Utility Expo and NGA Show Pull Off Successful In-Person Editions

October 11, 2021

While the Delta variant has certainly thrown a wrench in the industry’s recovery machine, major trade shows are continuing to happen in personpandemic or no pandemic. Check out two recent events that not only took place safely and successfully but also exceeded expectations. 

Utility Expo

As the largest premier event for utility professionals and construction contractors, The Utility Expo (formerly ICUEE) is known for showcasing the latest and greatest in cutting-edge industry technologies, innovations and trends. This year, the biennial event not only did just that but also in an expansive way, breaking its own record as the largest in its history, with more than 950 companies spanning more than 1.4 million net square feet of indoor and expanded outdoor expo space. 

Held Sept. 28-30 at the Kentucky Exhibition Center in Louisville, Ky., the show drew more than 16,500 attendees, including decision-makers from major utility companies from across the country, who flocked to the event to view specialized exhibits and product unveilings, participate in hands-on test drives and demonstrations, learn about the latest industry innovations, make purchasing decisions, take advantage of unique educational opportunities and network with industry peers from all utility sectors.

“It was significant to be able to safely and successfully operate The Utility Expo this year,” said Dave Hughes, vice president of global sales for McElroy Manufacturing, Inc. and 2021 show chair. “The new and expanded show layout, fabulous weather, innovative products and technologies, and engaged crowds all contributed to a very successful event.” 

Utility Expo 2021

Across more than 30 acres of equipment, products and technologies, exhibitors such as Jamie Gardner, brand manager for trade shows and events at Milwaukee Tool, said that while the company wasn’t sure what to expect, the show did not disappoint. 

“We are thrilled with the number of decision-makers who are at the show and the engaging conversations we were able to have,” Gardner said from the expo floor. “The number of leads we were able to acquire exceeded our expectations and we are looking forward to 2023.” 

Given the extraordinary circumstances around in-person events, show officials said they were excited to be able to produce the show as planned and meet the needs of its industry.

“We [were] glad to bring the utility industry back together in person again this year,” said John Rozum, show director for The Utility Expo, which is owned and produced by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM). “We have a long history and strong partnership with the Kentucky Exposition Center and the communityit [was] good to be back here in Louisville.” 

According to show officials, this strong partnership with the KEC started in 1987 when the show required a facility with indoor and outdoor exhibit space capable of handling demos and test drives for cranes, earth-movers and heavy-duty trucks. And thanks to the venue’s expanded outdoor space, the show has extended its contract there through 2029.

The Utility Expo will return to the Kentucky Exposition Center Sept. 26-28, 2023.

NGA Show

The independent supermarket industry recently enjoyed a big welcome back with the in-person return of its marquee event, The NGA Show. Held Sept. 19-21 at the Paris Las Vegas, the 38th annual conference and trade show, along with its sister event, the NGA 2021 Executive Conference, drew more than 2,300 independent retailers and wholesalers, food retail industry executives, food/CPG manufacturers and service providers from nearly all 50 states. 

Produced and managed by Clarion Events as part of its Food & Beverage Group in partnership with the National Grocers Association, The NGA Show featured a sold-out exhibit hall showcasing new products and services from nearly 300 vendors, inspiring keynotes, 50-plus educational sessions led by more than 100 speakers discussing the latest issues facing the food retail industry and plentiful networking opportunities and special events.

The NGA Show 2021

“After 18 of the most challenging months our industry has ever faced, we are honored and excited to be returning to Las Vegas with an in-person NGA Show to celebrate the hard work and dedication of our ‘supermarket superheroes’,” said NGA President and CEO Greg Ferrara at the show’s opening. “The NGA Show continues to be the marquee event for the supermarket industry to network and learn best practices. We’re already looking forward to returning to Las Vegas next spring to celebrate NGA’s 40th anniversary.”

This year also marked the first time that the NGA Executive Conference and The NGA Show were held in the same location. 

Designed to enable CEOs and their leadership teams to increase profitability and enhance business opportunities, the invitation-only NGA Executive Conference took place Sept. 18-19 and featured networking events, enhanced educational sessions and expanded opportunities for trading partners to connect. 

Both events featured enhanced safety protocols for attendees, who were required to wear masks at all indoor events and present proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID test to gain entry.

“The combined experience of the Executive Conference and NGA Show delivered actionable insights to help their businesses embrace the opportunities available to the most aggressive innovators,” Ferrara said. “We’re excited about what our attendees will be taking home with them, and we’ll continue to build on this as we return for the 2022 NGA Show in just a few months.” 

The NGA Show 2022 is scheduled for Feb. 27–March 1, 2022, at the CAESARS FORUM Conference Center in Las Vegas.

 

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Partner Voices

As event professionals and destinations adjust, adapt and evolve in these uncharted waters, it is imperative that substantial resources be put in place for all of the people responsible for planning and executing trade shows, expositions and conventions. An example is Mohegan Sun, which built an industry-leading, COVID-19 Resource Center with a combination of pictures from recently held successful events (the property reopened on May 1, 2020) along with several widely available and informative documents, such as an evolving operational framework: