Too Many Shows? Nah!

With the Apex attendance numbers painting an ugly picture – trade show floor walkers dropped nearly 35% from last year and are down more than 50% from just a few years ago – expect the typical hue and cry over whether there are too many shows.

Ignore it.

Market forces will decide whether there are too many shows, and which ones will live and which will die.

Rarely does a healthy show fail on its own. The exception: Surface Mount International, which its peak in the mid 1990s drew 5,000 attendees to the San Jose Convention Center each year. The assembly event was produced by a number of concerns, including Miller-Freeman, SMTA, IPC and EIA. Problem was, the latter three didn’t like the financial arrangement, under which Miller-Freeman kept the bulk of the proceeds from the lucrative exhibition, while all the partners split the conference revenue. So the partners forced Miller-Freeman out, and the show collapsed within two years. Which is what at least one the partners wanted all along, as getting SMI out of the way set the stage for the then-biggest prize of all: Nepcon West.

But the sabotage that undermined SMI is the exception, not the rule. Nepcon East, Wescon, Electro and plenty of other once-vibrant events went away or were merged because the market stopped supporting them.

So don’t get caught up in the “should they or shouldn’t they” talk about Apex. The market will work its magic on its own.

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About Mike

Mike Buetow is president of the Printed Circuit Engineering Association ( He previously was 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 spent 21 years as vice president and editorial director of UP Media Group, for which he oversaw all editorial and production aspects. He has more than 30 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