3 Record-Breaking Expos Signal Optimism for Continued Industry Growth

October 28, 2022

Despite news this year that has portrayed trade show attendance as being down overall, some events are clearly beating the odds. Three recent record-breakers—PACK EXPO International, PRINTING United Expo and Equip Expositionare sending a message of overwhelming positivity for the event industry’s future, with attendance surpassing pre-pandemic levels and business booming on the show floor.

PACK EXPO International 2022

Held in person Oct. 23-26 at McCormick Place in Chicago for the first time in four years, PACK EXPO International, the packaging industry’s most important show, drew more than 44,000 attendees, eclipsing the 2018 event.

“The success of PACK EXPO is a testament to our industry’s continued growth as well as our commitment to bringing the industry together to share cutting-edge innovations,” said Jim Pittas, president and CEO of The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies (PMMI), which owns and produces the show. “No other event this year showcased so many end-to-end solutions, offering attendees everything they need to compete in a changing marketplace.”

PACK EXPO International opened its doors to attendees ready to do business after years of consistent growth. According to the PMMI State of the Industry U.S. Packaging Machinery report, the market for packaging machinery broke the $15 billion mark this year, an increase of 40% since 2019.

Buyers came in significant numbers, and 2,200 exhibitors showcased ground-breaking packaging and processing innovations over 1.2 million net square feet at McCormick Place.

Improving operations, reaching sustainability goals, and checking out new innovations are just a few of the drivers that brought consumer packaged goods and life sciences companies to PACK EXPO International.

“We come to PACK EXPO to discover ways to enhance our operations, especially from a sustainability standpoint,” said Alexander Clarke, quality engineer at Bath & Body Works. “We are looking for sustainable equipment, options for recyclability and end-of-line customization.”  

Sara M. Carrio, president of Pachitos Ice Cream, attended the show looking for critical solutions to improve their operations.

“We came to PACK EXPO to check out wrapping machinery, and we’ve already closed on about $30,000 worth of deals in our first day here,” Carrio said.

Exhibitors found the show equally rewarding.

“The show was very well attended, and the end-user base was eager to come back and see equipment in person,” said Jeff Kaplan, vice president of integrated systems at Hamrick Packaging Systems. “For our industry, the economy looks like it will be robust in 2023, with customers acting on buying automation and not just talking about it.”

Mario Mazzotta, vice president of sales and marketing for Standard-Knapp, was pleased with the traffic and leads from the show.

“Great PACK EXPO!” Mazzotta said. “We had a record day on Monday with a double-digit increase in leads from previous PACK EXPO shows.”

‍PACK EXPO International’s events and educational programs were also highlights of the show.

A record-breaking Packaging and Processing Women’s Leadership Network breakfast brought together nearly 1,000 professionals to hear Dawn Hudson, former chief marketing officer at the National Football League and former president and CEO of Pepsi Cola North America, talk about her experiences in the workforce. The event was designed to advance the future of women in the packaging and processing industry.

PACK EXPO International also held more than 120 education sessions, beginning with the one-day Emerging Brands Summit and continuing throughout the event at Innovation Stage, Processing Innovation Stage, PACK to the Future Stage, The Forum and Reusable Packaging Learning Center.

Meanwhile, developing the future packaging and processing workforce was a top priority at PACK EXPO International, with more than 1,500 students in attendance—the most in the history of the event. Students enjoyed the show’s Future Innovators Robotics Showcase, educational Amazing Packaging Race and Students PACK the Expo programs.

PRINTING United Expo 2022PRINTING United Expo 2022

PRINTING United Expo, the largest event in printing and graphic arts, was held in person Oct. 19-21 at the Las Vegas Convention Center for the first time since 2019 and overwhelmingly exceeded expectations, according to show officials. Drawing people from 121 countries, the show’s attendance was 7% higher than the 2019 show in Dallas, which had close to 30,000 people in attendance.

Bringing the community together again has revitalized the industry, according to Mark J. Subers, president of PRINTING United Expo.

“The smiles, enthusiasm and energy were simply off the charts,” Subers said. “I’ve truly never seen this amount of engagement from a show—ever.”

Subers attributed the expo’s resounding success to attendees and exhibitors who engaged at the show, the product launches, the live demonstrations and the keynote presentations, as well as the title sponsor, HP, and other sponsors.

