Shifting ConExpo-Con/Agg 2020 show strategies

By |  November 4, 2019

Expect show traffic at ConExpo-Con/Agg 2020 to at least mirror the 2017 edition, but don’t be surprised if next year’s attendance tops the last show. Photo courtesy of ConExpo-Con/Agg

The next wave of equipment and technology arrives four months from now at ConExpo-Con/Agg 2020, where aggregate producers will shop for solutions to make their operations more efficient, safer and ultimately slide more money into their pocket.

The once-every-three-years trade show remains a destination for aggregate producers on the prowl for equipment upgrades. But in today’s just-in-time-world of internet browsing and click-to-order purchasing, might the nature of a trade show like ConExpo-Con/Agg be changing?

“Trade shows are going through a revolution,” says Greg Helfrich, the national operations manager at Elrus Aggregate Systems. “There’s an awful lot of people who introduce products at the trade show. We introduce them at the ready.”

The aggregate industry’s equipment introductions, of course, aren’t an exclusive right of ConExpo-Con/Agg. OEMs continuously debut new equipment in between shows, and AGG1 Aggregates Academy & Expo, a show introduced 10 years ago, is a gathering place for the latest wares in non-ConExpo-Con/Agg years.

Still, Helfrich has a point. Producers in dire need of a crusher today are unlikely to put a purchase on hold for months or, potentially, years until the next ConExpo-Con/Agg arrives. Why should producers wait when they can easily pull out their smartphone, open an internet browser and begin their equipment search at any moment?

New buying habits

These days, more producers do research online long before boarding their Las Vegas-bound flight to ConExpo-Con/Agg. Many of these producers then take a next step by making phone calls to vendors whom they believe might offer them a solution.

The exhibits of mobile equipment OEMs such as Case Construction Equipment and John Deere will surely be draws, as 53 percent of producers tell P&Q they intend to explore excavators and loaders at ConExpo-Con/Agg 2020. Photo courtesy of ConExpo-Con/Agg

The exhibits of mobile equipment OEMs such as Case Construction Equipment and John Deere will surely be draws, as 53 percent of producers tell P&Q they intend to explore excavators and loaders at ConExpo-Con/Agg 2020. Photo courtesy of ConExpo-Con/Agg

A decade ago, ConExpo-Con/Agg might have been the very first step in equipment exploration for a number of producers. Now, producers often visit vendors at a trade show booth long after they’ve pored over equipment details on an OEM’s website.

“When a customer came to our booth 10 years ago about the Hydro-Clean, they would say ‘what is that,’” says Kristen Randall, marketing manager at Haver & Boecker Niagara, referring to a washing system that’s been exhibited at the company’s booth at ConExpo-Con/Agg. “Now, they already know about your equipment. They have a project in mind and a rough idea of how they want to use that equipment.”

While Helfrich agrees the equipment purchasing process has changed, he recognizes ConExpo-Con/Agg serves as a milestone of sorts for a number of producers.

Still, the magnitude of that milestone is changing with the times, he argues.
“Twenty years ago when a buyer had a problem, you got a phone call,” Helfrich says. “Now, you get a phone call after they’ve been on the internet. You only get the phone call if you’re one or two or three people who they think can solve the problem.”

Considering the new nature of purchasing, Helfrich expects ConExpo-Con/Agg’s offerings may morph sometime in the near future.

“I just see there’s way more opportunity in the off-years,” he says.

Plenty of buzz

Until then, ConExpo-Con/Agg continues to generate more excitement among producers, manufacturers and other industry stakeholders than any other show in North America. In fact, some OEMs note that ConExpo-Con/Agg regularly provides a significant spike in sales that is not experienced during the show’s off years.

“ConExpo almost always gives a pretty good lift to the industry,” says Dave Stewart, director of marketing at Screen Machine. “Hopefully, it will counteract the typical result of an election year, the two will balance each other out and we’ll see the business on a steady rise.”

Josh Swank, vice president of sales and marketing at Philippi-Hagenbuch, also has high expectations of ConExpo-Con/Agg. But Swank holds 2020 in high regard, as well.

“I’m expecting 2020 to be a very solid year,” Swank says. “People are in the mood to grow their businesses and reinvest in their businesses. They are not in the mood to retract, save and protect.”

Like Swank, Randall has an optimistic outlook on the upcoming show.

‘We’re feeling pretty positive about it,” she says. “As manufacturers, we’re not holding back on our ConExpo investment. We’re bringing our biggest piece of equipment to the show, so we’re excited about that.”

Matthew Armstrong, business development analyst at Major, is looking forward to seeing the ConExpo-Con/Agg crowd. His company will exhibit alongside Haver & Boecker Niagara, and he hopes the enthusiasm from AGG1 2019 carries over to Las Vegas.

“I was very pleased being down at AGG1 this year,” Armstrong says. “There were a lot of plant-level decision-makers and maintenance guys. For a parts supplier, there were a lot of the right people at AGG1. It will be interesting to see if we get that again at ConExpo.”

Another show enthusiast

Troy Geisler, vice president of sales and marketing at Talbert Manufacturing, always enjoys ConExpo-Con/Agg because it presents a “crash course” of suppliers, affiliates and end users coming together.

“That period is wonderful because you get to meet with your past customers and also prospective customers,” Geisler says.

Geisler once again expects ConExpo-Con/Agg to bring massive crowds. He also expects new business to ultimately emerge from the show for his company.

“Our cycle times from when we get the initial inquiry to when the customer pulls the trigger with the purchase is more lengthy because they’re trying to get information – maybe some late-distribution studies – and a lot of times there’s a lot more that factors into their decision,” Geisler says. “But ConExpo-Con/Agg is going to be well-attended year after year, and it’s going to be great to see what 2020 brings.”

Tech Talks

ConExpo-Con/Agg 2020 will offer a lineup of presentations focusing on modern mobility, sustainability and smart cities. Included in the presentations are:

  • “Driving Decisions with AI,” presented by Bassem Hamdy, co-founder and CEO of Briq
  • “The Design and Print of Future Structures,” presented by Platt Boyd, founder and CEO of Branch Technologies
  • “Rebuilding Better for Resiliency,” presented by Desiree Matel-Anderson, CEO of Global Disaster Innovation Group
  • “The Ray – Creating the Highway of the Future,” presented by Allie Kelly, executive director of The Ray Project

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