Held within the sprawling Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, GA, this year's UCT show tried on a new location and new hours for size. It wasn't a perfect fit. Transplanted from its traditional location in Texas purportedly due to construction on the convention center , UCT's move to Atlanta was a qualified success.
A few companies scaled back their booth size - both Vermeer and Ditch Witch were in 20'x30' booths, nearly half of their past 40'x40' or 50'x30' spaces. DCI went slightly smaller than usual (20'x20'), compared to 20'x30' last year, though still plenty of room to admire their new Falcon technology. TT Technogies had the largest 40'x40' anchor booth, and they also hosted the reception on the 2nd day of the show. The Rehab Zone dominated the back of the hall, and was well attended, notably on the 1st day. However, there appeared to be remaining open booth space left among the back aisles.
There were 6 drills on the floor.
Vermeer brought it's sleek, super quiet D23x30S3. With its narrow footprint, it's perfect for urban work and markedly more powerful than its D20x22 Series II predecessor.
Ditch Witch had an array of tooling and subsite locators onsite, and were heavily advertising their HDD Advisor website (pretty neat site if you haven't seen it yet). The JT9 was on display, it's their best seller and, unsurprisingly, we see high demand in the used marketplace for it as well.
Toro had a booth with a DD2024 on display. We haven't heard much from Toro from a used perspective, however, Toro is an undoubtedly familiar brand and they have put some thought into their drill design.
Universal squeezed a couple UNI drills into their 20'x40' space near the (completely empty) food court. And TT Technologies had their extremely compact 4x Grundodrill, a well-engineered drill that is priced accordingly. The 2006 model still goes for 30,000 USD or more.
A big cross-section of exhibitors was also present - UCT has become much more diverse in its outlook and reach then when we first starting attending in 2000. Educational seminars and sessions ran in the morning and though I didn't attend any, I heard they were well done, especially the contractors roundtable.
Strangely, the trade show hours ran from 1:30-5:30pm and 12:00pm-6:00pm. Day 1 opening appeared promising and I was pleasantly surprised by the volume of people. Much networking is still done among exhibitors, maintaining UCT's reputation as a premier "vendor-blender" (I just made that word up!). It is the place to hear news about our industry and re-connect with suppliers and specialists. Unfortunately, midway through the 2nd day it was eerily empty; and despite being told to stay until 6:00pm, some smaller exhibitors packed up and left early.
The feedback I heard was that the late trade show hours weren't well received. Personally, I found it challenging to organize my trip around the show hours. I had to stay an extra night because I wasn't able to resolve the odd logistics of an 11:00am checkout and finding a flight after 6pm.
Bottom line - Despite the 2nd day dip in attendance, the benefit of the trip certainly outweighed the investment to be there. With an armful of brochures and an earful of industry news (plus a free pen and 2 koozies), I say this trip was worthwhile. Will I go to Fort Worth, TX next year? Absolutely.