect attendees with exhibitors and feature additional food outlets and comfort zones, seating areas and charging stations.
  • A record number of 50-plus education sessions, including a new Technology track to provide attendees with the latest industry knowledge and best practices to improve their professional and company productivity.
  • Charity Give Back Initiatives. We have partnered with the Call of Duty Endowment as the official charitable partner for the 2017 events. 

From an AEM perspective give us briefly trace the progression made by CONEXPO-CON/AGG as a global brand since the first edition of Conexpo way back in 1909? 

CONEXPO-CON/AGG began as two separate events – CONEXPO and CON/AGG.  The first CONEXPO debuted in Ohio in 1909. The event started out as a “Road Show” and was considered a “hazardous experiment” event. All forty exhibitors displayed “amazing new devices” that could do the work of 15 horse-drawn units. The early CONEXPO shows were sponsored by some of the forerunners of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) and the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA).

CONEXPO became more comprehensive with each show, growing at a record pace during the construction industry’s “boom years” after World War II. In the 1970s, CONEXPO welcomed overseas exhibiting companies. It also began to feature an international business center. In the 1980s, the show made Las Vegas it’s new home to make room for the growing number of attendees as well as exhibits.

Just like CONEXPO, the CON/AGG show got its start in the early 1900s. It began as manufacturers’ exhibits at annual conventions of the forerunners of the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association (NRMCA) and the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA). In 1970, the event officially became “The Concrete and Aggregates Show.”

In 1996, CON/AGG joined forces with CONEXPO. Together, the shows became an unprecedented scope of equipment, products and services for the construction industry. It also became the definitive international industry gathering place. Attendees and exhibitors saw they could save time and money by attending one show every three years.

Could you share some statistical details of the previous edition of the show in terms of the extent of business generated, number of exhibitors and the visitor turnout?

International construction trade show CONEXPO-CON/AGG and co-locating fluid power technology expo IFPE has recorded almost 130,000 combined visitor numbers over five days, achieving the second-highest attendance in CONEXPO’s history since its debut in 1909. Over 1000 new products and services were on display at the expos. Of the total number of visitors, more than 75 per cent were in managerial roles, holding top titles such as president, owner, vice president, general manager etc. In addition to visitor numbers, exhibit space and number of exhibitors also soared from the past event. CONEXPO-CON/AGG recorded more than 2.35 million net square feet of exhibit space with over 2000 exhibitors while IFPE covered more than 161,000 net square feet exhibit space and 400 exhibitors. A record 41,000 education ticket sales were sold to the shows’ education programs. 

‘Imagine What’s Next’ is the theme for Conexpo Conagg 2017. Could you expand on trade show’s vision for the future and the criticality of technology for the Construction sector which will be demonstrated through what you have characterized as an ‘Immersive tech experience’? What will be the next generation technologies on display?

The Tech Experience extends the technology shown on the show floor and is dedicated to presenting emerging construction innovations that are driving change and process improvements across the industry. A highlight is the unveiling of the world’s first fully-functional steel 3D printed excavator.

The Tech Experience is divided into three areas including:

Jobsite – Get hands-on with intuitive equipment and connected intelligence at tomorrow’s smart jobsite including Autonomous Vehicles & Systems, Equipment Intelligence, and Site Intelligence & Visualization. Several exhibitors in this area include Convoy Technologies, Topcon Positioning Group and Volvo.

Infrastructure – Discover the innovations that will revitalize the structures and systems of society’s framework, including Advanced Materials, Infrastructure Influences, Voices & Vision and Modern Mobility. This area also features the Infrastructure Vision 2050 Challenge. AEM’s Infrastructure Vision 2050 Challenge Finale Event when the five finalists will present their pitches vying for $100,000 in prizes for the most innovative and viable redesign of the U.S. transportation system. A live panel of expert judges will weigh in on the proposals from a variety of angles, and final winners from the year-long competition will be announced on site. Get a chance to vote for your favorite in the Infrastructure Vision 2050 Challenge exhibit. Exhibitors in this area include Doka, Oak Ridge National Labs and Solar Roadways.

Workforce – Get ready to up your game. Test out hands-on training using virtual reality, gamified learning, and try on the latest in smart, connected jobsite wearables, including Career Mapping, Simulator Training and Smart Wearables. Exhibitors in this area include Ditch Witch, Telogis and Ekso Bionics.

Tech Talk Sessions – Visit the auditorium in the Tech Experience for an incredible lineup of speakers on exciting topics. The topics will include: The Connected Jobsite, How Drones Are Changing Construction, The Future of Transportation, Self-Healing Materials, The Maker Movement, Telematics and Gamification, Wearables and Personal Protective Equipment and SMART Highway and Sustainable Roads. Featured speakers include: D’Arcy Salzmann of Microsoft, Captains Mark & Scott Kelly NASA Astronauts, James Benham of JB Knowledge and Bruce Upbin of Hyperloop One.

Based on your snapshot survey of the exhibitors and participants what kind of feedback have you acquired of what might be expected of the industry in the future? Could you share some details? 

The attendees are excited about seeing new products, the Tech Experience, Mike Rowe, take advantage of the education, and the networking opportunities.

How different will CONEXPO-CON/AGG be from previous editions in terms of the exhibitor turnout, technology on display, the exhibition area, capacities and the special show attractions? Please share details about the exhibition facilities?  

