Seven Trade Shows in 52 Days – Trade Show #1 WOC

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect

The first quarter is always a busy time for trade shows and events for the trades and 2023 is no exception. Although I feel this might be the busiest one of my career, with me hitting seven shows over the course of 52 days.

First up this year was World of Concrete and three words would sum up this year’s show…Back To Normal! Yes, finally feels like we are back to pre-pandemic levels…. strong attendance and traffic all three days.

Saw a lot of the same familiar stuff I’ve seen every year at the show:

  1. Masonry skills competition filled Wednesday morning capped off by the BrickLayer500. Always amazed to see these masonry contractors in action.

2. Outside Silver Lot loaded with product demos. 

3. Big ass concrete machinery

But the most interesting thing I ran across at the WOC show was PINKBAR+, a new fiberglas rebar from Owens Corning. I’ve seen a lot of “new product launches” at these shows, but this product really was a “head turner.” 

2x stronger and up to 7x lighter than steel rebar, plus it’s rustproof! Even though they have the broader code approvals, the local state and city adoption is going to take time…but this will be a game-changer in the market.

Here’s a quick video of some of the highlights I saw at the show (plus I might have snuck in a few meal images:))

That’s it for now for tradeshow #1 of the 2023 season. Next up…back-to-back shows with IBS in Vegas and AHR in Atlanta.

Share this:

2021 Trade Shows — Virtual or Hybrid?

by Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect

Virtual or Hybrid? It’s the question all the industry trade shows targeting the professional tradesman are facing for 2021.

2020 was a rough year for industry trade shows, with a good chunk of them cancelling or postponing their events. And for shows that tried the “virtual” route, they were met with pretty poor results.

Typically, my first quarter is packed with various industry shows, but given the pandemic, here’s how three of these shows are handling their 2021 events.

International Builders Shows (IBS)

  • Co-located with KBIS, the International Builders Show typically draws anywhere from 50k-75k people
  • For this year’s show they’ve decided to go 100% virtual
  • I’m skeptical on the attendance and engagement for the builders and contractors for an event that’s 100% online

World of Concrete (WOC)

  • World of Concrete (WOC) is taking a “hybrid” approach, with a “virtual” education portion and then a “live” in-person event
  • I attended some of the live educational sessions (total of 18), which are now on-demand through the end of March
  • I think the in-person event, scheduled for early June, has a chance of happening, but a lot will depend on the vaccine rollout


  • The WWETT Show is also taking a “hybrid” approach with “virtual” educational sessions late February and the “live” event the end of June
  • The education sessions have always been a key part of this show in the past, so I would imagine the “virtual” sessions should have some success

If you’ve attended these shows in the past, I’m curious your plan for 2021 and how are you going to participate?

If you’d like more info about trade shows in 2021, visit:

Marketing Minute: Preparing for a 2021 without In-Person Events

Ways to Make Up for Cancelled Trade Shows and Missed Opportunities

Share this:
Go Hands-On for Quality Trade Show Interactions

Go Hands-On for Quality Trade Show Interactions

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect, Sonnhalter

One of the most underutilized components implemented by exhibitors at trade shows is the “hands-on” demonstration of their product/solution. Professional tradespeople make their living working with their hands, so it should not be a surprise “hands-on” product demonstrations are a favorite for this audience.

Typically trade shows like to talk about the quantitative stats…number of attendees, number of exhibitors and number of speakers. But instead of focusing on the number of people walking up and down the aisles and attending these shows, maybe we should be focusing more on the quality of the interactions between trade show attendees and the exhibitors. One of the more effective quality interactions would be the “hands-on” product demonstrations and skills competitions at trade shows. In general, booths that have some sort of demonstration or activity for their product tend to have more traffic and activity.

The first quarter of the year tends to be a busy time for trade shows targeting the professional tradesperson. I recently attended the World of Concrete Show and was amazed at the number of hands-on areas. The parking lots of the Las Vegas Convention Center were packed with manufacturer tents highlighting “hands-on” demos with everything from cutting and drilling, to polishing and breaking up concrete.

In another parking lot across from the convention center, there were as many as 4,000 spectators in attendance to watch a number of masonry skills contests, including the SPEC MIX BRICKLAYER 500, SPEC MIX TOUGHEST TENDER, MCAA Masonry Skills Challenge and the MCAA Fastest Trowel on the Block.

It was amazing to see the passion, enthusiasm and support shown by the attendees watching these tradespeople showcase their skills. All of these areas outside the convention center consistently had more active traffic compared to the normal booths inside the exhibition hall.

Now there are a number of factors that go into making a successful trade show, but hopefully, when you are planning your next show, a hands-on demo will be part of it!


Share this: