I just got back from CONEXPO. This is the trade show for the construction and its related industries. One of Turf’s sister publications has attended several times, but this was my first opportunity to attend this trade show, and I have to tell you that it was not just big—it was frighteningly big. I’ve been attending trade shows for most of my adult life, and I’ve never felt intimidated by a trade show before. This one left me in a state of awe and exhaustion and with a positive outlook for the economy in general, and this industry in particular.
I’m sorry, but there is no way you could walk around that show and still maintain that the United States is heading for some kind of economic crisis. The trade show organizers reported a 21 percent growth over the last CONEXPO, making it the biggest show in North America this year, and we’re talking big. There were over 2,100 exhibitors taking up every inch of the 2.28 million square feet of exhibit space. The last attendance figures I saw put it at over 140,000. That’s just attendees. If you add in all of the people there to work those exhibits, the convention center itself was the fifth largest city in Nevada for that week, adding over 25 percent to the population of Las Vegas.
If you don’t believe me, take a look at this:
So, all those attendees spent all that money just to get to the convention—easily over a million dollars. All of those companies spent all of that money to rent the space, transport the equipment and staff the exhibits with employees: How much could that be? (Caterpillar alone reported they had over 350 employees at the show.) Surely, we’re talking hundreds of millions of dollars. How many millions of dollars of sales between exhibitors and attendees were made is anyone’s guess.
And yet, every night, my TV tells me I need to prepare for the coming recession. That’s not what I saw in Las Vegas.