Thursday, March 19, 2009

Against all odds

In setting up the Pit & Quarry booth at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando last week, I wasn't sure what to expect in the way of turnout for the AGG1 show that would begin the next day. It was the debut of the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association's AGG1 Aggregates Forum & Expo. The new show is an "all-in-one" event for the association, combining its annual convention and many of its yearly offerings into one setting.

And it was coming at a bad time.

Reports of attendance at other industry trade shows this year -- such as World of Concrete -- have been bleak, and there was little reason to believe AGG1 would fare any better. One very active member of NSSGA told me if this year's new show didn't fly, there would be little hope of holding the event next year ... in Ohio ... in February.

NSSGA had assured the media that advanced show registration was high, but I took that with a grain of salt given the swift downturn of the economy. While a successful show was in everyone's interest, I was skeptical -- and I wasn't the only one.

Tuesday morning arrived, and we walked through the front doors of the convention center to discover a throng of people gathering to take the escalators down into the exhibit hall. My coworkers and I looked at each other, knowing this was a good sign. And when we entered the show floor, the aisles and booths were filled with people.

Nearly every exhibitor we spoke with was surprised and pleased by the turnout. And some equipment manufacturers have already committed to 2010 with even larger booth space. Attendees were pleased, too. There was a lot of equipment to see and a wealth of educational seminars to attend.

The success of AGG1 2009, against all odds, has set up NSSGA for a successful 2010 event next February. See you in Cincinnati. -- Darren Constantino

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