Timothy S. Farrell, president of AHMA
The ongoing battle of the American Hardware
Manufacturers Association vs. Reed Exhibitions, which has been
waged in courtrooms and on trade show floors across the country,
now could be bound for a trial by jury.
After having produced the National Hardware Show together for
27 years in Chicago, AHMA and Reed bitterly parted ways in March
2003, with both organizations vowing
to produce competing hardware events. Adding fuel to the fire, the
Schaumburg, Ill.-based AHMA also filed a lawsuit alleging that
Reed, the Norwalk, Conn.-based trade show producer, used various
accounting tricks to cheat past NHS exhibitors and the trade
On Nov. 29, 2005, senior judge James B. Moran of the U.S.
District Court in Chicago denied the request of Reed’s corporate
parent, Reed Elsevier Inc., and co-defendant Freeman Decorating
Co., NHS’ Dallas-based general contractor, for a summary judgment
in the case.
Judge Moran noted, “At the heart of AHMA’s complaint are
allegations that Reed made secret arrangements with Freeman,
resulting in [AHMA] receiving less revenue than it was due,
exhibitors paying higher prices for their exhibitor costs and
attendance at the hardware show declining sharply.”
The decision to move the case forward pleased AHMA. Low turnout
at the association’s solo hardware show, held at Chicago’s
McCormick Place in 2004, proved disappointing to exhibitors. The
event has since been discontinued. In contrast, Reed’s National
Hardware Show has flourished and is growing.
“We interpret the judge’s ruling denying Reed and Freeman’s
motion for summary judgment to mean he found merit to our claims
based on evidence, including documents and testimony by
affidavits,” said Timothy S. Farrell, president and CEO of AHMA.
“We’ve instructed our lawyers to prepare for a jury trial. They
have not discussed a
But at Reed Exhibitions, which stands as the world’s largest
trade show producer with a hefty portfolio of more than 470 events
in 29 countries, reaction to the ruling understandably was less
“This lawsuit is just going the way most lawsuits go,” said Rob
Cappiello, industry VP with Reed. “No evidence has been presented.
We are still 100 percent confident we will be totally vindicated.
And this is having no impact on the National Hardware Show.”
Indeed, at the NHS’s 2005 show in Las Vegas, exhibitors took up
681,191 square feet of floor space; for this year’s show in
Orlando, Reed predicts that number will swell to 750,000 net square
“I’ve been reading about how the big shows are supposed to be
dead, but this one isn’t,” said Cappiello. “This show is going