Big Time

March 1, 2023
ConExpo-Con/Agg continues to grow

By Gavin Jenkins, Senior Managing Editor

How much bigger can ConExpo-Con/Agg get?

The event, which is organized by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) and is held every three years, is already the biggest trade show in North America. The 2020 edition was the largest show to date — until now, of course.

ConExpo-Con/Agg runs from March 14-18, 2023, at the Las Vegas Convention Center and Festival Grounds, and it will be 5% larger in square footage than the 2020 show.

AEM announced that all available exhibit space has been sold out. Since the 2020 show, the Las Vegas Convention Center and Festival Grounds has upgraded its facilities. It added a 1.4 million-square-foot West Hall exhibit area and the Diamond Lot, thus allowing ConExpo/Agg to be even bigger this year.

How much bigger can ConExpo-Con/Agg get? As big as the space where it’s held allows. That’s one of the reasons why Las Vegas is a perfect place for this convention.

“I see Las Vegas as a symbol of infrastructural achievement,” said Jeff Lowe, vice president of product marketing for Western Global, which, among other products, makes onsite fuel tanks for the construction industry. “It’s in the middle of the desert, yet there are such impressive buildings on the Vegas strip and major highways running through the city. These demonstrate what companies like those attending ConExpo can achieve. There’s also a natural energy around the Las Vegas area that helps build excitement for the show.”

This is the first ConExpo-Con/Agg since President Biden signed the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) into law. Enthusiasm within the industry hasn’t been this high in a generation. In December, AEM reported that attendee pre-registration for 2023’s show was nearly double what it was for 2020, when ConExpo-Con/Agg closed a day early due to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Lynn Marsh, president of Road Widener, said she’s excited to connect with customers and other industry contacts.

“We especially look forward to the opportunity to get feedback on the products and the industry from a variety of perspectives,” she said.

Networking plays a huge role at any convention, but especially at one as large as ConExpo. When people network, they talk shop about the industry. The IIJA will likely be a popular topic. Keith Armishaw, Aquajet business development manager, is looking forward to discussing equipment while networking. However, he believes conversations will ultimately land on some of the challenges the industry is facing, like integrating electric equipment or the labor shortage.

“Labor shortages are still a significant problem,” he said. “So, I expect that to be a show theme that will also come up at our booth. Contractors will be seeking ways to get projects done with a limited number of workers. If they have a large concrete removal and repair project, such as a road or bridge, we can offer a solution with hydrodemolition equipment.”

Along with talking about topics that impact the industry, Marsh said she also adds a personal touch to her networking.

“I’ve also come to appreciate the importance of relationships and taking the time to visit about family and life outside of business, as well,” she said. “This approach is what allows for a true partnership approach to professional relationships.”

This will be my first ConExpo. I started in this role during the fall 2021, and since my first day, my colleagues have been preparing me for this convention by warning me that it’s bigger than I can imagine.

World of Concrete is probably the biggest show I have been to, and one colleague warned me that ConExpo is at least five times bigger.

I couldn’t agree more with Marsh about meeting people on a personal level. That’s the best way to build working relationships at shows. However, when it comes to walking around the convention center, I’m excited to see technology, and I know I’m not alone.

In last month’s edition of Infrastructure Insider Interviews, I spoke with Randy Fuss, the director of government accounts for Doosan Bobcat and Bobcat Company in North America. He said that companies are currently in an electrical vehicle race to see who can dominate the market. 

“I’m looking forward to ConExpo to see all of the new technology that is being introduced into the industry,” Fuss said. “Whether it’s by us here at Bobcat company or other manufacturers, I think there’s a lot of innovation going on in the industry” worth seeing at ConExpo.

The 2020 ConExpo will be remembered for being cut short because COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, and perhaps this year’s edition of the show will (finally) show that everything is back to normal.

“If recent shows are any indication, this year’s ConExpo will be stronger than ever,” Marsh said.

With a large crowd expected, attendees are likely making a list of all the booths they want to visit, which might be more difficult than it sounds given the convention’s size.

“My advice to attendees would be to have a clear plan in their minds about what problems they’re trying to solve so they can leave with a clear plan for a solution,” Lowe said. “I’d also recommend using resources the show provides like the vender map to target where they want to visit based on the solutions they’re looking for.” 

Venders will head in with their own set of goals, as well.

“We want to get on the radar of people who could benefit from hydrodemolition but don’t realize it’s possible to remove concrete with water,” Armishaw said.

Recent additions to the Las Vegas Convention Center will make it easier to move around, as well. The Convention Center Loop, an underground transportation system designed by Elon Musk’s The Boring Co., runs beneath the entire campus. It is free of charge and transports attendees throughout the convention in under two minutes in Tesla vehicles.

Still, you might want to wear comfortable shoes because of all the walking. And, as you journey from one hall to the next, just think: ConExpo might become even bigger in 2026, when IIJA funding has hit each state and road and bridge projects are rolling along. R&B

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