“Cautious optimism” follows CONEXPO enthusiasm

CECA-2017-RGBConstruction’s big party, CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2017, wrapped up in Vegas about a month ago, and I am only now getting around to writing about the experience. From the perspective of our agency, it was a great show. And the reason it was a great show for us was that our clients, new and old, told us that it was a great show for them. Enthusiasm was high—the mood was totally unlike the funereal tone in 2014 and 2011. People were buying what the exhibitors were selling and that is good for the industry and the national economy.

There were more than 2,500 exhibitors splashed over 2.5 million square feet of exhibit space. During three full days at the expo I walked every single aisle in every single lot and hall in the show, and I talked to hundreds of people. I spent significant time in 36 booths, but I really focused the bulk of my time in 15 of them. Eight are current clients, and the other seven are not yet clients, though I hope they soon will be. Of those 15, only one was even a little bit disappointed with the show. The other 14 were on the spectrum that began at “Wow, we’re getting serious interest here!” to “Our problem in 2017 is now going to be manufacturing enough to keep up with orders.”

xHHconexpo xtradeshow 2Almost all of these companies are manufacturers of heavy equipment of one kind or another, and many of them reported that they sold all the units in their booth, and took orders for additional units. And that does not even begin to tell the story of the quality leads that sales and marketing managers took back with them to the office to sort through and act on after the show.

When asked why they thought buyers were so optimistic, everyone I spoke to mentioned the forecast of more federal money to support national infrastructure as well as regulation relief. New construction stats have been trending up but are still not great, so most of the optimism was based on future expectations. But as one industry veteran told me, “A depressed man doesn’t spend money. On the other hand, one who is feeling good about the future opens his pockets.”

A couple of weeks after the show, I polled several of the marketing managers I had spoken to earlier to see if their outlook had changed. Again, almost everyone said that their primary feeling about business was one of cautious optimism. Some of the Vegas enthusiasm had faded, but the overall feeling was still very positive. It appears that marketing budgets may be opening up a bit, a trend I expect to accelerate if this year ends up in positive territory.



Matt Fueston is an Account Manager for Ellenbecker Communications, is responsible for new business development, and contributes as a staff writer. He believes in the intersection between Sales and Marketing.