Is FMI’s plan to take its spring expo to an every-other-year format an industry trend?
Each September, the first issue ofThe NEWSis usually devoted to the latest developments in supermarket refrigeration. Part of that information comes from the annual spring expo of the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) in Chicago and is published in conjunction with FMI's Energy and Technical Services Conference in the fall.

That will still be the case this September. But as it came time to write this column, a development arose that is changing that equation a bit; and is also reflective of changes in the industry that affect how our readers can find out first hand what's happening in HVACR.

The May 10 issue of the Chicago Tribune had a front-page story on FMI's plan to take its annual spring expo to an every-other-year format starting in 2007 and continuing in odd-numbered years only. The Tribune was especially interested in the fact that with the every-other-year format, the conference would be planned to rotate the expo to other parts of the country; it had been an exclusive Chicago event for many years.

The Chicago convention and tourist bureaus are concerned about the loss of trade show business to places like Las Vegas and Orlando, Fla. But the interesting dynamic for those of us in HVACR is how many trade shows, expos, and even conferences have been or are going to an every-other-year format. Some events have been every other year for a long time, such as the National Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers Expo and the Purdue Compressor and Refrigeration Conference. There are even groups that meet just once every four years, such as the International Congress of Refrigeration. Recently the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society of Canada went to an every-other-year format for its educational conference/expo. (To comply with bylaws, a business meeting is still held every year.)

There are a couple of reasons for the every-other-year approach. The first applies to both expos and conferences and it relates to the cost involved for exhibitors and attendees to commit to events every year.

The second reason relates to how much really new technology might be on display at an expo. There is plenty of new technology every year (one more reason for you to read The NEWS every week), but the creators of such technology may not want to commit to an expo, especially on a yearly basis. At conferences where papers are presented, chances increase for some really new ideas after two or even four years have gone by between conferences. (Again, a weekly newsmagazine can keep you up to speed with ongoing developments in the industry as well as technical information.)

If the trend to every other year continues, that may be good for our readers. The odds increase for new technology at expos and new information at educational conferences. For those in the industry, that should be a strong and cost effective incentive to attend such events.

Peter Powell, Refrigeration Editor, 847-622-7260, 847-622-7266 (fax),

Publication date: 06/05/2006