Boat Show Equals Big Winner at the Big Party

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Boats, pharmaceuticals and AV events take top TSW Fastest 50 honors
November 12, 2007
By Stephanie Corbin and Rachel Wimberly — Tradeshow Week

When CMTA Hartford Boat & Fishing Show was announced as the overall fastest growing show during the Nov. 3 gala dinner at the fifth annual Tradeshow Week Fastest 50 event in Atlanta, Grant Westerson was speechless.

But he soon found his voice.

“I have no idea what to say,” said the executive director of the Connecticut Marine Trades Assn. after he accepted his award. “I’m very, very happy.”

The comment echoed statements he’d made earlier when he mounted the stage to accept the award for the fastest-growing consumer-hybrid show.

“I’m very proud to have been invited this weekend,” Westerson said.

The show’s phenomenal growth – from 68,000 net square feet and 110 exhibiting companies in 2005, to 155,000 net sq. ft. and 200 exhibiting companies in 2006 – qualified it for the first time as a TSW Fastest 50 show, and scored it two of the top honors at the event.

Westerson attributed the show’s growth to its move from the Hartford Civic Center to the Connecticut Convention Center, a 540,000 sq. ft. venue that opened in 2005. He thanked his staff and that of the Connecticut Convention Center for their support.

But CMTA Hartford Boat & Fishing Show wasn’t the only first-time qualifier to take home a top award.

INTERPHEX Puerto Rico, a TSW Fastest 50 winner in the first year it was eligible to apply – shows need three years of data to demonstrate growth – also took home a top honor: the fastest-growing trade event award.

“Viva Puerto Rico!” said Kevin Richards, vice president for brand development of INTERPHEX at Reed Exhibitions, as he accepted his award.

When asked about the first thought that entered his head as he heard his show had won, Richards said, “My first reaction was that the team that I work with is wonderful, and I wish they could have been here.” He added, “We’re not Puerto Ricans by birth, but we’re Puerto Ricans by choice.”

The show nabbed the award because of its 392.7-percent growth since its launch in 2004. It went from 8,576 net sq. ft. and 127 exhibiting companies the first year, to 42,250 net sq. ft. with 289 exhibiting companies in 2006.

“I have a lot of people to call,” Richards said, after those sharing his table at the gala dinner toasted INTERPHEX’s victory. “It’s going to be late in Puerto Rico, but I’m going to call them all (tonight).”

When TSW Fastest 50 gala master of ceremonies Erica Hill, a CNN news anchor, began describing the audiovisual industry leading up to the award for the fastest growing association show, Mike Doolittle, the director of sales for InfoComm Intl., guessed she might be talking about the same-named show, InfoComm Intl.

Doolittle accepted the award for show manager Jason McGraw, who could not attend.

“Thank you very much; I’m very flattered,” Doolittle said when he received the award. “We’ve had a great run, and we hope to participate for years to come.”

After leaving the stage, Doolittle said he had no idea that the audiovisual show would prove to be tops in its category.

In 2006, InfoComm Intl. drew 770 exhibitors to a 432,602 net sq. ft. showfloor at Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center. McGraw previously has predicted even more growth in 2008, with about 950 exhibitors on a 475,000 net sq. ft. showfloor when his show consolidates with the Natl. Systems Contractors Assn.’s NSCA Expo 2008, and collocates with NXTcomm at the Las Vegas Convention Center June 14-20. NXTcomm is co-owned by the Telecommunications Industry Assn. and the USTelecom Assn.

“(There will be) one show where people can get to see everything,” Doolittle said.

Other events of the TSW Fastest 50 weekend included Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue kicking off the event at the opening night reception at the World of Coca-Cola and keynote speaker Bernic Marcus, co-founder of The Home Depot, at the second day’s luncheon at the Georgia World Congress Center.