Earlier today, before the announcement came in from show management that the just-concluded 2009 World of Asphalt Show & Conference and co-located AGG1 Aggregates Forum & Expo were an unqualified success, I was talking to a friend who had just returned from the World of Asphalt. He said, “Once I managed to get through the Orlando Airport Fun Park and get to my hotel things improved. It took me from 2 pm to 5:30 pm to get my car and get to the hotel. That’s Orlando for you!” After he calmed down, he added, “This really was an excellent show. All of the exhibitors were happy, I mean genuinely happy, not the kind of happy you usually get from a down show, ‘traffic was light but they were all buyers.’”
We talked a little more and as our conversation went on he added, “One of the exhibitors was kicking himself for not having more equipment and another was chastising himself because he hadn’t brought any Hispanic speaking staff.”
According to my friend, it was the best show of the year. He had attended several others earlier and was expecting more of the same, but was pleasantly surprised that the World of Asphalt was definitely worth the trip and time.
Another colleague told me that this was by far the most positive show this year. He commented that everyone was “upbeat” anticipating a positive reaction from the Stimulus Package. “The show attendees expect to see things start happening towards the end of the second quarter,” he said, and then added, “they also think that the third and fourth quarters will be good.”
I had been to four shows earlier this year and have to admit that the tone was less than cheerful. Show floors were empty and brought back memories of a couple shows in the early 90’s when exhibitors spent their time talking to each other, ad sales reps, construction journalists and playing Frisbee. Traditionally, when one show strikes a positive note the ones that follow do as well. There are a couple more coming soon, and then this fall the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) will sponsor the International Construction & Utility Equipment Exposition (ICUEE). If the trend holds, ICUEE could end up being an outstanding show. Its focus is the utility construction market, which is a critical part of our infrastructure.
With final registration numbers of 5,800, including 16 percent international, the co-location meant a big attendance boost for World of Asphalt, which posted strong attendance numbers despite a down economy and travel restrictions by many companies.
“The comments we heard from attendees were very positive, that the trade show floor was where they needed to be to keep in touch with what’s happening in their industry segments,” noted show director Sara Truesdale Mooney.
Attendees came from more than 60 countries besides the United States. Official delegations came from China, India, Mongolia and Russia. Nearly 70 percent of attendees hold key management roles in their companies.
Nearly 400 exhibitors took 85,900 net square feet of exhibit space at the shows to showcase their latest technology and products.
Education was a vital component of the World of Asphalt and AGG1 show experience. Nearly 5,700 tickets were sold to attend the education sessions. Classrooms were packed and several sessions were sell-outs. Expanded education included a new AGG1 Academy and the co-location of the National Traffic Management and Work Zone Safety Conference hosted by the American Transportation and Roadbuilders Association (ARTBA)–TDF.
“These numbers clearly show the value and impact of industry partnerships such as World of Asphalt and AGG1. Attendees recognized the quality and depth of education and exhibits that the co-located shows offered,” stated Richard Moore of Lehman-Roberts and World of Asphalt chairman.
“The aggregates and asphalt industries are integral to each other, so the co-location of AGG1 and World of Asphalt gave attendees access to the whole spectrum of products and services ‘from rock to road,’ as we like to say,” stated Rick Feltes of Lafarge North America and National Stone Sand & Gravel Association’s (NSSGA) AGG1 Management Committee chairman.
Virtually all of the major exhibitors from the last World of Asphalt participated, and almost 30 percent were making a first-time appearance. There was a new exhibit pavilion for pavement maintenance as well as a traffic management/work zone safety pavilion, sponsored for the first time by ARTBA. There were also returning pavilions for information/technology and testing measurement products. And the shows featured an online “new product and technology program” to help attendees quickly find new and innovative products and services on the show floor.
The shows offered comprehensive industry education, with more than 120 sessions to provide attendees with practical, ready-to-use operational and management strategies and techniques. Innovation, safety, technology and sustainability were among the featured topics.
Education programs included:
- AGG1 Academy for aggregates-related learning opportunities in areas including operations, safety, environment, technology, management and community relations.
- People, Plants and Paving Training Program for the latest methods in asphalt paving and production efficiencies.
- Asphalt Pavement Alliance (APA) Asphalt Pavement Conference with a focus on design, construction and sustainability of HMA pavements.
- Nationally recognized traffic management and work zone safety conference hosted by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association-Transportation Development Foundation (ARTBA-TDF).
- Spanish-language supervisory development workshop to help meet the changing needs of the workplace, and another workshop, in English, to help contractors learn Spanish, with a focus on industry terminology.
- Worker-certification program – the OSHA 10-Hour Course for Construction Workers, a safety program developed by the U.S. Department of Labor.
Many of the education sessions offered Continuing Education Credits (CEU) or certificates of attendance to document Professional Development H
More than 20 U.S., Canadian and worldwide allied industry, business and government groups were show supporting organizations and/or contributed their expertise to show education modules.
World of Asphalt and AGG1 are run by the industry, with management committees of representatives from major industry sectors to help ensure the shows meet the needs of both attendees and exhibitors.
World of Asphalt is owned by the National Asphalt Pavement Association along with the Association of Equipment Manufacturers and the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association. AGG1 is owned by the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association. The Association of Equipment Manufacturers is show producer.
You can mark your calendar, February 15-18, 2010, in Cincinnati, Ohio for the next World of Asphalt and AGG1 show. Once we get the economy moving there will be no stopping it, the future is bright ahead.
(Note: The shows’ online exhibitor directory will be available until June 2009 to extend the interaction between buyers and sellers.)