Trade show time again

Author Michael Deren
May 22, 2019 - 10:30am

Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, I lived in Maine. I loved to go to the regional Eastec show in West Springfield, Massachusetts. March of every year also brought Westec in Los Angeles. I never had the opportunity to attend, but right as rain, it was there every March. Its promotion was a bellwether for me, indicating that spring was around the corner. I needed that hope living in Maine. Then, in 2010, the show began happening every other year. In 2013, the date changed to October. 

It was said that more than 15 percent of the exhibitors were new to Westec, and a 15 percent increase in square footage was promoted. In 2014, the show moved to September. It seems to be floating around, but why? Now, the show seems to run in every odd-numbered year so it won’t conflict with IMTS, and the venue will be in Long Beach, California.

In the old days, I would drive two hours to Eastec for a full day and hit every vendor I needed to see. If I left my current home to attend IMTS, it would involve three hours of driving, including heavy or bumper-to-bumper traffic once I hit Chicago. If I recall, it used to cost $5 to park at Eastec. I was directed to a field and usually could park only two or three rows from the front. Try that at IMTS at McCormick Place in Chicago. If I remember, daily parking there is $25.

The nice thing about regional shows is they are relatively small, so you actually can see everything in one or two days, tops. The arrival of Eastec, which was always a week prior to Memorial Day, indicated that summer was just a few days away. The show fluctuated in size from year to year, with several buildings and even large tents to house everything. The largest event I attended had seven buildings and tents with hundreds of exhibitors that were grouped fairly well: software in one building, cutting tools in another, etc. I see that this year the show is down to only four buildings, which is a shame. 

As far back as the 2009 and 2010 shows, some vendors rented less expensive venues nearby and hosted their own shows during the three days of Eastec. The vendors that had offices near the exposition and hosted events were lucky because they could just piggyback off the Eastec advertising. I am sure that their costs were significantly less expensive than purchasing booth space at the trade show. The cost of the show was and remains the biggest gripe by exhibitors. Unfortunately, most do not have an alternative, especially if their competitors attend.

Eastec and Westec are the largest trade shows for us outside IMTS. There are smaller shows, such as the Northwest Machine Tool Expo in Portland, Oregon, the Tulsa Industrial & Tool Show in Oklahoma and the North Texas Industrial & Tool Show in Dallas. Note that those three shows are in April and May. The closest show to me is the Wisconsin Manufacturing & Technology Show in October, a bellwether for winter. Ugh. But wait. There’s also Southtec in Greenville, South Carolina, in October—my bellwether for moving south.

Enjoy the regional shows during the year. I know I do.    



Machinist's Corner Columnist

Michael Deren is a manufacturing engineer/project manager and a regular CTE contributor. He can be reached via e-mail at