Photo collage: CONEXPO 2020 Still Wowed the Construction Industry Despite COVID-19 and Rain

Compact Equipment covered CONEXPO-CON/AGG from the ground last week. Would you expect any less? It was a great show in part because of the extremely cool machines and technologies released and because of the way show organizers AEM navigated concerns about COVID-19 as the situation broke across America. It also rained — in the desert.

The Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) said total registrations for the show was over 130,000, but the attendance felt lighter, which everyone expected. According to almost every manufacturer I talked to (20 +), booth traffic was lower, but quality was much higher. While many booth crews were slimmed down, almost all of the exhibitors showed up despite a few big last second dropouts like Volvo Construction Equipment and Miller Electric. For some reference: There was a record 2.7 million + net square feet of exhibits featuring 2,300+ exhibitors from multinational giants to small firms with specialized products.

There, of course, was a metric tonne of cool equipment released, ranging from Case and John Deere’s new dedicated dozer and grade control track loaders to JLG’s Davinci all-electric scissor lift and Kubota’s SCL1000 compact tool carrier. I will discuss all that in an upcoming feature hopefully posting this week. We will also continue to post about new products released at the show all week long.

Of course, all the coolest exhibits were outside in a Festival Lot that you had to take a bus to get to, which often had an intimidatingly long line, but once you got there the booths were worth the rest of your day — like Cat’s crazy Global Operator Challenge arena (video below) and JLG’s Elevating Access booth with its extremely awesome virtual elevator. All along the way, AEM did a great job of making everyone feel safe. Daily e-mails were sent out assessing the changing situation, hand sanitizer stations were everywhere, booths and attendees sported “No Offense, Just Makes Sense” no handshake signs and buttons and the elbow/chicken wing became the preferred method of greeting.

Perhaps most memorable was simply attending.

Everyone you met knew you had skin in the game. Most folks had an opportunity to back out, so people knew you were going above and beyond to not miss CONEXPO 2020. Every hand you did shake was an extremely important one, and the overall sentiment was that we still need to meet to do business and even a pandemic wasn’t going to stop the construction industry from moving forward. More to come soon. Until then, here are some quick stats on the show and some photos to give you a sense of what it looked like if you didn’t get to attend. All photos courtesy of AEM.

Key metrics reflect overall quality of CONEXPO-CON/AGG and IFPE 2020 attendees:

  • U.S. buyer attendance increased 8 percent from the 2017 show, and total buyer attendance improved by almost 5 percent.
  • Overall contractor and producer attendance grew by 14 percent.
  • 6-in-7 attendees serve in a decision-making role.
  • Total registered attendance reached over 130,000 for the week.
  • Attendees purchased a record-breaking 75,622 tickets for education sessions at the show, a 46-percent increase from the 2017 show.
  • At the same time, the technological change revolutionizing these industries was pervasive across the shows’ record 2.7 million-plus net square feet of exhibits featuring 2300-plus exhibitors from the leading U.S. and global manufacturers, from multinational giants to small firms with specialized products.

Keith Gribbins is publisher of Compact Equipment.

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