Show Stopper

Contractors offer tips to help manage your time at a trade show better as two of the industry’s biggest expos approach.
Show Stopper
A big component of the No-Dig Show is its educational opportunities. There are over 160 presentations scheduled, including case studies, throughout the week-long show.

Interested in Drilling?

Get Drilling articles, news and videos right in your inbox! Sign up now.

Drilling + Get Alerts

Attending a trade show can provide a welcome break from the daily routine, but anyone who mistakes a trade show for a vacation isn’t reaping its full benefits. Trade shows offer a wide range of resources, from new products and cutting-edge technology to educational seminars and networking opportunities.

“The trade shows are just an amazing opportunity to network with people in our industry and to be able to find the latest and greatest,” says Heather Morehouse, president of Davids Hydro Vac, of Minnesota.

Trade show season is in full swing. The Water & Wastewater Equipment, Treatment & Transport (WWETT) Show for wastewater and environmental service professionals is Feb. 21-24, at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis.

A month later, the North American Society for Trenchless Technology (NASTT) holds its annual No-Dig Show from March 25-29, at the Palm Springs Convention Center in Palm Springs, California.


Maneuvering through the hundreds of displays and vendor booths of the expo floor can be mind-boggling and exhausting.

“It is overwhelming because there are so many vendors and sometimes they’re all spread out,” Morehouse says. Determining the best method to hit the trade show floor takes some planning. “It’s really just about doing your homework beforehand,” Morehouse says.

She starts with a general idea of the products and services she’s interested in and a list of vendors exhibiting at the show. With a little online research, she can narrow down the list to the key vendors she wants to visit and map out her day. “A lot of the shows are so big you’ve got to have a plan,” she says.

Downloading the trade show’s app can be helpful, also. “Not only does it have a map, but a really great vendor list,” Morehouse says. “You can find what you’re looking for. They usually have things categorized, so the app is really easy to use.”

Michael Flaherty, 65, says he’ll leave the app for the younger generation. The owner of APC in Massachusetts has 42 years’ experience in the industry, and he’s accustomed to reading through the trade show program and circling the seminars and demos he wants to attend. Each day, he’ll find a couple of topics that will help him better understand how to run the business or deal with specific situations.

“I go to see the equipment, but equally, I go to get some new information, like on confined spaces or hauling materials,” he says. He’s always on the lookout for ingenious ideas that will improve operations or solve problems in the field. The formal and informal settings of trade shows are perfect for giving and receiving advice.


Flaherty says he always books a hotel close to the convention center, not simply because of the convenience of staying within walking distance. Nearby hotels also are rich in casual networking opportunities.

“People congregate at the hotels closest to the convention center,” Flaherty says. “You might talk to some guy from Oregon who has the same type of trucks as you, and you might find another type of business complementary to your business you’re doing. You learn by talking to people.”

Parties, demos, and events also provide a good environment for networking, Morehouse says.

“We’re such a specialized niche in our industry. It’s a really good opportunity for our employees to network with the people who do the same type of work that they do because there are not a lot of hydroexcavation companies,” she says.

Morehouse loads up on business cards, brochures, and Davids Hydro Vac T-shirts and hats when she hits a trade show to capitalize on the give-and-take atmosphere. In some instances, she’ll ask a vendor to scan her name badge and get in touch with her after the show.

Flaherty recommends picking up brochures and business cards and tucking them into the handy bags provided by vendors.

“Most of the time when I get back to work — it might be a month later — but I’ll look at the information I got,” he says. Flaherty is especially interested in climbing into the latest model vac trucks.


“What’s nice about the show is its one-stop shopping,” he says. Manufacturers from the U.S. and Canada are on display, saving him the time and expense of traveling to multiple manufacturing facilities. Along with trucks and equipment are safety products, technology services, promotional materials, and other industry-specific items.

“We’ve actually found some really good services at trade shows,” Morehouse says. “It isn’t just about the equipment; it’s about being able to find new products that are going to help support your equipment.”

Three days at a trade show save her hours of time on the internet looking for what the company needs, Morehouse says.

“We like going to the trade shows because it’s everything in one spot. They’ve done all the research for the industry, and they put all these people together for us,” she says.

“You might come back with a different approach or a different angle,” Flaherty says.

A look at the shows

WHEN: Feb. 21-24
WHERE: Indiana Convention Center, Indianapolis
ABOUT: The Water & Wastewater Equipment, Treatment & Transport Show is the largest annual trade show for wastewater and environmental services professionals, with 600 exhibiting companies, 100-plus conference sessions and live demos. Educational seminars are held Feb. 21-23, while the marketplace (exhibit hall) is open Feb. 22-24.
WHAT: No-Dig Show
WHEN: March 25-29
WHERE: Palm Springs Convention Center, Palm Springs, California
ABOUT: NASTT’s No-Dig Show is the largest trenchless technology conference in North America. The show offers six tracks and 160 peer-reviewed, non-commercial presentations, including case
studies. Includes an exhibit hall with over 190 exhibiting companies.    


Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.