Putting on Integrated Supply Network's Tool Dealer Expo is like preparing an army to invade a country, according to Mike DuBois, publishing and editorial manager at ISN. While arranging for 1,000 hotel rooms, vats of coffee and more, DuBois realized they were preparing accommodations for thousands of people.
"I sat in a meeting where the head of hotel catering asked, 'Should we set meals for 2,300 people?'" DuBois said. "When I could recover my voice and breathe normally, I realized just how big this thing has gotten."
The Lakeland, Fla. based warehouse distributor hosted its annual tool expo at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort in Orlando in late June.
More vendors, bigger crowd
The show's popularity continues to gain among vendors and mobile dealers, as evidenced by the 20-percent gain in attendees (to an estimated 2,500), and boost in vendors from 70 in 2006 to 200 in 2007. To accommodate the crowd and vending tables, the show floor was enlarged by more than 30,000 square feet.
"We're extremely pleased with the level of quality we're seeing from the vendors," Dubois said. "Many of the vendors [even] brought the same show booth they take to AAPEX. That really raises the level of the quality for people to be able to come in and see these massive, ornate booths and really high-quality booth and product demonstrations."
In addition to the vendor demos, ISN hosted more than 25 different clinics for mobile dealers on how best to grow their business.
Lloyd Hammond, a farm and industrial supplies buyer, regularly visits ISN from Statesboro, Ga. Hammond has been attending the expo for several years, and this year brought his son, Quentin, along for a visit to Disney.
"We love coming up to ISN, it's a great show," Hammond said. "Everybody's here."
Added show attractions included celebrity appearances, show cars and raffles. An 1,100-hp twin-engined Mini Cooper truck received attention, as did a modified 1934 Ford cabriolet, the hand-painted "Skull King" truck and "The Last Ride" skeleton-themed chopper.
During the course of the show, three vehicles with a total value of $75,000 were given away in raffles; a restored 1968 Ford Mustang, a new Ford F-150 and a Ford Edge. Other prizes included a hot tub and patio package, jewelry, electronics and more. For distributors' families, spa packages were given away and a play area in part of the exhibit hall was a haven for children.
ISN concluded with Saturday evening's annual cocktail hour and awards dinner, and hosted nearly 2,500 guests. Awards were presented to Stateside Sales for Best Spirit, S-K won Most Orders Taken and MAHA International received honors for Best Show Demonstration. Ingersoll Rand took home awards for both Highest Volume and Best in Show.
Visitors to the 2008 ISN Tool Dealer Expo can expect more industry celebs, bigger prizes and more vehicle giveaways, DuBois said. Though not certain on the location, DuBois said the event will most likely remain in Orlando. Appreciative to attendees and vendors alike, Dubois promised to "keep working to make this the biggest and best show in the industry."