The Utility Expo and FABTECH Experience Record-Setting Attendance and Growth
Two leading trade shows dedicated to the utility construction and manufacturing industries pulled off successful, record-setting editions in Louisville, Ky. and Chicago recently.
The Utility Expo
The Utility Expo recently returned to Louisville with a record-setting gathering of more than 21,000 utility construction professionals from the U.S. and 60 countries – smashing the show’s previous attendance record set in 2019.
Held Sept. 26-28 at the Kentucky Exposition Center, the biennial event also broke size records, spanning 1.5 million square feet of space occupied by more than 900 exhibitors showcasing the industry’s latest products and solutions, including the show’s signature interactive product demonstrations.
“From every perspective, this year’s The Utility Expo surpassed all expectations, offering an abundance of sights and experiences for attendees,” said John Rozum, show director of The Utility Expo. “Our goal is to bring utility pros together with exhibitors and equipment manufacturers to advance the utility industry and showcase how the equipment, products and technologies help keep our communities working and thriving.”
Related: Listen to our recent Trade Show Talk podcast with AEM’s John Rozum
Jim Glazer, The Utility Expo show chair and president of Elliott Equipment Company, added: “By all measures, this was an outstanding Utility Expo with more to see and experience than ever before. “The Utility Expo is always a tremendous opportunity to make lasting industry connections and take advantage of education that helps participants continue to grow and stay competitive.”
Expanded Educational Opportunities
In 2023, The Utility Expo offered 69 educational sessions and workshops designed to equip attendees with training and certifications to elevate their skill sets and career prospects. Providing a mix of hands-on field classrooms, educational workshops and free sessions covering everything from new technologies to traffic safety and underground utility locating, the show’s education lineup offered sessions that allowed participants to earn professional development hours (PDHs).
As part of the show’s new Safety Symposium, the American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA) brought a wealth of safety-related educational workshops to the event, and certification training related to flagger certification and traffic control technicians was also offered.
The Utility Expo collaborated with the National Utility Contractors Association (NUCA) to produce the NUCA Lounge, which served as a welcoming central gathering point for its members who attended the show. NUCA also offered a confined-space-entry safety course for attendees at the show.
“Our education offerings at the show range from peer-to-peer demos to professional instruction to free drop-in sessions,” Rozum said. “Whether you prefer to learn in the classroom or in the driver’s seat, The Utility Expo has you covered.”
The Utility Expo 2023 also saw the return of The Jobsite from Planet Underground, which hosted hourly and free peer-to-peer demonstrations of predictive analytics software, electromagnetic (EM) locating, ground penetrating radar (GPR), subsurface utility engineering (SUE), underground RFID marking devices and GIS mobile applications.
Besides allowing attendees to experience exactly what it’s like to work on a site, The Jobsite also promoted the importance of damage prevention and how equipment can play an important role in protecting underground utilities.
Meanwhile, the show’s Community Zone offered attendees and exhibitors a comfortable place to rest, recharge, network and charge their devices while enjoying live music, complimentary food and drink, bourbon sampling, prize giveaways, The Utility Expo Show store featuring exclusive merchandise and an information desk answering show and Louisville questions.
“We are thrilled with the overwhelming success of this year’s The Utility Expo,” Rozum said. “The record-breaking attendance, exhibitor engagement, exceptional educational content and groundbreaking innovation all reflect the incredible dedication and passion within the utility industry.”
The Utility Expo is owned and produced by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), which represents off-road equipment manufacturers and suppliers in the agriculture and construction-related industry sectors worldwide.
The Utility Expo will return Oct. 7-9, 2025, to the Kentucky Exposition Center.
FABTECH — a North American event for metal forming, fabricating, welding and finishing — wrapped up a four-day run in Chicago with significant milestones for attendance, exhibitors and show floor size.
Held Sept. 11-14 at McCormick Place, FABTECH 2023 welcomed 40,505 attendees from across the globe — a 26% year-over-year gain in attendance compared to the 2022 event in Atlanta and a 40% increase compared to the 2021 event in Chicago, according to FABTECH officials.
Representing 80 countries and all 50 states, metal forming and fabricating industry professionals, leaders and key decision-makers converged at the annual trade show and conference to explore cutting-edge technology and innovations, engage in education sessions, establish new business relationships and foster key networking connections.
“This year’s event was an exceptional gathering, offering the industry a one-stop-shop for solutions with an expansive show floor that truly showcased the future of manufacturing,” said Tracy Garcia, FABTECH group director at SME, which produces the show. “FABTECH remains well-positioned to continue its leadership role in delivering access to leading-edge trends, technologies and innovations that are driving manufacturing forward.”
An Expanded Show Floor
Spanning 825,325 square feet across three exhibit halls, the FABTECH show floor was 26% larger compared to the 2022 edition in Atlanta and 38% bigger than the 2021 event in Chicago, accommodating 40% more exhibitors.
Featuring an extensive showcase of more than 1,500 suppliers, including 235 new exhibitors unveiling more than 575 new products, the bustling expo also offered eight technology pavilions across three halls that explored critical sectors including 3D/additive manufacturing; forming and fabricating; finishing; METALFORM; tube/pipe; robotics and industrial automation; welding and welding automation.
Prominent industry leaders, alongside a diverse range of exhibitors, once again converged at the event, and notable companies missing from the show floor in 2021, including Lincoln Electric, AIDA-America and MC Machinery Systems/Mitsubishi Laser, made their return in Chicago to showcase their latest products and solutions.
Many attendees and exhibitors shared their positive experiences at FABTECH 2023, citing a busy show hearkening back to pre-COVID levels of attendance, interaction and quality leads.
“FABTECH 2023 is one of the best shows we’ve attended in over a decade,” said Ann Beaupre, marketing project manager for Wilson Tool International. “The high level of attendee traffic and the overwhelmingly positive reception of our new products by customers have left us absolutely thrilled.”
Education and Special Events
FABTECH’s extensive educational program comprised more than 180 sessions and workshops across 15 technology tracks, with industry thought leaders and experts guiding more than 1,000 conference participants through key topics including automation, smart manufacturing, welding, cutting, lasers, lean, workforce development and business management strategies.
Addressing the latest industry trends and challenges, special events included inspiring keynote presentations and FABx Tech Talks that provided attendees with valuable insights into topics ranging from advanced technology and manufacturing processes to business leadership and risk management.
Additional special events included daily Leadership Exchange Panels covering advanced manufacturing, robotics, workforce development and capital funding sources; The Women of FABTECH breakfast celebrating the achievements of women in manufacturing; and the State of the Industry session offering a comprehensive analysis of the manufacturing landscape.
FABTECH 2024 is set for Oct. 15-17 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla.