Looking back at ConExpo through the years

ConExpo was something I heard about for years from my late husband. He started selling cranes and excavators in the early 1980s, and every few years he would attend a big show called ConExpo. The first one I remember him talking about was in Houston. His memory of the show was that it was so “international.” He mentioned names like Liebherr and Kobelco for the first time.

Started in 1909 as the Road Show, ConExpo is now the largest tradeshow in North America.

By 1993, ConExpo had set up shop in Las Vegas. Equipment companies from around the world were exhibiting at the show, and it was growing by leaps and bounds. The lore from those early ConExpo shows is altogether legendary.

ConExpo Con/Agg’s first show was in 1909 in Columbus, OH. Back then it was known as the Road Show and the total square footage of the show was that of a single exhibitor’s space today, AEM said. Some 40 equipment manufacturers showed and sold their products. According to AEM, the Road Show was held every two years, and it continued to grow. It was put on hold during World War II.

“After the war, a six-year cycle was established starting in 1957, and the show was then renamed the Construction Equipment Exposition and Road Show, with the name ConExpo being introduced at the 1969 show,” according to AEM.

The big merger

At the same time, another equipment show, known as Con/Agg, was being established. In 1970 that show was named the Concrete and Aggregates Show.

In 2020, ConExpo added a third statue to the show. Depicting a female worker, it represents the growing role women play in the construction industry.

In 1993, ConExpo held its first independent show. In 1994, the Concrete and Aggregates Show hosted its first independent event. Both events were well attended, and it was decided that a combined event would be a good idea. The First ConExpo Con/Agg show was held in 1996 in Las Vegas. It was a record breaking show. It’s been happening every three years ever since. ConExpo 2023 will be the largest ConExpo ever with 2.7 million square feet of exhibit space and some 1,800 exhibitors.

“This show is the family reunion for the construction community, and we are here to make your visit to the show fun – and worth it,” said Show Planner AEM.

My first ConExpo was in March of 2005. One of my reasons for going was to meet up with some folks at KHL Group, which published several construction equipment magazines, mainly in Europe. They were starting an American magazine, and they wanted to talk to me about editing that publication. ACT is that publication.


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