CONSTRUCT Trade Show Report

After the CONSTRUCT trade show that took place last week in Philadelphia, I have serious questions about the viability of the show as a venue for building product manufacturers.

The show had a total registration over 4000 (and up six percent over the previous year's show in Indianapolis), but about a large share of these were exhibitors or "Industry Members" of CSI (product reps), decreasing effective show attendance to under 3000. With this relatively small attendance in comparison to other industry events, many booths were staffed by regional sales managers, not the top managers and technical staff that most attendees hope to connect with at a trade show. In comparison, the AIA Show in June expects to have over 20,000 attendees.

CONSTRUCT is scheduled to be in Chicago in 2011. But Greenbuild will also be in Chicago in November of 2010, and I suspect that many people will prefer to see the city for that much larger event.

CONSTRUCT is co-branded with the CSI Annual Conference and with the TFM nameplate (Today's Facility Manager), but there was no facility manager presence there.

Hanley Wood produces CONSTRUCT, but they have recently aquired management rights to the far larger American Institute of Architect's convention. How much energy will HW be wiling to invest in CONSTRUCT when the stake for the company is so much greater for AIA? From an exhibitor standpoint, it would make sense to fold CONSTRUCT into the AIA event, but that would be difficult since CSI and AIA have very different cultures.

While prospects for CONSTRUCT look bleak, do not rule it out. I remember 15 years ago when the AIA show was in rigor mortis and CSI's show was the place to be, so fortunes can yet change. Whatever the future of CONSTRUCT, CSI will continue to find a way to have an annual conference, and it will continue to be a good venue for building product manufacturers that rely on architectural specifications to drive sales.

Complements are due, however, on the high quality educational programming. If you were unable to attend the show, you can benefit by downloading the handouts from the presentations. Click here.

Photo by Joy Davis, CSI