A hard-hit construction industry makes it tough to grow a show, but the 3-year-old AGG1 is creating a place for education and the latest innovations.
Now in its third year, the AGG1 trade show may be in a holding pattern in terms of growth, but it’s setting a record in exhibitor square footage. The show, scheduled for March 13-15 in Charlotte, N.C., at the Charlotte Convention Center and co-located with World of Asphalt (WOA), “is looking as good as it did in 2009,” says Rick Feltes, AGG1 Aggregates Forum & Expo chairman and former co-owner of Feltes Sand and Gravel (now part of Lafarge).”We are going to break a record in square footage in terms of exhibitors,” Feltes says. “We had a budget of 27,000 square feet, and we have exceeded that.”
At Aggregates Manager press time, the AGG1 2012 show is ahead of the 2010 show in registered attendees and ticket sales for education topics and even with the inaugural show.
AGG1 was developed as a way to combine 13 events held separately by the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA). The inaugural AGG1 took place in Orlando in 2009 with a second show in Cincinnati in 2010. The annual show was not held in 2011 because of ConExpo-Con/Agg (CECA).
NSSGA has a two-year agreement with the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) to co-locate the show with WOA. The agreement runs through next year with plans to hold the show in San Antonio.
Feltes says after next year’s show, NSSGA will firm up its ConExpo-Con/Agg 2014 plans and then decide whether to continue the agreement and how to move forward with AGG1. “In all likelihood, we will probably co-locate with WOA for the next two years after CECA,” he says.
When asked whether there are ever plans to hold AGG1 during the same year as CECA, Feltes says, “I don’t think we’ll ever have it in the same years as CECA.” The intent is not to compete with the show, he says. “Our intent is to offer the industry, as well as the association, an alternate place to come to a meeting where it’s not as big of an environment and not as sexy of a place to go,” Feltes says. “It’s more of a business trip for companies that want to educate and invest in the employees in a second-tier city where there is not a lot of temptation for nightlife.”
He says the association is trying to hold the show in places where people don’t have to fly as much to attend: places such as Cincinnati, Charlotte, and San Antonio. “Charlotte should be a great place for this event because of the number of quarries and sand and gravel operations in driving distance of the event.”
With regard to how AGG1 is progressing and growing as a standalone show, Feltes says, “We’re happy to a point. When we started the process, no one knew how decimated the construction industry would be.”
However, considering that the inaugural show was in 2009 and in 2010 the show was held during one of the worst snow storms in Cincinnati history, Feltes says AGG1 still “did fairly well given the weather conditions.”
Feltes says, although he is disappointed in the lack of enthusiasm from NSSGA’s member companies, he realizes that “everyone is watching their budgets due to the economy. You can’t fault anyone. We just have to weather the storm a little longer. Hopefully, when the economy comes back, we’ll benefit from that in a big way.”
Feltes does give a nod to show management — the Association of Equipment Manufacturers — for its efforts in handling its responsibilities for selling floor space to exhibitors and trying to ramp up registration. “They do a great job with this,” Feltes says. “It’s a tribute to the industry, the association, and the manufacturers that exhibitors believe in the goals we are trying to accomplish.”
Feltes says when NSSGA moved to its current format of AGG1 being held over a three-day period focusing on educational topics related to the aggregate industry with an average of 45 to 55 classes per event — it lost the same type of input from its previous committee structure. “Each committee would plan its separate forum or meeting,” Feltes says. “Now, the Education Committee determines the classes.
“Each committee used to put on their respective seminars/meetings,” he continues. “It was very inefficient for the association and was very cumbersome for members to attend all of the meetings or some of them. We streamlined it when we put AGG1 together,” Feltes says. “But when we did this, we did away with the committee structure for obvious reasons. As a result, we lost the input from member companies and their employees like we did in the old days.”
To get the best of both worlds — the efficiency and practicality of one yearly show instead of 13 smaller conferences and the valuable input these provided — Feltes says NSSGA has embraced social media. “We are trying to take advantage of social media to re-establish these valuable connections to members through SharePoint, Facebook, Twitter, [and other mediums] to create that buzz we had with the committee structure.”
Discussions via these social mediums are being used to garner input on education topics, Feltes explains. “Social media is the next step in trying to grow the participation level in NSSGA and AGG1,” he says.
For the Aggregates Manager show preview on AGG1, go to
To register for NSSGA’s Annual Convention, go to
www.nssga.org/choice. To register for the AGG1 Aggregates Forum & Expo, go to www.AGG1.org/Attendees/index.asp.
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Fox News Analyst AGG1 KEYNOTE SPEAKER
Nina Easton, Fox News political analyst and Fortune magazine’s Washington columnist and senior editor, will be the keynote speaker at the 2012 National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA) Annual Convention scheduled at the Westin-Charlotte hotel in Charlotte, N.C., March 11-14. The convention is being held in tandem with the AGG1 trade show, which is co-located with World of Asphalt.
Easton will discuss the current political landscape and presidential election campaign, as well as her thoughts on economic recovery, according to the NSSGA.
Nina Easton covers politics and economics in the nation’s capital for a readership of more than 5 million as Fortune’s Washington columnist and senior editor. Her column appears regularly in the magazine and online at Fortune.com. She also co-chairs the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit.
Small Mines Office to Stay Open
Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) officials have indicated that the agency has had a change of heart over its plan to close the Small Mines Office (SMO). According to the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA), the agency will maintain the SMO in its current format.
The Obama administration had pushed for the closure of the office for several years, and Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health Joe Main had indicated that he planned to move SMO resources to district offices, prompting concerns among operators that educational resources might share operator concerns with compliance personnel.
“We are very pleased that a bipartisan mix of congressional leaders who deal with MSHA policy and budget appropriations recognize the critical importance of the agency’s robust compliance assistance to small aggregates facilities so that operators can optimally manage the safety and health of their employees,” said NSSGA President and CEO Joy Wilson in a written response. “Further, given the Mine Act’s requirement that the government should provide effective compliance assistance, we see this move as imperative… Congratulations to MSHA for this sound decision.”