Utility Expo Set to Kickoff

Sept. 21, 2023
The expanded event will feature more attractions

By Harlee Hewitt, Associate Editor

The Utility Expo is returning to Louisville starting September 26, and this year’s convention will be the most expansive yet.

The expo will feature its classic focuses on equipment, services and materials needed in utility industries, while also featuring some new attractions.

“Based on what our exhibitors are telling us, attendees can expect to see a lot of new product rollouts, and a lot of focus on compact equipment, which has been very popular amongst utility contractors,” said show Director John Rozum. “I think we're going to see a continued focus on alternative power equipment too, as a number of companies are planning on showing new products in that line. That line went from a unique thing at the last show two years ago to something that's going to be seen in just about every booth this year.”

This year marks the 36th year of the expo since it found its home in Louisville, Kentucky. Prior to that, the show’s origins stem from 1964, or 1965 depending on who you ask, according to Rozum.

“It started in a in a hayfield in the suburbs of Chicago, when one of the local utilities asked manufacturers to bring equipment out so that they could view it. From those humble beginnings, it bounced around a bit and finally found its home in Louisville in 1987,” he said.

In 2021, the biennial convention brought more than 16,500 attendees to the Kentucky Exposition Center. This year, more than 850 exhibitors will be spread out amongst the more than 1.4 million square feet of indoor and outdoor event space.

This year’s expanded indoor show floor will feature some exciting new additions, according to Rozum.

“We've got about 200 new companies that are making their first-time appearance at the show in addition to all the standards and industry leading brands you'd expect,” he said. “The show floor itself has expanded. In 2021 in the indoor area, we still were under some COVID protocols which caused oversized aisles and spaces in the building. We added all that back in this year, so there's a lot more to see indoors.”

To accommodate its large size, the show has historically extended to the outdoor spaces surrounding the Kentucky Exposition Center. Rozum said these spaces have also seen growth this year.

“Outdoors, we've also expanded the figure by 6-7% overall. As an example, the E lot behind the building is wider than it was last show. So, it really encompasses the entire back of the exhibition hall,” he said.

The Utility Expo will also debut its collaboration on a “Safety Symposium” with the American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA), which will be held Tuesday and Wednesday. Attendees will have a selection of 10 sessions to attend surrounding work zone and traffic safety, as well as the opportunity to earn two different certifications.

“The education programs ATSSA will present at The Utility Expo can help participants expand their knowledge about traffic safety while on the job,” said Rozum. “This is a great opportunity for contractors to bring their crew to hear about emerging safety technologies or to become a traffic control technician and earning an ATSSA Flagger Certification, while also checking out the latest equipment on the show floor.”

Continuing education and professional development hours are important parts of the utility industry, and learning about new technologies and equipment is a focus for The Utility Expo.

“The industry comes together at The Utility Expo to see and experience the latest overhead and underground infrastructure equipment at work,” said Rozum. “Our education offerings at the show range from peer-to-peer demos to professional instruction. Whether you prefer to learn in the classroom or in the driver’s seat, The Utility Expo has you covered.”

This year’s Expo will offer over 50 education sessions, some of which allow participants to earn professional development hours.

Thirteen of those sessions will take place in field classrooms located in the North Wing and will include sessions such as the “Safety Tech Trek,” which will tour new innovations in the utility and construction industry that will make safety more manageable on the jobsite. “Advanced Horizontal Directional Drilling: Challenges and Good Practices for a Successful Installation” will provide insight into locating technologies and mapping tools to improve installation.

Although there are not any focused educational events on the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) at the Utility Expo, Rozum says the law remains a salient thread throughout the show.

“In the utility industry specifically there's a ton of funding that's going into a lot of different projects here. The projects are getting the green light, which means more projects, more jobs, and more equipment,” he said. “We expect there to be a lot of folks, on the contractor and utility side, looking for that new equipment that's going to get these jobs done. We're happy to be the right place at the right time this year to help fill that need.”

Don’t forget to study the layout of the exhibits before arriving at the convention. Throughout the North and South Wings, you’ll find exhibits providing equipment test drives and interactive product demonstrations.

Outside in Lot K, “The Jobsite” also returns to host hourly, free peer-to-peer demonstrations of Predictive Analytics Software, Electromagnetic (EM) locating, Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR), Subsurface Utility Engineering (SUE), Underground RFID Marking Devices, and GIS Mobile Applications.

When you find yourself needing a break, make it over to the Community Zone in the North Hall Lobby for a place to reset and recharge.

Rozum said he can’t wait for the Utility Expo to start.

“We’re very excited to get there. Move in has started already looks fantastic out on the grounds, the place is absolutely buzzing,” he said. “I love the Expo for a number of reasons. The show is massive, but everybody who's in the industry is there and it feels more like a family reunion. People have time to talk to each other. Attendees have time to talk to exhibitors without feeling like they're being rushed. The overall feeling of the show is unique, so its one of my favorites for that reason.”

Roads and Bridges will be at the Expo in booth S3413. Please make sure to stop by and say hello!

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