Chicago or Orlando?

Assembly Technology Expo show is drawing to a close today but the battle over where exhibitors will put their trade show dollars next year is just getting started.

In one corner is the incumbent,  AT Expo, which is now run by a new owner, L.A.-based Canon Communications. In the other is SMTA, the longtime trade association of the assembly industry, which is launching its own event in 2007.

SMTA and Reed Exhibition, the previous owner of AT Expo, had been paired up for years and had cobbled together a very solid, if somewhat broadly focused, show in Chicago. However, when Canon purchased ATE from Reed earlier this year, the former cut off a large incentive (read: money) that had provided SMTA with as much as a quarter of its annual operating budget.

While Canon offered SMTA a spot in next year’s show, the lack of guaranteed funding made it less attractive than going it alone. As reported by Circuits Assembly last week, SMTA’s board opted to negotiate a deal to move its technical conference, SMTAI, to Orlando and add an expo focused on electronics assembly to the event. The new show launches in October 2007.

Most exhibitors here said they were caught by surprise over the impending divorce and no clear preference has yet emerged. Some voiced concern over the higher number of shows. Others countered that they’d prefer several regional shows to a single annual (and expensive) event. Many pointed to Canon’s decision to colocate its National Manufacturing Week event with AT Expo next year as a step in the wrong direction as the 40,000 or so expected attendees would dilute the electronics assembly audience while also making it even harder to secure hotel space and other amenities. Still others yearned for the event to move — but to Las Vegas.
How will this play out? Stay tuned.

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About Mike

Mike Buetow is editor-in-chief of Circuits Assembly magazine, the leading publication for electronics manufacturing, and PCD&F, the leading publication for printed circuit design and fabrication. He is also vice president and editorial director of UP Media Group, for which he oversees all editorial and production aspects. He has more than 20 years' experience in the electronics industry, including six years at IPC, an electronics trade association, at which he was a technical projects manager and communications director. He has also held editorial positions at SMT Magazine, community newspapers and in book publishing. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois. Follow Mike on Twitter: @mikebuetow