REFLECTIONS ON 2017 MID-AMERICA TRUCKING SHOW
Attending a world renowned trucking industry trade show like the Mid- America Trucking Show ( MATS) in Louisville, Kentucky was a real eye opener for a first time attendee like myself.
Having attended many large expositions of this sort since early childhood, both here in Canada as well as the U. S., one mistakenly comes to the conclusion that this show will be big, but until you actually get there and start walking, it is impossible to even imagine the scope and range of participants in this 46th annual event.
My father first attended this event in 2015 and marveled at the sheer size of the venue and the displays. He did not attend in 2016, since the Original Equipment Manufacturers ( OEM’S) scaled back their involvement. We resolved that in 2017, we would go as a two person team of writer and photographer. Properly seeing and covering the show in one day is not possible.
This year, Peterbilt, Kenworth and Mack were back with large displays, as well as Western Star with a smaller display than in 2015, but well represented nonetheless. Most of the OEM’S favour an odd year schedule for their participation, since the industry show in Hanover, Germany, is held on an even year schedule. Having something new and innovative to display every year does not happen in the heavy truck industry, making it difficult for the manufactures to see an economic justification for their participation.
Volvo and Navistar ( International Trucks) were absent. Freightliner Team Run Smart represented the brand with a display.
Ford showed their fleet of commercial vehicles and had a fun interactive contest for show attendees.
All of the major trailer manufacturers had large displays, necessitated by the sheer size of the offerings on display. Hyundai Translead, Utility, Mac Trailers, Fruehauf and East Manufacturing were among the many trailer manufacturers on hand. Keith Manufacturing showed their innovative walking floor technology, used by many trailer manufacturers to make trailer loading and unloading faster, safer and more practical.
Canada was well represented by Manac Trailers and Stargate Manufacturing with displays showing that trailers made in Canada do compete with the best offerings in the marketplace worldwide.
Aftermarket and OEM suppliers such as Alcoa Wheels, Allison Transmissions, Bendix, Borg-warner, Bosch, Cummins, Delco-remy, Hendickson, Ridewell Suspensions and Wabco were some, but certainly not all players in that segment on display.
Quality tires are a major expense to the trucking industry given the crumbling infrastructure and road surfaces in North America, so the tire manufacturers had large displays highlighting their latest offerings. B.F. Goodrich, Continental, Cooper, Falken, Goodyear, Hankook, Kumho, Sumitomo, Uniroyal and many lesser known brands were represented.
Tool and Repair Equipment Manufacturers were well represented. Gray Manufacturing, for example, had a very large display highlighting their equipment. The hand operated lifting tools and stands, hoists and portable heavy vehicle lifts on display showed that North American products built to a high standard are amongst the best in the world. Over eighty exhibitors represented this segment of the trucking industry.
Safety equipment suppliers, parts suppliers, paint suppliers, lubricant, additive and sealant manufacturers, filter manufacturers, truck lighting manufacturers, truck stop operators, insurance companies specializing in providing transportation industry coverage, logistics firms, financial service providers, trucking industry recruiters and just about anything else related to the trucking industry is at MATS. There were a large number of truck tuning and customizing vendors.
Shows of this nature constantly evolve and MATS is no different. In 2016, when the OEM’S did not attend due to the high cost of their involvement as well as the economic difficulties in the trucking industry, the show adapted. This year, most of the manufacturers returned, but there were, according to my father, many more restored trucks and vintage vehicles on display. These trucks were of real interest to show goers.
There was even a 1975 Dodge with
175 miles on the odometer. It is now owned by the son of the dealer who originally sold the vehicle. The vehicle is exactly as it was manufactured with only the patina of 42 years of storage changing its original appearance.
As a Mechanical Engineering Technologist who owns three class eight trucks and does all the repairs necessary to keep them running safely, I found that the representatives of the companies with booths at the show could answer the very in depth questions I asked them. Simply put, they knew their stuff!
Although the 1.2 million square foot show is an intimidating challenge to complete without a comfortable pair of shoes, my overall takeaway from this experience is that the show was much larger and better than I had envisioned. It was certainly worth the nine hour driving time from the Toronto area.
It is impossible to include all participants with booths and displays in this summary. Any omissions were due to space limitations for this article.
If you are a person with any interest in the trucking industry, visiting this show at least once is an item that should be on your bucket list.
ALL PICTURES BY : HANS JANZEN