2002: Business - Official: ’02 not last Fall Expo

The 2002 PGA Fall Expo opens next week in Reno, Nev., and many industry watchers are convinced it will be the last. Golf does not need two trade shows, they argue. And with most major equipment makers shunning Reno – and closely evaluating their participation in the bigger PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Fla., after Ping and Acushnet announced that they would no longer attend that event – it is simply a matter of time before Reed Exhibition Cos. merges the two gatherings. And many feel that the time is now.

But Christopher McCabe, the Reed vice president who serves as show manager for both PGA events, will have none of that.

“This is definitely not going to be the last Fall Expo,” he said. “We are looking forward to a great little event in Reno and another one in San Diego in 2003.”

That’s not to say, however, that things are not changing. The Fall Expo has been shrinking in size. This year’s gathering – July 31-Aug. 3 at Reno Sparks Convention Center – will be less than half as big as it was two years ago, with roughly 300 exhibitors, 5,000 or so attendees and 65,000 square feet of floor space. It also will have several new features, including an expanded educational program that begins two days prior to the show (Aug. 2-3) and product testing opportunities at area courses, which also will be open to equipment makers who are not officially exhibiting. This year is the beginning of a site rotation that will take the exhibition to different West Coast venues each year.

Some might assert that the smaller size is simply a sign of weakness and growing insignificance, but McCabe disagrees.

“Actually, we are probably at the size we should be,” he said. “And one reason for the shrinkage is that we have been telling people to watch how much space they take, and not to take more than they need. But even with all that, this is still one of the biggest golf shows in the world, and the fact that we can attract 300-plus exhibitors tells you people certainly feel there is a need.”

It appears that need is felt mostly by golf buyers and sellers in the western United States, and the Fall Expo has a much more regional feel today than it did, say, in 2000 when nearly 800 companies exhibited. While this year’s event will be dominated by small- and mid-sized companies, it does have its share of big-name manufacturers. For example, Nike Golf will use Reno to unveil a number of new products – including fairway woods, its latest footwear and apparel lines, and a model addition to the Power Distance golf ball family.

But McCabe knows that in these uncertain times and markets he cannot count on Nike Golf or any major golf companies being there every year. And he understands that he should not take the current health and viability of the Fall Expo for granted. So he is working on several different ways to bring, in his words, more value to exhibitors and attendees and more compelling reasons to attend. He plans on making some announcements concerning the show – and its future – in Reno.

McCabe also continues to investigate ways to improve January’s PGA Merchandise Show. For example, he met in mid-July with 30 vendors who service that event in an effort to address the cost concerns many exhibitors have.

“We are looking at the different creative things we can do to make both shows better for all involved,” he said. “It is not a question of imposing anything, but rather of responding to what the industry needs.”

For now, McCabe feels the industry needs – and wants – both shows.


















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