A total of 701 exhibitors from around the world occupied 1 million square feet of floor space at this year’s show. Of special note, global CEOs, managing directors and the most senior-level leaders were in attendance this year supporting commercial, digital, apparel, digital textile, packaging, mailing and fulfillment, and graphics/wide-format spaces.  

From an attendance standpoint, PRINTING United Expo has outpaced expositions in other industries this year in total registration by approximately 25%, based on figures recently provided by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR).

Additionally, PRINTING United Expo freight exceeded 5 million pounds at this year’s event.

“One of the tremendous reasons this year’s event was so successful is because of all of the equipment running multiple substrates and soft goods on the show floor,” Subers said. “This is what attendees have indicated they wanted to see and experience, and the exhibitors delivered.”

Attendees and exhibitors of PRINTING United Expo raved about the experience.

Hugh Halpern, director of the Government Publishing Office (GPO), was excited to have the opportunity to attend the show along with his teammates.

“We saw amazing new technology and got to meet many of GPO’s vendors,” Halpern said. “We were also able to meet with many of the firms that have worked with GPO in the past and renew those relationships, as well as make some new ones.”

The best word to describe PRINTING United Expo is “wow,” according to Deborah Hutcheson, director of strategic business development and distribution at Agfa.

“The show was a hive of activity—you could literally feel the excitement, as everyone was happy to be back together again after three years,” Hutcheson said. “The Agfa booth was overflowing with customers and prospects anxious to see the latest technology Agfa offers.”

Lance Martin, vice president of marketing at MBO America & Komori America, was delighted to participate in PRINTING United Expo again and impressed with the turnout.

“This year, we celebrated the powerful brands of Komori and MBO in the same booth,” he said. “Across all three days, our booth was packed with companies from packaging, commercial print and specialty segments all searching for a wide range of automation solutions to help navigate our transforming industry.”  

Ross Hunter, president of ROQ.US, described PRINTING United Expo as a “pivotal harbinger for the industry.”

The message? We’re back—the energy, the passion, the tech, the leadership, the community—and we're here for it,” Hunter said.

During the expo, PRINTING United Alliance, which produces the show, hosted members and those looking to learn more about the association at its member booth and lounge on the show floor. The alliance is the largest, most comprehensive printing and graphic arts association in the industry.

Additionally, the show featured educational programming, including several keynotes, hands-on training and demonstrations and networking pavilions.

Next year’s PRINTING United Expo will take place at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta Oct. 18-20, 2023.

Equip ExpositionEquip Exposition 2022

Equip Exposition, the international landscape, outdoor living and equipment exposition, had the largest participation in its 40-year history. The expo welcomed 25,000 attendees and exhibitors to the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Ky., Oct. 18-21, hailing from 50 U.S. states and 49 countries. Additionally, all indoor and outdoor exhibit space available was sold out for both Equip Exposition and the co-located Hardscape North America.

“This year’s numbers show the industry is strong and optimistic about 2023,” said Kris Kiser, president and CEO of the Equip Exposition and the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), which owns the trade show. “The industry continues to innovate and bring new technologies to markets, evidenced by the major product announcements, education and networking that went on.”

The 2022 show unveiled a new brand and fresh experiences for its participants.

“This year we shook up the programming a bit and introduced lots of new ideas, from an opening welcome reception and new interactive educational sessions to Mulligan’s 5K Fun Run & Walk, a coffee bar and an expanded Outdoor Demo Yard,” Kiser said.

Other changes this year included landscaper educational sessions organized by Landscape Management magazine, as well as new partnerships with the Pool & Hot Tub Association and the Association of Outdoor Lighting Professionals. Dealer education partners included Bob Clements International, the Equipment and Engine Training Council and Power Equipment Trade magazine.

Other education partners included The Irrigation Association, the Professional Grounds Management Society, Davey Tree Expert Co. and the Women’s Tree Climbing Workshop, which covered ways attendees could expand their businesses. 

Original new programming included timely topics such as The California Equation, focusing on the impact that regulatory changes to equipment in the West are going to have on the industry nationwide. 

More than 4,000 people turned out at the first-ever Welcome Reception at Louisville Slugger Field. Nearly 250 participated in the inaugural Mulligan’s 5K Fun Run & Walk over the Big Four Pedestrian Bridge, which was sponsored by Ariens and raised funds for the Kentucky Humane Society. 

Records were also set with sponsorship sales and advertising sales for equip magazine.

Next year’s Equip Exposition, which returns to the Kentucky Exposition Center, will be held Oct. 18-20, 2023. 

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