New truck show all about business

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TORONTO, ON — The North American Commercial Vehicle Show (NACV Show) won’t look like other trucking events across the U.S. when the doors open from September 25-28. There will be no recruiting pavilion; no show and shine competition. Not even drivers walking the halls. But when the inaugural event opens in Atlanta, Georgia, it will feature an undeniable focus on the business of trucking.

To borrow from the show’s tagline, this is “where fleets meet”.

Exhibit space in the Georgia World Congress Center is already sold out, ensuring 367 companies will be on site — including every major Original Equipment Manufacturer. As of July 24, another 25 hopeful exhibitors were on a waiting list for any last-minute space that might open.

“I don’t think we’ve ever seen booth designs quite like this,” adds Joe Glionna, president of Newcom Business Media, which has partnered with Hannover Fairs USA in the venture. “The truck manufacturers are making an incredible investment to ensure their booths are designed in a way that’s conducive to conducting business … the ‘wow factor’ around the show is going to be crystal clear.”

The sheer scale of the space will ensure exhibitors can display full product lines, from commercial trucks to buses. Notably, many of them will also incorporate dedicated meeting spaces, while others are preparing to book on-site rooms by the hour.

“You’re going to see lots of meetings take place on and off the show floor,” Glionna says.

The focus on business dealings, after all, is the reason the show emerged. Industry suppliers had been raising frustrations about the structure of established shows in the U.S. Niche-market events were serving groups like vocational or construction markets, but it was difficult to conduct business at broader industry events where qualified buyers had to share space with drivers and truck enthusiasts.

Business-to-business shows in North American have not traditionally been home to on-site deals, like those which take place in Europe. “But that,” Glionna adds, “is starting to change.”

Schedules presented another challenge. Deutsche Messe — Hannover Fairs USA’s parent company — runs Europe’s largest truck show every two years in Hannover, Germany. Opportunities in the U.S. had been established around annual shows.

“They didn’t feel they had enough to talk about every year,” Glionna says, referring to manufacturers and their scheduled release of new products. And the idea of alternating years with a European show became particularly interesting to the major suppliers with a presence on both sides of the Atlantic.

The show that emerged as an answer to these challenges involves its own trans-Atlantic partnership between Deutsche Messe and Newcom Business Media. Deutsche Messe is linked to shows in Germany, China, India and Turkey, while Newcom is behind Canada’s Truck World and Expocam trade shows. (Newcom also publishes Today’s Trucking, Truck and Trailer, Truck News, and Truck West, among other titles with shows of their own.)

Glionna reached out to the company that had already made overtures to buy Truck World, and within weeks a meeting was set up in Toronto. If they partnered together on developing a U.S. show, Glionna argued, they would offer an enticing option for the U.S. market. Deutsche Messe purchased half of Truck World, and Newcom secured half of the new venture south of the border.

The new event’s fleet focus will be somewhat dictated by its schedule. On opening Monday, only guests invited by the exhibitors can attend. The doors are open to other visitors from Tuesday to Thursday. “Owner-operators are on the road making money,” Glionna says of the weekday schedules.

Atlanta itself was selected as the event’s home for several reasons. It’s one of about eight cities in the U.S. that can accommodate a show this large, he says. It was also neutral territory when compared to other major hubs found close to the head offices of one manufacturer or another. Meanwhile, the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport could accommodate fleet executives attending from across the country, and there were enough nearby rooms to include a housing block that features 36 hotels.

 “It’s not dead center of the country, but it’s also not on a coast, and in terms of north and south it’s pretty central,” Glionna says.

There are several major tourist attractions in Atlanta, too, including the College Football Hall of Fame, Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola, Centennial Olympic Park, CNN Center, Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, and Jimmy Carter Library and Museum.

As important as the sold-out floor space will be, Glionna doesn’t plan to measure success by that alone. More important will be the quality of the buyers who attend. Organizers have also been quick to temper expectations about visitor volumes as well. It takes time to change habits. Don’t expect 30-40,000 fleet representatives and executives, he says. A draw of “thousands” is more likely. This year it’s about establishing a foundation for future shows, and demonstrating that things are heading in the right direction.

“We see the show coming to fruition for 2019,” he says.

But fleet managers and executives can be part of it this year.

“If you’re looking for free registration, speak to your suppliers who are exhibiting and get a code,” Glionna says.

After all, it’s where fleets meet.

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John G. Smith is the editorial director of Newcom Media's trucking and supply chain publications -- including Today's Trucking,, TruckTech, Transport Routier, and Road Today. The award-winning journalist has covered the trucking industry since 1995.

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