OTA to organize national truck show

TORONTO — The Ontario Trucking Association will hold a national truck show in 2000 to compete with Truckcan, the biennial Toronto-based trade show the OTA says it will no longer endorse.

The OTA, the third-largest trucking association in North America, scheduled its inaugural show Sept. 14-16, 2000, at the National Trade Centre, located within Exhibition Place in downtown Toronto. The association has yet to decide whether the event will be held every other year, like Truckcan, or annually.

The next Truckcan show is planned for October 2000 at the International Centre in Mississauga, Ont.

“It’s time we as an industry have a show we can call our own,” said OTA president David Bradley.

The OTA had previously agreed to support Truckcan in exchange for a negotiated fee from Southex Exhibitions, the Toronto-based show manager. The association’s contract with Southex expired at the conclusion of Truckcan ’98.

Bradley said profits from the new show will be shared by the OTA and the Canadian Trucking Alliance, comprised of the seven provincial trucking associations. He said the OTA’s national exhibition is not intended to replace trucking shows held in other regions of Canada.

“Exhibitors want one national trade show, and they have made it clear they will support the OTA show,” Bradley said, adding that the association has “firm commitments” from original equipment suppliers to display products.

Meantime, Southex announced it has already filled 91% of exhibit space for Truckcan 2000, and has firm contracts from major truck manufacturers, previous exhibitors, and companies wishing to expand space.

“The message I get is that yes, the industry wants one truck show,” said Southex group manager Chris Seeney. “Truckcan is it. We’ll do what it takes to ensure that happens.

“Our truck shows are very valuable products, and we have the financial and human resources to manage them more effectively than anyone.”

Southex Exhibitions is owned by DMG Exhibition Group Ltd., a subsidiary company of media giant Daily Mail General Trust plc, based in London. DMG manages more than 200 consumer and trade exhibitions in over 30 countries, including approximately 110 in North America though Southex. The group includes broadcast and publishing companies, including one that produces the Daily Mail and The Mail on Sunday newspapers.

Southex was previously a division of Southam, the Toronto-based publisher.

If necessary, Southex could “give away space for free for a number of years” in order to compete for business, Seeney said. For the 2000 show, Southex raised early registration rates for exhibitors 4%, not 8% as anticipated.

“We can’t be distracted by what someone else is saying,” Bradley responded. “Our show is a show owned by the industry, for the industry, by the industry. This isn’t such a novel idea. Many other associations manage industry shows. I’m not going to be scared off by a power play from a wealthy overseas entity.”

Seeney asserted that the OTA announcement may be a negotiating ploy in order to extract a larger share of the profits from Truckcan, which Bradley denied.

“At this point, there’s no turning back from our point of view,” Bradley said. “I’m always appreciative and in awe of the loyalty that exists in this industry to the associations, and ultimately that’s the intangible we have. No strong words or threats or pressure are going to change that.”

Bradley said show management will be overseen by OTA staffer Barbara Cole, with “key elements contracted to third parties.” He noted that the National Trade Centre, which opened in 1997, provides a state-of-the-art, upscale venue more in keeping with the type of image the industry wants to present.

The OTA also plans to “add a prominent maintenance aspect to the show,” Bradley said. “We’re looking for ways to accommodate that without taking people off the show floor for any length of time.”

He suggested that the Canadian Fleet Maintenance Seminar, presented each spring by the Automotive Transportation Service Superintendents Association, be organized within the context of the OTA’s show.

CFMS organizers could not be reached for comment.

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