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A crowded North Hall during March's ConExpo-Con/Agg 2020 in Las Vegas. (AEM)

ConExpo excels amid COVID-19

An international audience filled the Las Vegas Convention Center and its new Festival Grounds as the Coronavirus outbreak accelerated across the U.S.

Las Vegas seemed to be in a bubble from March 10-13, the week of ConExpo-Con/Agg & IFPE 2020. Tens of thousands of attendees crowded the halls inside the Las Vegas Convention Center and outside on the new Festival Grounds lot. Business was being conducted and news was being made. Evidence of that is in SAE Truck & Off-Highway Engineering’s extensive coverage of new machines and technology unveiled at the event that appears in the April print issue and online at

But a steady stream of news alerts and near-constant chatter about the quickly shifting Coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. and elsewhere reminded show-goers that not all was business as usual. An abundance of hand-sanitizing stations and red anti-handshaking buttons stating “No offense, just makes sense” also got the point across.

Show management worked closely with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and the Southern Nevada Health District to make sure exhibitors, vendors and attendees were provided with heightened cleaning services, but ultimately made the decision to close the show a day early, on the 13th instead of the scheduled 14th. Thus ended what very well could be the last major tradeshow in the U.S. for a number of months.

Registrations for the show exceeded 130,000. At the conclusion of the event, cancellations from international attendees totaled less than 1%, according to AEM. Organizers also said that exhibitors expressed enthusiasm for the level of engagement they received from contractors and producers looking to purchase equipment. U.S. buyer attendance increased 8% from the 2017 show, and total buyer attendance improved by almost 5%, AEM said. Overall contractor and producer attendance grew by 14%.

“The crowd was much better than expected under the circumstances and most importantly, the right buyers were on the show floor,” IFPE Show chairperson David Price, global marketing manager of HydraForce Inc., said in the post-show press release. “We were very pleased with the strong showing from the 300-plus exhibitors at IFPE 2020, and we are looking forward to the 2023 show.”

Mike Ballweber, president of Doosan Bobcat, shared similar comments: “Tuesday for us was record-breaking in terms of leads and attendance at our booth, which is how we measure how successful the show is for us. We had more people to our booth on the first day than all of the 2017 show.”

Now, in the weeks following the show’s conclusion, manufacturers and other companies including SAE International are adapting to local, state and federal orders to limit operations in brick-and-mortar locations. One way we’ve adapted is to temporarily send our print subscribers the digital edition of the magazine in addition to their print copy, in case it’s being delivered to an office that currently can’t be accessed. We hope this issue — print or digital — finds you safe and in good health.

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