Every major construction industry is represented amongst 2,500+ exhibitors, 700 new exhibitors, over 2,500,000 square feet and more than 150 education sessions including asphalt, aggregates, concrete, earthmoving, lifting, mining, utilities and more. We are anticipating 130,000 visitors from almost every country around the globe.

Some of the special events include: Construction Community Gives Back – To benefit The Call of Duty™ Endowment, CONEXPO-CON/AGG AND IFPE are hosting benefit auctions and a benefit concert with 100 per cent of the proceeds going to the Call of Duty Endowment.

NASCAR Experiences – If you’re a NASCAR fan, this is the experience you’ve been waiting for!

Young Attendee Meet-Ups- Join your peers each day to network and have some fun!

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VITAL STATS

It is reported an American football field could easily fit inside one of the ginormous metal-and-fabric structures monster membrane buildings that will enclose exhibits, registration and the new Tech Experience at CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2017 in Las Vegas. According to Pavilion Event Services, the contractor in charge of erecting the structures, altogether they will cover an area of 474,777 square feet, or a little more than eight football fields.

The break up includes:

  • Exhibit halls – 327,204 square feet
  • Registration (2) – 21,648 square feet
  • Tech Experience – 19,247 square feet
  • Exhibitor structures – 46,678 square feet 

Historically what is the extent of participation at CONEXPO-CON/AGG from visitors and exhibitors of the Indian subcontinent? Tell us about the services and business opportunities available at the platform

We don’t share our breakdown of visitors by country. However, I can tell you we have special services available to our international visitors. Our International Trade Center (ITC) located in room N250 is open during show hours and features the following:

Interpreter assistance – Interpreters will be available for assistance within the ITC area, typically in the following languages: Spanish, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian, German, Japanese, Korean, French, and Italian. There is a 2 hour per day time limit on both the private meeting rooms and the interpreters. There are facilities like high-speed internet, computers, printer, private meeting rooms and a lounge area.

From the point of view of Global Business Opportunities, the International Buyer Program, a partnership between the U.S. Department of Commerce and Show Management, will provide a range of complimentary services in the International Trade Center for international delegates and U.S. exhibitors to facilitate their business matchmaking prospects. The services include a Showtime Program for U.S. exhibitors to meet individually with U.S. Commercial Service market specialists from up to 30 countries and learn about export opportunities and market entry strategies in their respective markets.  We also have free onsite business matchmaking services to facilitate interaction and business prospects between exhibitors and international visitors. Vistors have chances to opt-in to our matchmaking service. The show also offers export counseling assistance, including discussion of best export markets, tariff and regulatory issues, and the U.S. Department of Commerce export programs.  Then there is one-on-one U.S. export financing counseling by trade finance specialists from the Export-Import Bank of the United States on the full array of financing programs available to U.S. exporters. One can schedule an appointment to learn how you can extend credit terms and protect against non-payment, obtain working capital to fulfill orders, and secure competitive financing for creditworthy buyers. Export Interest Directory, which is a free directory of the exhibitors interested in direct sales, distributorships, joint ventures and other business opportunities in specific overseas markets is also available.

The ITC will also host a series of market-information updates during the show for key countries and world regions. On Thursday, March 9 from 2:30-3:30 pm, India will be featured. The speakers will include David Phillips, Managing Director, Off Highway Research and Anand Sundaresan, ICEMA President and Vice Chairman and Managing Director Schwing Stetter India. 

What are the major concerns of the Construction Sector that CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2017 will seek to highlight?

Workforce development is an issue that many of exhibitors and attendees say is on their radar. That is why CONEXPO-CON/AGG & IFPE will offer in-depth industry education with a record number of sessions and flexible education ticket options to fit attendee needs and schedules.

Our attendees also want to see what is possible for the future of the industry. The Tech experience extends the technology shown on the show floor and is dedicated to presenting emerging construction innovations that are driving change and process improvements across the industry. 

In a world in which countries like China are beginning to assert themselves what kind of strategies has AEM adopted to push forward American business objectives? How are you aligning yourself with the fast changing global market equations?

We fiercely advocate for the policy interests that affect our community of equipment manufacturers, on an international, federal, state, and local level. We help equipment manufacturers of all sizes and sectors trade with the world to find new customers, grow jobs domestically and improve our country’s competitiveness in an increasingly interconnected economy. Currently, ninety-five percent of the world’s consumers live outside the borders of the United States. Equipment manufacturers need policies and trade agreements in place that help us reach these consumers and compete successfully in an increasingly tough global economy.

AEM maintains a robust Tech and Safety Department which works directly with member companies to develop international standards and industry best practices. Given the global scope of our industry, international standards play an important role in the future engineering and development of machinery.

We are also focused on supporting Manufacturing Exports. The U.S. Export-Import Bank is the national export credit agency. Since 1932, Ex-Im Bank has provided export credit and insurance to U.S. manufacturers. The bank has supported billions in U.S. exports and generates revenue for the U.S. Treasury.

What are your views on the future of this event? 

From contractors to dealers and distributors, service providers, engineers and producers, CONEXPO-CON/AGG brings construction professionals from across all disciplines. No other show’s attendees represent more sectors of the construction industry than CONEXPO-CON/AGG. I think the possibilities for this show are limitless. After all, this year we invite show attendees to Imagine What’s Next.

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