The importance of shows

We are in what many in the industry call a “show year” for the mechanical contracting industry. In English Canada, three major shows that occur only once every two years will take place this year. Later this month, the Canadian Mechanicals and Plumbing Exposition (CMPX) takes place in Toronto. In early May, the industry travels to Moncton, N.B. for the Mechanical Electrical Electronic Technology Show (MEET). And in November, CIPHEX West, the major Western show, will take place in Calgary.

A few years ago there was a question around trade shows that I seem to be hearing less these days: In this age of the Internet and instant access to product information, photos, how-to videos, etc., are trade shows still relevant? Attendance figures from recent shows provide an answer and it’s not what many people expected.

As the Internet has become more important in our day-to-day lives during the past 15 years or so, mechanical industry trade shows have enjoyed a steady increase in attendance too. The recent AHR Expo – North America’s largest HVAC/R exhibition – enjoyed record attendance despite a snowstorm on the first day and extremely cold weather when it occurred in New York City in January.

So why are trade shows not fading away as many predicted? There are a number of reasons, not least of which is the ability to use the Internet to get information about the show out to people. Show organizers have become much more savvy in using multiple medias to promote their events.

But that’s not the big reason. The most important factor is simply the nature of the mechanical industry itself. This is an industry in which people design, build and repair plumbing and HVAC/R systems with their hands.


As a result, the ability to attend a show and pick up, probe and examine products along with the opportunity to speak directly to the manufacturer cannot be matched by any “virtual” experience. The Internet is useful for getting information quickly, but it seldom provides answers for tough questions. In fact, sometimes it’s difficult to find answers to simple questions, particularly for a technician in a bind at the jobsite.

Add to that educational seminars, manufacturer hosted social events along and the opportunity to get together with other contractors and industry personnel – shows have a lot going for them.

One thing that we have been urging over the years is that contractors give their technicians an opportunity to attend. It’s not easy to take a tech of the job, but they will pick up ideas and information at the show that will help them do their jobs better.

If you live in the rural areas, bring the family and make a holiday of it – they will appreciate the opportunity to visit the big city.

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Canadian Construction Association 96th Annual Conference
MARCH 8-14, 2014

Westin Playa Bonita Panama, Panama City, Panama. Call (613) 236-9455 or visit for more information. 

Canadian Mechanicals and Plumbing Exposition (CMPX)
Mar 19-21, 2014

Metro Toronto Convention Centre, Toronto. Visit or call 1-800-282-0003. 

CMCEF Construction Middle Management Education Conference
APRIL 1-3, 2014 

Hilton Garden Inn, Saskatoon, Sask. Call (613) 232-5169 or visit

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March 2014
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