Attendees had plenty of room to roam the exhibit floor at World of Concrete and World of Masonry in New Orleans earlier this month. Show officials cited a combination of a sluggish economy and the event's location as the main reasons for the reduced turnout.
The attendance figure of 40,000 was down by nearly half from last year's record attendance of 77,000 in Las Vegas. Projected registration for the shows was 45,000 to 50,000. According to Mark DiCicco, a media relations representative for the shows' producer Hanley-Wood Exhibitions, the economy was the primary factor. 'We still had about the same number of companies attending, but fewer people from those companies attended this year,' says DiCicco. 'In previous years, companies would send several people. This year, more companies sent only a single representative.'
In a survey conducted by the shows' producers, attendees stated their preference for the bright lights of Las Vegas over the Crescent City for the shows' venue. 'People prefer Las Vegas,' says DiCicco. In large part, that is why the shows will be located permanently in Las Vegas in 2005, DiCicco says. While the 2003 show will be held in Las Vegas, the 2004 show will be in Orlando, Fla.
ConExpo-ConAgg coming in March also had some impact on attendance, DiCicco says, but it did not adversely affect exhibitor numbers. More than 1,440 companies exhibited products at the Morial Convention Center.
The specification of colored concrete by architects and owners and its use by contractors has spawned a growth market that was reflected at the show. Decorative concrete is being used more in residential and commercial building, according to DiCicco. In response to the trend, the show for the first time offered five well-attended seminars on decorative concrete.
'More companies are getting involved with [colored concrete]. It's a competitive market, and colored concrete is a growth area,' says DiCicco. 'For contractors, it's a way of diversifying their companies.'
The trend was further reflected by the announcement at the show of the alliance between Cleveland-based Master Builders and Los Angeles-based L.M. Scofield Co. to offer concrete coloring products, service and technical support. According to company officials, the alliance is intended to drive growth of the splintered market by spreading the word about color-conditioned concrete to specifiers, and by training ready-mix producers to ensure that quality products are delivered on time when ordered.