It was off to a promising start...
This year's UCT exhibition returned to Houston, TX after the last few years saw it in places such as Tampa, FL and San Antonio, TX. Upon first impression, the show looked like it was going to be the best in years. It was much larger, and vendors that had previously abandoned the show had returned to exhibit once more.
Unfortunately, it turned out to somewhat less than astounding.
Attendance (at least from our perspective) was the lowest it had been in memory. I sincerely hope that it was a case of contractors being too busy to attend, as the general feeling within the industry is one of optimism. Whatever the reason, the number of bona fide contractors walking the show was very low. UCT did, however, turn out to be an excellent opportunity to network with other vendors in an industry-specific (if somewhat expensive) venue.
Some noteworthy highlights:
HDD Broker was asked again this year to present a seminar on the Used HDD Industry. The presentation was an hour long and it was very well attended with over forty interested contractors. I touched on a large number of issues including where to get drills from, what to look for, pricing trends, top sellers, and my own 2011 Industry Forecast.
Ditch Witch showed off their newly acquired line of Hammerhead tools. Ditch Witch recently purchased the company in a surprise move that left Hammerhead's previous partner, Vermeer Manufacturing, agast. Their new JT100AT machine took center stage.
Vermeer took the opportunity to showcase their new line of Armor Downhole Tooling. This new line features interchangeable heads and heavy duty construction. It certainly looked like a serious piece of engineering and if it cuts ground half as well as it looks like it should, the new line should sell very well. Also introduced was Vermeer's new line of quick connects with sturdier threads and a four revolution make up. Gone are the days of the rolled pins and the dinky flat threads.
Universal showcased their new 100x120 directional drill. The company has certainly come a long ways in five years. The new drill looked far more polished, and the two-person cab was extremely impressive.
Despite the networking opportunities present at the show, I have a bad feeling that UCT is dying a slow and terrible death. With such poor attendance this year, I would be very surprised to see it back in the same manner next year. At least two major manufacturers that I talked with have no plans to revisit. In all likelihood we'll see UCT start occurring every two years, perhaps opposite the much larger ICUEE Exhibition in Kentucky.
If you're in the area, the upcoming No-Dig Show in Washington, DC takes place March 27th to 31st this year. It looks to be very promising thus far. I can only hope the weather warms up a bit before we arrive!