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Looking ahead to MINExpo 2021

By |  August 12, 2021
MINExpo International 2021 returns Sept. 13-15 to the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas. Photo: National Mining Association

MINExpo International returns Sept. 13-15 to the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas. Photo: National Mining Association

MINExpo International is nearly here – finally – after the pandemic forced the postponement of last year’s scheduled trade show.

This latest edition is slated for Sept. 13-15 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, marking the first MINExpo in five years. The 2021 version will undoubtedly look and feel somewhat different, as some aggregate producers and other traditional attendees may elect not to participate. Producer companies may also decide to send fewer people for reasons tied to the pandemic.

Still, the producers who typically attend trade shows like MINExpo and the equipment manufacturers who exhibit largely agree shows will go on, as they offer unique value that can’t be captured elsewhere.

“I think the trade shows are an excellent venue – no question about it,” says EJ Burke, general manager of national accounts at Quick Supply Co. “But it’s going to be key to understand what producers are willing to invest. In years past, a lot of folks have attended sort of as a bonus. You got to go out, participate and have a little fun at the same time. But I think those days are over.”

Phil Berry, president of North American Mining, agrees producers are likely to take fewer people to MINExpo and other trade shows going forward. North American Mining, for one, will take fewer people this year.

“Historically, we’ll take 150 employees to MINExpo,” Berry says. “We’re probably going to take 30 [or] 40 this year. I don’t know exactly what the number’s going to be, but it’s going to be a little bit different.”

Despite a reduced number, Berry suspects the North American Mining employees who attend MINExpo will find the experience worthwhile.

“We do think it’s worth participating in,” Berry says. “We do support it. I do think the context of the conversations and the access to all the great suppliers and what they have to offer does provide a really great benefit to us, and we look forward to it.”

Jonathan Hart, vice president of Washington Rock Quarries, says his company will approach trade shows similarly in the years to come.

“We look at trade shows as something we still plan on attending, but it comes down to how many people are we going to send and what kind of value-added items are we going to get in addition to the networking experience,” Hart says. “We still feel that going to a trade show is about the experience. It’s about the face-to-face meeting. We still think trade shows are a part of the future. They’re not going to be as big as they used to be, but they’re still something we feel can benefit us.”

Manufacturer perspectives

Trade shows MINExpo

MINExpo 2021 will encompass the North, Central and South Halls at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Photo: National Mining Association

Still, if fewer producers will be attending trade shows, then manufacturers will have to adjust accordingly.

“We’re absolutely going to continue on with trade shows,” says John Garrison, vice president of sales at Superior Industries. “A big part of what we do is networking. But we probably will scale back the size of the booth, focus more on bringing the latest technology and not getting a football field-sized booth.”

According to Burke, the industry’s producers will ultimately be the ones who determine what becomes of trade shows.

“We have to keep our eye on the producer because we want to understand exactly what their needs are,” he says. “And you’ll find out very quickly.”

Burke will not be surprised if a flurry of producers attends MINExpo because so many lost out on ConExpo-Con/Agg in 2020. He is eager to see how the show turns out.

“It’s going to be very interesting,” Burke says, “but it’s going to be producer driven – and that’s what I suggest we keep our eye on.”

In time, Alex Kanaris of VDG (Van der Graaf) expects trade shows will reclaim their regular place with producers. VDG, at least, plans to proceed with its support of trade shows.

“I think this is going to blow over in a couple of years and people are going to go back to what they used to do and what feels better to do,” says Kanaris, who serves VDG as president. “There’s no substitute.”

Drawing a comparison, Kanaris says the video conferences that served as quasi-replacements to trade shows during the pandemic will remain. Video conferences won’t, however, fully replace trade shows.

“There’s not going to be a transition from a trade show to Zoom meetings,” Kanaris says. “They’re another tool for us to have – for instance, if you meet someone at the trade show, then have a Zoom meeting a week later. That’s how we feel like it’s going to go.”

John Deere’s Amy Asselin agrees trade shows and video conferences – plus virtual events – offer value. But there’s an appropriate place for each in the business world.

“The ability to connect in person with a large number of people is invaluable,” says Asselin, who serves John Deere as manager of quarry and agg, plus ag material handling production systems. “I think what we’ve seen with virtual [events] is we can definitely maintain, sustain and have great work through that environment. But what we see is when you have large [virtual] events you don’t get that same level of two-way engagement and dialogue like you do in person.”

Kevin Yanik

About the Author:

Kevin Yanik is the editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry magazine. Yanik can be reached at 216-706-3724 or kyanik@northcoastmedia.net.

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