What to Look For at Conexpo

Feb. 26, 2014

It’s a giant maze of iron on the brightly burning plain that is Las Vegas, and you’ve got only a couple of days to see it.

What’s your plan? You don’t have a plan? You’ve had three years to get ready! I’m very disappointed…but all right, deep breaths. Examining the new equipment is obvious, but attending the educational sessions may be less so.

From Tuesday through Friday there are dozens of educational sessions set up to help you make the most of your business. Yes, they cost money, but so does everything else in this world—you have to spend money to make money, as they say. Consider it an investment in knowledge. Showrunner AEM has developed a handy, three-tiered price structure.

  • $65 for an individual session
  • $195 for any sessions on a single day of the show
  • $395 for any sessions over the event’s four days (it’s like a buffet for your mind!)

You can still register here, or on site.

There are dedicated tracks on Aggregates, Asphalt, Business Management, Concrete, Crane & Rigging, Earthmoving & Site Development, Equipment Management & Maintenance (ding ding ding!), Recycling & Preservation, Safety & Regulations, and Workforce Development.

Me, I think I can learn something on a personal level from Thursday’s “The Effective Movement of Oversize/Overweight Equipment,” but that’s another story.

By the way, if you’re registered for AEMP’s co-located Management Conference and Annual Meeting, you get into the Conexpo-Con/Agg educational sessions for free.

Make sure you don’t overlook the equipment simulators, or the free seminars and presentations, provided by many OEMs in their booths. Though some of their sessions can get a little long-winded, there’s usually time to ask questions. And there are few places where you'd have access to more experts. I’ve seen good presentations from Caterpillar (N10915), Komatsu (N10016), and Topcon (N12966), which usually has an interactive 3D dozer experience.

Also, go check out the Historical Construction Equipment Association’s 1:10 scale model of an 1841 Otis steam shovel (west end of the Grand Lobby, L20012) to take a long look at where we’ve been, and just a moment to be thankful for where we are, technology-wise.

Finally, if you hear about an in-booth “reveal,” definitely put it on your itinerary. It’s the Conexpo equivalent of $2.99 steak and eggs, the free fountain show at the Bellagio, or the Mirage’s volcano. It’s also a fun way to enjoy some theatrics and get a first look at new products.

John Deere (N12621) perfected the construction industry booth reveal at Conexpo 2008 with the spectacular 764 High-Speed Dozer launch. After putting on an ambitious but gabby presentation in 2011, it appears to have steered away from the tactic for this year. Volvo (N10951) also has done organized reveals from the floor during past shows; this year, we hear there will be a big to-do at 11:00am on Tuesday.

Case (N11722) has had, well, let’s say an interesting recent history of costumed singers and theme songs. (I’m still waiting for a company’s signature song to actually be cool—I’m talking something like the “Theme from Shaft.”)

It looks like the newly independent Kobelco (Silver 4408) may have something up its sleeve this time out, too, with “The Beast.”

A good rule of thumb is to check out any teaser ads or material you see in magazines and on websites (Construction Equipment and ConstructionEquipment.com, of course), and come Tuesday morning if you see singers, a countdown clock, cloaked equipment, or a Jumbotron-like screen in someone’s booth, stick around.

It’s bound to be a good show.

About the Author

Frank Raczon

Raczon’s writing career spans nearly 25 years, including magazine publishing and public relations work with some of the industry’s major equipment manufacturers. He has won numerous awards in his career, including nods from the Construction Writers Association, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, and BtoB magazine. He is responsible for the magazine's Buying Files.