A Look at the 2023 Loggers' Expo
by Erin Kessler
In late May, the annual Loggers’ Expo (Northeastern Forest Products Equipment Expo) returned to Bangor, making it the 19th time it has been hosted by the Northeastern Loggers’ Association in Maine’s largest commercial center. The 2023 show represented a giant step towards the pre-COVID-19 shows that the industry has enjoyed for decades.
The historic Bass Park and the modern Cross Insurance Center hosted 181 exhibiting companies that were spread out over 260,000 square feet of outside exhibit space as well as inside the Cross Arena and Concourse. Exhibitors promoted their products and services to an enthusiastic crowd of loggers, truckers, saw millers, and others who make their living in the Northeast’s forest products industry.
Visitors enjoyed outdoor displays of logging and wood processing equipment – skidders, forwarders, feller bunchers, log truck trailers, firewood processors, mulchers, dry kilns, and more. We were lucky enough to experience sunny and breezy conditions during the two-day show. Indoors, representatives from a variety of companies and organizations, from log yards, flooring manufacturers, tire and hydraulics companies, to organizations like the American Loggers Council, Maine Forest Products Council, and Master Logger Certification Program greeted attendees, presented their products and services, and caught up with old friends in the industry.
Attendees also enjoyed seminar presentations by Steven Bick, who spoke about professional development for forest business owners and his Vermont Forest Business School, and economist Eric Kingsley who presented “Forest Products Markets & Supply Chain – Where Are We?”
Several exhibitors reported significant sales during the Expo. One exhibitor observed, “Most of the stuff we brought to the show was already sold, but we’re happy not to have to drag a single thing back home. The show was very good for us.” Another reported, “The crowd was stronger and more positive than I’ve seen in a couple of years.” An inside exhibitor was very enthusiastic, “It was great to see so many old friends come out of the woods for the show this year.”
While it’s tough to get a good read on attendance during the show, there were multiple times when the Arena featured wall-to-wall people and there were steady crowds at the Weiler Log Loading contest and at outside food vendors. One inside exhibitor enthusiastically remarked “This looks like a record crowd for the show!” while another exhibitor exclaimed, “It’s pretty lonely out here – where are the people?”
“The quality of the attendee we’re attracting to the Loggers’ Expo is always the real story here, not just the numbers. The region’s forest products economy is in a very challenging period right now, so we’re very happy to welcome over 180 exhibiting companies and a crowd of over 5,000 people,” said show manager Joe Phaneuf. Nearly two-thirds of those who attended the Expo were decision-makers in their company.
Room For Improvement
Phaneuf noted that the Loggers’ Expo fell short of perfection this year. “While parking always presents a challenge at the Bangor venue, this year we also had an issue at the entrance where some people waited in line for more than 45 minutes. That’s just not acceptable, and I apologize to everyone who had to wait. Fortunately, this should be an easy fix for the 2025 show: we plan to add more data entry workers to keep things moving briskly at the entrance. In addition, many people waiting in line recognized the benefits of pre-registration. Pre-registered attendees were able to bypass the lines and get into the show with minimal wasted time. We will work harder to communicate the benefits of online pre-registration and beef up our ability to get lots of people registered quickly and efficiently.”
NELA is looking forward to next year’s Loggers’ Expo in Essex Junction, Vermont on May 3-4, 2024.
GO TO NORTHERNLOGGERPODCAST.COM TO HEAR SELECT INTERVIEWS WITH EXHIBITORS AND ATTENDEES OF THE 2023 LOGGERS’ EXPO.