Emptying out the notebook from the Mid-America Trucking Show...
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The mood at this year’s show was considerably upbeat compared with 2009.
At news conferences and in talking with industry stakeholders, we repeatedly heard the phrase “we’re glad 2009 is over.”
Most stakeholders we heard believe that the recession has bottomed out and while things might not get better immediately, they won’t get worse.
The number of exhibitors was up very slightly in 2010 compared with 2009, but the amount of exhibit space utilized was much greater.
Still, exhibits did not fill the recently expanded South Wing C as they did in 2008.
Paccar and its two OEMs — Kenworth Truck Co. and Peterbilt Motors Co. — returned after a year’s absence.
Navistar’s booth was at least the length and width of a football field.
The only OEM not exhibiting was Volvo Trucks North America.
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Exhibit Management Associates (EMA), which puts on the show each year, called the show a resounding success with the 965 exhibiting companies representing 45 states and 12 foreign countries.
The total attendance was 70,647 representing all 50 states and 59 foreign countries.
“We are extremely pleased with the results of our efforts and with the outstanding attendee turnout. We could not have asked for a more positive atmosphere for the trucking industry or scripted a better turnaround for our show,” Toby Young, president of EMA, said. “Given our performance in 2010 and conversations with current, returning, and future exhibitors, we feel that MATS 2011 will be even better. As we continue to make improvements to the show, add value to exhibiting, and offer more opportunities at the premier face-to-face marketing event in trucking, we know that next year’s 40th anniversary will be one of our best expositions, once again raising the bar for the greatest show in trucking.”
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The 2011 show is scheduled for March 31-April 2. Young tells us that the show has stretched into April several times during its 39-year run because of a scheduling conflict with the Kentucky Exhibit Center (KEC), Easter or another major show. Easter is not the reason in 2011 since the holiest of days on the Christian calendar falls on April 24. By the way, EMA and the KEC, where the show is held each year, have signed a new contract when assures the show will be at the KEC for the next 10 years.
In reality, as long as the show is in Louisville, which we’re sure it will be as long as there is a Mid-America Trucking Show, there’s no other place in Louisville large enough for 965 exhibitors and 70,000 attendees.
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The Trucker staff always arrives on Tuesday (news conferences begin one day prior to the beginning of the show) and walks the exhibitor floor, dodging the hundreds of wooden crates and moving fork lifts, looking for interviews.
Out in the KEC lobby, we noticed two men working on an ATM machine for Fifth Third Bank.
When we left a couple of hours later, they were still working on the machine.
When we returned Wednesday morning, they were still working on the machine.
We asked one of the men about it and he said it was a new machine that wasn’t working properly and they’d been trying to fix it since the Monday before the showed opened.
When we came in early Thursday morning, alas no workmen.
Later Thursday, we noticed a sign that said “Out of Order.”
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It was obvious by attendance at seminars that CSA 2010 is on the mid of truckers everywhere because the sessions were standing room only with truckers filling every chair and standing elbow-to-elbow around the sides of the room.
At Thursday’s afternoon session, hosted by FMCSA’s Steve Piwowarski, the audio-visual equipment provided by KEC didn’t work, prompting one trucker to shout “he forgot to do his pre-trip.”
Our staffer Kevin Jones reported that Piwowarski didn’t miss a beat, explaining the new program and taking questions from the crowd.
The equipment worked the next day when Piwowarski presented again.
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Anne Ferro, the new administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety