Conexpo-Con/Agg 2008 scored as one of the most exciting exhibitions in recent memory, if not in its history. Leaving Las Vegas, we had several reasons to consider the previous 10 days some of the best the equipment industry has ever experienced.
- Upbeat attitudes. Although the residential markets continue soft and headline-grabbing, overall market expectancies were anticipatory rather than retreating. More than one attendee wondered if all the national concern about recession were nothing more than a 24/7 electronic-media creation. The verdict's still out, but more end-users were anticipating increased activity than were not.
- Innovative machines. We saw some ground-breaking innovation unveiled this year. In the North Hall alone, three major earthmoving developments were on display.
- Overall size. It's always a challenge covering Conexpo-Con/Agg, but the 2008 version severely tested endurance. This edition included not only a great collection of new iron, but also more exhibits including the Safety Zone and expanded outdoor lots. The industry responded in record numbers, with attendance blowing past expectations and previous records.
- Global marketplace. International visitors have thronged to Conexpo-Con/Agg for several shows now, but the level of participation from international exhibitors was noticeably higher this year.
- Youth in our future. AEM's inaugural Construction Challenge brought 30 teams of high school students to Las Vegas to compete and to experience what this industry has to offer. Hundreds of young people walked the show floors; saw innovative machines; and met and talked with manufacturers, distributors, end-users and all others associated with this great industry.
Several hundred of us packed into the Hilton Pavilion on Friday morning for the awards ceremony, and we saw an encouraging future. Hats off to AEM for pulling off a wonderful contest that brought the equipment industry into our high schools.
There was no better way to cap one of the most fulfilling shows in recent memory than with the confidence that the industry is in good hands.
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