Editorial: Wellspring of the unexpected
Patrick FlanneryFeatures Business Intelligence editorial live events opinion trade shows
Trade shows offer the chance to learn what you didn’t know you didn’t know.
I attended the Concrete Expo in Mississauga, Ont., recently along with our new associate editor, Daniel Reale-Chin, and our slightly less new brand manager, Robert Elias. It was the first in-person event I’d attended where there was a significant presence from the rental industry. It was great to see old friends and get updated on what they’d been up to for the past two years. Let’s just say the pandemic was not always kind to the robust rental physique – and I can say that as a prime example.
Overall the show was excellent with nearly two halls of exhibitors and a fairly busy show floor. But something happened there that really reinforced to me why we need to continue to support our live shows across the country.
Daniel and I were at the show with a general objective to find a story for this issue, which has a focus on the concrete sector. I knew from past experience that if we went in with an open mind, something was likely to fall in. Trade shows are like that.
Sure enough, we got into a deep conversation on Cooper Equipment Rental’s booth with one of their suppliers, Cliff Kniesly from Michigan Pneumatic. Kniesly turned out to be an absolute firehose of information about concrete breaking technology, including Canadian regulations for tools on road deck projects that I had never heard of. It turns out that there is a lot to know about supplying the right tools for these projects, and I suspect very few of us know it all. Scott MacKinnon of Cooper limped over to join the conversation, still smarting from his all-star performance at a baseball game the previous evening. He’s been renting equipment to projects on Toronto’s elevated Gardiner expressway for decades and probably does know it all, but he confessed that he’d like to see an article on the topic so he could share it with his staff. Well, Mr. MacKinnon, ask and ye shall receive. You can check out Reale-Chin’s debut Tech Tips feature on page 24 telling you what questions to ask when customers are renting breaking equipment for deck work, and how to avoid sending them away with equipment that might not be right for the job.
It occurred to me later that something remarkable had happened. When we walked onto the show floor, neither Daniel nor I knew of Kniesly’s existence. We weren’t specifically thinking about chipping hammers and had no idea there was any regulation about their use on deck work. Yet we walked away with not only a whole new awareness of an issue in the concrete business, but also a couple helpful new friends and some dynamite content for this magazine.
Try doing that online.
Trade shows are like a big lake full of everything that is in the industry. When you throw your line in, you never know what you will draw out. The opportunity to discover unexpected things is unique and, as far as I’ve seen, not replicable by any other means.
In-person trade shows have suffered declining trends in support from attendees and exhibitors for a couple decades now. The pandemic interrupted the usual show cycle and reduced budgets, which has caused many shows to limp back smaller than they were before. They need our support. Get out to your local rental show and take advantage of the chance to learn something new.
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