January has always been a big month for trade shows. Going back in my career, we had a number of shows that kicked off the year in a variety of industries. Now that I think about it, several industries anchor their years with January shows.
The National Retail Federation (NRF) is always at Jacob Javits convention center in New York City the first few weeks of January. This show started small (before moving to the big hall, it was held in hotel ballrooms and consisted of tabletops and portables) but has grown as retail has grown and changed. A large number of the anchor exhibitors are technology companies (Fujitsu, IBM, NCR, Motorola-Symbol, Oracle) as retail has become dependent on technology to target and find and define an ever-dwindling customer base.
The National Association of Home Builder's (NAHB) flagship show, the International Builder's Show (known as IBS) takes up 4 days in either late January or February on 2-year turns in select cities (Vegas, Orlando, New Orleans, Atlanta). A very horizontal show, it brings in over 1,000 exhibitors and 60,000-plus visitors to talk about everything from tools to paint to trucks to fixtures of all kinds. Houses are build inside and outside the hall and dancers and talent of all kinds are featured to help tout the wares of the likes of Sears, Kohler, Anderson Windows, Cambria and Whirlpool. This is (or was?) such an influential show that the Dallas Convention Center is nicknamed "the house that IBS built."
The heating and air conditioning world focuses on the AHR Expo (nicknamed ASHRAE for the association that holds it's conference at the same time). AHR is a bit of throwback in that no booth (with a few exceptions) can be over 8 feet in height. Hanging banners aren't allowed and in-line sight lines are also enforced. Johnson Controls and Honeywell used to be the stars of this expo, and live demos of burners, boilers, heating and cooling systems and software control systems were there for the 50,000-plus visitors to see in over 900 exhibits.
Also in the mix are Surfaces, Coverings and CES. These are just a few examples of anchor shows for key industries in our country. As we make our way through economic recovery, let's not forget that sales and progress are made in face-to-face sales and positive interaction.