Reshaping ConExpo-Con/Agg 2020

By |  September 30, 2019
Headshot: Mary Erholtz, Superior Industries

Erholtz

Mary Erholtz, the vice president of marketing at Superior Industries, serves as the chair of ConExpo-Con/Agg 2020. P&Q recently caught up with Erholtz for a look at the March 10-14 trade show. She details changes attendees can expect, as well as what’s in store for ConExpo-Con/Agg in 2023 and beyond.

What number ConExpo-Con/Agg will this be for you?

My first show was in 1999 as an attendee. This will be my seventh show as an exhibitor, so eight total.

Tell us how you became ConExpo-Con/Agg 2020 chair.

I was on the management committee for the 2017 show, and they asked me to be the chair of the management committee for the 2020 show. I was happy to do it.

Dana Wuesthoff, Megan Tanel and the team at AEM (Association of Equipment Manufacturers) are very easy to work with. They’re the ones behind the scenes doing the hard work, utilizing the management committee to make sure the voices of exhibitors and attendees are heard.

Being a part of eight ConExpo-Con/Aggs means you have extensive experience with the show. But have you learned anything new about ConExpo-Con/Agg through your role as show chair?

I’ve learned there’s so much more to the logistics and planning that goes on behind the scenes, from the food vendors to all of the capabilities that an exhibitor requires.

GES is the services company in the Las Vegas Convention Center that provides some of those services, but there’s a lot of work AEM does to develop relationships so an exhibitor’s experience is smooth. You can overlook how much effort is being put in.

What are the next major steps in planning for the 2020 show?

Exhibits will again be set up both indoors and outdoors at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Photo courtesy of ConExpo-Con/Agg

Exhibits will again be set up both indoors and outdoors at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Photo courtesy of ConExpo-Con/Agg

All of the big decisions have already been made for the 2020 show, and the team at AEM is in full force executing those decisions. The 2023 show and beyond is the major focus now.

For 2020, it’s now a matter of the show playing out and determining if the strategy is working. One big thing is tracking all of the exhibit space and sales. It is strong. It’s ahead of 2017 at this point.

For 2020, the new Festival Grounds presents the greatest change in show layout from 2017. What can exhibitors and attendees expect of this new off-site space?

The show had to add that space to accommodate more exhibit space outdoors. The exhibitors originally in the Gold Lot have participated in Festival Grounds meetings to work through any discomfort or anxiety they might have moving over there.

In the coming years, a loop system is expected to provide fast and convenient transportation around the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC). The image here is an artist’s conceptual drawing of the entrance to the LVCC Loop outside an exhibition hall. Photo courtesy of The Boring Company

In the coming years, a loop system is expected to provide fast and convenient transportation around the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC). The image here is an artist’s conceptual drawing of the entrance to the LVCC Loop outside an exhibition hall. Photo courtesy of The Boring Company

I really don’t hear any negativity in the discussions I’ve had with folks. Everybody is on board. Everybody understands this is how it’s going to be, and that we’re working together to do our best as far as moving people from the main convention hall to the Festival Grounds. We’re going to do our best to make that happen.

Communication early and often helped reduce any frustrations or anxiety that folks would have. In addition, the management committee is working hard to make sure people know how to get themselves transferred back and forth.

How would you advise attendees to approach reaching the exhibits in the Festival Grounds?

I’ve been telling people you have to plan your days better. You won’t want to be making meetings in the Festival Grounds and the Central Hall on the same half of the day.

The Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority will ultimately determine the final configuration of the Las Vegas Convention Center Loop, which currently has three design options. Photo courtesy of The Boring Company

The Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority will ultimately determine the final configuration of the Las Vegas Convention Center Loop, which currently has three design options. Photo courtesy of The Boring Company

There will be shuttle services that give people service back and forth. Also, those planning to take their employees to the Festival Grounds to see exhibitors need to make sure they use the ConExpo-Con/Agg app. This will help give you a walking path to make the best use of your time and help you navigate the show efficiently. You can put in preferences of the exhibitors you want to see, and it will help guide you around the show floor.

ConExpo-Con/Agg is the place to be for the latest innovation in equipment and technology. Do you have a feel at this stage for how much new equipment will debut at the show for the aggregate industry?

It’s about the same as usual. There are always new products and launches that go on. I would expect the same of our competition. Like us (Superior Industries), you always want to bring something to the show. It makes for the most efficient use of your time and also brings people to your booth, giving you something to talk about on the show floor.

There’s a lot going on in the industry, and mergers and acquisitions are taking place. There’s going to be a lot to see. There are dynamics that have shifted.

We’ve heard an argument lately that end users expect vendors to release their latest equipment when it’s ready, versus wait for a once-every-three-years trade show. Is there a case to be made for a trade show like ConExpo-Con/Agg to change?

I think it is more of a generational demand for trade shows to change.

ConExpo-Con/Agg attendees will again have opportunities to get a glimpse of the industry’s future at the Tech Experience. Photo courtesy of ConExpo-Con/Agg

ConExpo-Con/Agg attendees will again have opportunities to get a glimpse of the industry’s future at the Tech Experience. Photo courtesy of ConExpo-Con/Agg

At Superior, we don’t wait for a trade show to figure out what’s new and exciting. I think you’re always looking, but the physical aspect of having a product to kick the tires on is something I think people will always want in our industry. Being able to network, look someone in the eye and have a conversation are important, too.

I do think we need to supplement the trade show with better ways to compare equipment, as well as see and shop very quickly all of what is available.

ConExpo-Con/Agg recognizes that future generations don’t want to spend the time to go around and have all of these conversations with people. To extend the trade show between show cycles, ConExpo-Con/Agg launched ConExpo Connect, which launched not that long ago. ConExpo Connect is for you to look at equipment in the construction industry – no matter the brand – and quickly research what’s available.

The goal ultimately is to be able to have a one-stop location where you can compare all of the equipment available in the market side by side.

You mentioned ConExpo-Con/Agg 2023 earlier. What sorts of changes might be on deck for the show four years from now?

ConExpo-Con/Agg returns March 10-14 in Las Vegas. Photo courtesy of ConExpo-Con/Agg

ConExpo-Con/Agg returns March 10-14 in Las Vegas. Photo courtesy of ConExpo-Con/Agg

If you’ve been around the Las Vegas Convention Center lately, you would see all of the new construction there. They’re building a new indoor exhibit area. For lack of a better term, there is a “West Hall” that is over top of the former Gold Lot. It’s some really nice indoor exhibit space.

In 2023, the Festival Grounds will probably be a new norm because we need that space for products that need to be outside.

The other thing is the [Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority] has contracted out and hired the Boring Company, an Elon Musk company, to create a people-moving system. It will be an underground tram of sorts, moving people around the convention facility. It will help people get from the South Hall to the new “West Hall.”

Any final thoughts about the 2020 show?

Once again, it will be a great place for people to see what’s in the market. And there will again be a couple of tech areas for people to see advancements in the future.


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