The mood was overwhelmingly positive at the CONEXPO-CON/AGG and IFPE 2011 expositions held last week, March 22 through 26, in Las Vegas. Despite continued uncertainty in U.S. construction markets and the overall economy, industry professionals expressed hopeful optimism for a sustained U.S. upturn in the coming months, while global sales continue to be strong.
CONEXPO-CON/AGG and IFPE 2011 attracted nearly 120,000 registered attendees; the shows were the global industry gathering place for the year and the largest gathering in North America since 2008 for the construction, construction materials and fluid power/power transmission/motion control industries. The shows were held at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Visitor numbers were actually down 12% from the last Conexpo in 2008, but the proportion of international visitors rose to 24%, up from 19% in 2008.
The 21% decline in domestic U.S. visitors from 116,000 to 91,000 reflects continuing difficult market conditions in the U.S. construction industry. In general, manufacturers all reported an upturn in sales driven by demand in Asia, India and Latin America.
Attendees said they were at the shows to examine the newest equipment and product technologies and innovations to help them prepare for future business. Exhibitors cited the high quality of customers and reported strong purchases and sales leads to new as well as existing customers.
"The construction industry has been through some very tough times, with record unemployment, since the last CONEXPO-CON/AGG and IFPE in March 2008. With these positive numbers and the industry support of the shows, we’re optimistic about the future and looking forward to seeing these new sales orders fulfilled," stated Megan Tanel, AEM vice president of exhibitions and events.
"There was such a tremendous upbeat feeling at the shows; it was really great to see our industry looking ahead with some enthusiasm after the recession," stated Mike Haberman, chairman of the CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2011 management committee and president of Gradall Industries.
A record number of more than 860 co-located events, educational programs and pre-planned meetings were held with the shows, plus dozens more meetings scheduled onsite. Co-locations included ICON Expo for the concrete products industry and several annual conferences of national industry associations.
Quality Attendance, International Scope
International registrations accounted for a record 24% of the total, representing more than 150 countries. CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2011 and IFPE 2011 were among a select group invited to participate in the U.S. Department of Commerce International Buyer Program, which facilitates the participation of international visitors. The shows hosted 42 official international customer delegations from 37 countries. Delegations are organized by the U.S. Department of Commerce and in-country associations and groups.
Registration data suggests the majority of show attendees were key company decision-makers, including 44% with the top titles of president/owner and vice president/general manager/chief financial officer.
"The increased global participation by attendees and exhibitors underscores the importance of world markets to our industry. The U.S. economy is slowly improving and we have a ways to go, especially in construction, but after 18 to 24 months there is more pent-up demand for equipment to be ready for the upturn," Tanel stated.