Glowing Reports from IMTS at McCormick Place

HIL ANDERSON, SENIOR EDITOR
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Chicago, IL – The new labor rules at Chicago’s McCormick Place helped make the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) a great experience, according to the show organizers.

Peter Eelman, vice president of exhibitions and communications for the Association for Manufacturing Technology, said the streamlined work rules that allowed exhibitors to do more of their own move-in and move-out work were well received.

“The move-in process was just what our exhibitors were looking for,” Eelman told Trade Show Executive. “The changes allow each exhibitor to ask when do you need help and when do you not?”

Eelman said the move-out process was completed in less time than previous shows, although the amount of exhibit space, 1,137,375 net square feet, was down from 1,233,878 nsf in 2008, when the event was No. 4 on the TSE Gold 100 rankings of the largest U.S. trade shows. Attendance was 82,411 and the number of booths was approximately 1,200.

The biennial IMTS, held this year September 10-15, was the first major trade show held under the new labor regime, which took effect August 1. It is noted for its heavy machinery, which requires the efforts of technicians who work for the exhibitor. In the past, those technicians were largely restricted to supervising union members who were doing the actual labor.

The show ended with union carpenters holding an informational picket outside McCormick Place. Some signs in the crowd wrongly stated the carpenters were on strike. “The demonstration resulted in a very short work stoppage during the move-out,” David Causton, general manager of McCormick Place, said in a message to customers. “The dispute was quickly resolved. The move-out went on as scheduled.”

Eelman predicted that the changes in the work rules would not be the beginning of the end of the union’s presence at McCormick Place. “There were fewer carpenters on the floor but there was not a shortage of hours,” he said.

“Our sense is that exhibitors will begin to bring in more things because they can do more work themselves, but there is still plenty of carpenter work to be done,” Eelman said. He added that trade show exhibitors with large booths would not be anxious to have their sales people doing heavy duty assembly work.

Eelman also predicted that the money some exhibitors save on labor will be invested in larger booths at the next IMTS.

Reach Peter Eelman at (703) 827-5264 or peelman@atmonline.com; David Causton at (312) 791-7000 or dcauston@mpea.com