The mood was overwhelmingly positive at the ConExpo-Con/Agg 2011 exposition held March 22-26 in Las Vegas. Despite continued uncertainty in U.S. construction markets and the overall economy, industry professionals expressed hopeful optimism for a sustained U.S. upturn in the coming months, while global sales continue to be strong.
ConExpo-Con/Agg 2011 and IFPE 2011 attracted nearly 120,000 registered attendees; the shows were the global industry gathering place for the year and the largest gathering in North America since 2008 for the construction, construction materials and fluid power/power transmission/motion control industries. Both shows were held at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Attendees said they were at the shows to examine the newest equipment and product technologies and innovations to help them prepare for future business; exhibitors cited the high quality of customers and reported strong purchases and sales leads to new as well as existing customers.
"The construction industry has been through some very tough times, with record unemployment, since the last ConExpo-Con/Agg 2011 in March 2008. With these positive numbers and the industry support of the shows, we’re optimistic about the future and looking forward to seeing these new sales orders fulfilled," said Megan Tanel, AEM vice president of exhibitions and events.
"There was such a tremendous upbeat feeling at the shows; it was really great to see our industry looking ahead with some enthusiasm after the recession," said Mike Haberman, chairman of the ConExpo-Con/Agg 2011 management committee and president of Gradall Industries.
A record number of more than 860 co-located events, educational programs and pre-planned meetings were held with the shows, plus dozens more meetings scheduled onsite. Co-locations included ICON Expo for the concrete products industry and several annual conferences of national industry associations.
Manufacturers used the event for numerous product introductions, perhaps none garnering more attention than Caterpillar’s introduction of its first vocational truck. To be sold and serviced by North American Cat dealers, the CT660 will be offered in a variety of configurations.
Other manufacturers, including Michelin Earthmover, Cummins, Bridgestone-Firestone and Sanvik introduced new products to the North American market.
Quality Attendance, International Scope
International registrations accounted for a record 24 percent of the total, representing more than 150 countries. ConExpo-Con/Agg 2011 and IFPE 2011 were among a select group invited to participate in the U.S. Department of Commerce International Buyer Program, which facilitates the participation of international visitors. The shows hosted 42 official international customer delegations from 37 countries, organized by the U.S. Department of Commerce as well as in-country associations and related groups.
The majority of show attendees were key company decision-makers, including 44 percent with the top titles of president/owner and vice president/general manager/chief financial officer.
"The increased global participation by attendees and exhibitors underscores the importance of world markets to our industry. The U.S. economy is slowly improving and we have a ways to go, especially in construction, but after 18 to 24 months there is more pent-up demand for equipment to be ready for the upturn," Tanel stated.
On the Show Floor
Altogether on the show floor there were more than 2,400 exhibitors taking more than 2.34 million net sq. ft. of exhibit space, making ConExpo-Con/Agg 2011 the second largest in the show’s history.
Industry-focused education was an important component of the show experience, and there were a record number of education, training and certification programs offered.
The ConExpo-Con/Agg 2011 education program featured a record 126 sessions across nine tracks, with sessions emphasizing industry issues and trends, management and applied technology. Numerous industry training and certification programs were also held. New for 2011 were a Crane and Rigging Conference and the Green Roads Summit.
At IFPE 2011, the 52nd National Conference on Fluid Power featured a record 114 presentations, and the Innovations Theater offered 14 sessions developed from abstract submissions for the conference. New for 2011 were national conference keynote presentations from leading industry and university researchers, and sessions from the Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power. IFPE also offered new college-level courses.
More than 80 allied associations and groups were official show supporting organizations, coming from the U.S., Canada and more than a dozen countries worldwide. They promoted the shows’ value and brought qualified buyer groups to the events, and many helped develop direction and content of the shows’ education programs to ensure they met industry needs.
Safety, Training, Workforce Initiatives
A Lift Safety Zone focused on cranes and other aerial lift equipment and ensuring adequate ground support for the machine and load carried. In conjunction with the Crane and Rigging Conference, a Crane Rodeo promoted education and safety at the same time as providing a hands-on operational experience. These and the many certification and training programs held at the shows helped ensure a properly trained workforce of equipment operators and other jobsite personnel.
The International Mixer Driver Championship by NRMCA recognized driver skills and inspection expertise. The AEM teen-focused Construction Challenge competition presented by Volvo Construction Equipment generated interest in construction careers. The I Make America national grassroots campaign had a substantial presence to promote job-creation policies for manufacturing and construction that improve the economy and keep the U.S. globally competitive.
The shows welcomed visits from U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood as well as U.S. Department of Commerce Assistant Secretary Suresh Kumar and numerous other government officials.