Tough Times? UCT Thrives In San Antonio

With the backdrop of the nation’s economy in a deep recession and concern of its negative effect on utility construction and rehabilitation projects, the annual Underground Construction Technology International Conference & Exhibition (UCT) held its first show in San Antonio, TX.

Would the dismal economic outlook cut into show attendance as it has at other recent trade events?

For UCT, the answer was a resounding “No.”

By the second day, registration surpassed the number attending the 2008 show, and the final count was a 10.6 percent increase over last year’s event in Atlanta. Exhibitors and delegates praised San Antonio, the convention facility, and liked its proximity to the host hotel. The exhibition included more than 450 exhibits with the famous RehabZone expanded to 8,000 square feet.

“We love the venue here, and the UCT show was the best possible place to unveil our new Digitrak F2 HDD directional drilling locating system,” said, Christian Weise, DCI director of sales and marketing. “Prior to the show, we implemented an intensive introductory advertising campaign that created a lot of enthusiasm and interest in the product and its capabilities, and we had excellent traffic in our booth to see it.”

American Ductile Iron Pipe Co., Birmingham, AL, is a regular UCT exhibitor, said the company’s Ralph Carpenter. “San Antonio is the best show we’ve ever had. We are seeing interest from exactly the people we need to reach.”

San Antonio was the first UCT for Lloyd Gass, manager of the Canadian division of Spiniello Companies, Fairfield, NJ. “The show has been very good,” he said. “I attended seminars throughout the schedule and visited exhibits on the show floor. I’ve seen a lot of interest. We do pipebursting, CIPP and just began manhole rehab. It’s good to see products first hand.”

John Heineie, Southwest Directional Drilling, Casa Grande, AZ, said that he buys most of his company’s equipment. “I’m here shopping,” he said. “It’s a good place to look.”

Vacuworx International, Tulsa, OK, exhibited a new vacuum lift model in San Antonio. Said President Bill Solomon: “UCT brings us the audience that meets our needs and brings us the customers that fit our product line. The new product we brought here is well suited to smaller contractors. We picked up a lot of new business and new customers.”

Exceeding expectations

Jay Miller’s new company, J.T. Miller, Inc., provides drill bits, drill pipe and HDD accessories. “I knew UCT was the place to come to make people in the industry aware of the change,” he said. “But the benefits of being here far exceeded my expectations.”

Said Ray Pavlic, National Liner: “We began exhibiting at UCT soon after we established our business, and have been back ever since. We have had very good traffic to the booth in San Antonio.”

Cosmic Tophat, Torrance, CA, brought its new Eliminator all in one robotic crawler/cutter/video system for reinstating laterals to 2009 UCT. “We always exhibit at UCT – it is one of our best shows,” said Chris Scarrett, chief operating officer. “With the strong focus on rehabilitation and lining technologies, it is a good place to show our new product.”

UCT is the underground construction industry’s premier trade event, focusing exclusively on underground construction. It is the only annual industry event bringing together contractors, utilities, consulting engineers and manufacturers in a true business and educational environment.

In addition to exhibits and the no-sell RehabZone, a show within a show on the exhibit floor, UCT offered a full program of more than 90 educational sessions covering a wide range of underground construction technologies and procedures plus interactive panel discussions.

As in the past, several industry organizations, including NASTT, the Gas Technology Institute, NASSCO and CUIRE, conducted special programs in conjunction with UCT.

UCT is sponsored by Underground Construction, Pipeline & Gas Journal and Pipeline News with the support of corporate, association and academic cosponsors.

The 2010 UCT show will be Jan. 19-21 at the Tampa Convention Center, Tampa, FL.

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