Reed’s National Hardware Show
grew in Vegas.
The split between the 104-year-old American
Hardware Manufacturers Association and trade show behemoth Reed
Exhibitions has played out like a vicious divorce with power
After 27 years producing the National Hardware Show together in
Chicago, in March 2003 the two groups bitterly parted ways, laying
the foundation for rival trade shows in spring 2004. Both events
are now history, and the results seem to favor Reed.
Following last year’s rift, each organization staked out its
turf: The Shaumburg, Ill.-based AHMA scheduled a new event in
nearby Chicago, while Norwalk, Conn.-based Reed Exhibitions packed
up its tool show for Las Vegas, to run less than a month later.
But the first of this year’s dueling tool extravaganzas the
AHMA Hardware Show, which ran April 18-20 at Chicago’s McCormick
Place drew just 700 exhibitors and mixed reviews. For some,
attendance was disappointing. “If you’re going to compare it with
previous years, there’s a huge difference, with this one being
tiny,” said Janice Coughlin, a buyer for Plow & Hearth, the
home catalogue based in Madison, Va.
Next, Reed staged its first Las Vegas tool exhibition at the
Sands Expo & Convention Center from May 10-12. The trade show
company, which still owns the National Hardware Show moniker,
called its event a huge success.
"It’s the first time we’ve grown in both square- footage and
exhibitors since 1999,” said Rob Cappiello of Reed Exhibitions’
National Hardware Show. According to Cappiello, the Las Vegas debut
featured 2,300 exhibitors in 483,000 square feet of exhibition
space. Moreover, the 2005 show will span two convention facilities:
the Sands Center and the Las Vegas Convention Center.
In the meantime, a pending federal lawsuit filed by the AHMA,
claiming that Reed used illegal accounting tricks to inflate
charges to past National Hardware Show exhibitors, has further
ratcheted tensions between the ex-partners. “Reed has resorted to
illegal and unethical activity. This lawsuit holds them
accountable,” said Tim Farrell, CEO of the AHMA.
Reed’s Cappiello saw the AHMA’s legal maneuver in a different
light: “I can say the lawsuit is completely without merit, and we
expect to be totally vindicated,” he said.