Mood bright at record-breaking ConExpo-Con/Agg

With both attendees and manufacturers projecting positive outlooks, this year’s largest trade show for the construction industry, ConExpo-Con/Agg, wrapped up Saturday at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

“This has been an outstanding success,” said show co-chair Brent Cook, of Aggregate Industries. “The producers who attend this came in droves. This time they came with a shopping list.”

More than 123,270 people, most of them contractors, from 131 countries had attended ConExpo-Con/Agg 2005 as of noon Friday. Show administrators said at a wrap-up event Friday afternoon they expected attendance to surpass 1999’s record of 124,260. With 21,000 visitors from other countries, the 2005 show’s international attendance was 29 percent higher than in 2002 and 5 percent higher than 1999’s record turnout. Nine association conventions were held in conjunction with the show.

Thanks to an improving economy and pent-up demand for equipment, Cook said this year’s attendees were not just tire kickers – they were ready to buy.

Manufacturers displayed their wares using 1.88 million square feet – or 41 football fields – of exhibit space, making this year’s ConExpo/Con/Agg the biggest ever. The show is the largest the Las Vegas Convention Center hosts. Gerry Shaheen, ConExpo-Con/Agg co-chair and Caterpillar group president, said the record-setting exhibit space is a testament to how the economy of the construction industry is strengthening. “This industry has a lot of buoyancy to it right now,” he said.

Speaking for manufacturers, Shaheen said attending this year’s show was a positive, rewarding experience. “You could sense it walking around,” he said.

ConExpo-Con/Agg was beneficial to the city of Las Vegas as well. Due to the show, the city’s non-gaming revenue for last week was $160 million, said Rossi Ralenkotter, president and chief executive of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. ConExpo is on the convention center’s calendar through 2023.

The first phase of a $400 million expansion to the convention center complex will be complete before ConExpo-Con/Agg takes place again in 2008. The show is held every three years. Expansion plans include an additional 145,000 square feet of meeting rooms and 200,000 square feet of exhibit space. A new office complex and an enclosed connector to the monorail station now serving the center are also part of the addition.

Now that this year’s show is over, exhibitors have until 11:59 p.m. Monday to dismantle and remove approximately 250 million pounds of freight from the convention center. “It’s going to go very smoothly,” said Peter Vlahos, show managing director. “We have to get out because these guys have sold space for other trade shows.”