Flashback to AGG1 2009

By |  February 6, 2019
The Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, hosted the very first AGG1 back in March 2009. Photo: iStock.COM/uanmonino

The Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, hosted the very first AGG1 back in March 2009. Photo: iStock.COM/uanmonino

The stock market had just crashed, the economy was dreadful and people were more concerned with surviving than seeing an inaugural aggregate industry trade show get off the ground.

The embers of 2008 and 2009 still burn in the minds of those who worked in the aggregate industry at that time. Producers were coming off some of their best years toward the end of the 2000s, but the Great Recession undoubtedly put them and their vendors through some of the most trying times of their careers. Back then, no industry was hit harder than construction.

Yet, in the middle of all this turmoil was AGG1, set to have its first go-around in March 2009.

“Most of us had never lived through a downturn so severe,” says Rob Fulop, the publisher of Pit & Quarry who attended the very first AGG1 as a representative of the magazine. “Most of us were very nervous, and the timing for a new show couldn’t have been worse.”

A number of manufacturers weren’t convinced the industry needed an event like AGG1. Some weren’t sure they wanted to support it.

The show went on anyway.

“The prevailing thought in our industry was that a show every year was too much, that equipment didn’t change often enough and it’s difficult and expensive to transport,” Fulop says. “I think some manufacturers exhibited out of loyalty to the NSSGA (National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association) while others may have turned out in fear that their competitors might gain an advantage.”

Controversy from the start

Still, NSSGA had reasons to go ahead with AGG1. NSSGA hosted a number of educational events throughout the calendar year in the early 2000s. Attending more than a dozen industry events in a year was a daunting task for producers. It was a source of tremendous stress for some, and the association incurred high costs because of the events.

Around 2004, conversations started to pick up about consolidating the association’s many events into one forum.

“The economy was soft in those years, and offering so many meetings wasn’t profitable,” says Joy Pinniger, former NSSGA president and CEO, during a 2016 interview with P&Q. “The increasing feedback from all sizes of aggregates companies was, ‘can’t you bring all this together somehow for us?’”

The question sparked additional conversation in NSSGA circles, but the association’s members and its board were divided on the topic for at least a few years.

“It wasn’t an easy process,” says Michael Stanczak, a former vice president and general manager at Lehigh Hanson who was involved in AGG1 development decisions. “It took almost three years to get everyone comfortable with the idea of the show and another year or two to develop the format and materials.”

The winning arguments

Cincinnati on a sunny summer day is one thing. But there was nothing picturesque about the southwest Ohio city back in February 2010, when AGG1 attendees found themselves combating a half-foot of snow. iStock.COM/Davel5957

Cincinnati on a sunny summer day is one thing. But there was nothing picturesque about the southwest Ohio city back in February 2010, when AGG1 attendees found themselves combating a half-foot of snow. iStock.COM/Davel5957

AGG1 Aggregates Forum & Expo, as the show was originally called, was ultimately developed to provide education, networking and exhibits all under one roof. According to Pinniger, AGG1’s proponents felt that a single, larger event would allow more employees the opportunity to learn more.

AGG1 created a “single umbrella” for multiple events, ranging from courses designed for operators to courses for specialists in safety, environment and management. The show also originally co-located with World of Asphalt, and the National Asphalt Pavement Association’s “People Plants & Paving” training program was incorporated with the inaugural events, as well.

In addition, NSSGA coincided its annual convention with AGG1 to provide added convenience for its members.

“Holding these two events simultaneously created efficiencies for attendees at both events, brought senior managers to the exhibit floor and created a super-networking environment for all attendees,” says Pinniger, during a 2009 interview.

Years one and two

The inaugural 2009 show took place March 9-12 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida.

“What I remember is its surprising success,” says George Sidney, the recently retired president and COO of McLanahan Corp. “We were admittedly dubious of ‘another’ show. But we followed the producers as we always do, and we were pleasantly surprised at the attendance and interest from those attending.”

As if the struggling economy didn’t provide enough drama for AGG1 in year one, year two in Cincinnati brought yet another reason to worry in the form of a snowstorm. The 2010 show was held Feb. 15-18 show at the Duke Energy Convention Center.

“The idea of a show in a northern city like Cincinnati in February was questioned by many, but the show had already been locked in,” Fulop says. “Everyone’s greatest fears were realized when there was a fluke snowstorm. I think it was 6 to 8 in. and the city was not prepared, having a limited number of snowplows.”

Fortunately, the snow turned out to be a blessing in disguise for some exhibitors.

“It turned out to be a pretty good show,” Fulop says. “The prevailing thought was that even though it was lightly attended, ‘real’ buyers had attended and the snow had discouraged many of the tire kickers.”

The legacy

Despite some turbulence at the start, AGG1 grew in both attendance and square footage in the years that followed. From its first years, AGG1 has shifted to cities like Charlotte, Baltimore and Houston. Nashville is in the plans for a second go-around in the coming years while Indianapolis gets its shot this year.

“The show has definitely come a long way, as evidenced by the number of exhibitors who are now displaying equipment as opposed to tabletops,” Fulop says. “The economy has, too. Let’s hope this upswing continues for both.”


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