Walking the Aisles - A Day at the North Central Electrical League's 2023 Electrical Expo

April 21, 2023
NCEL's 2023 Electrical Expo attracted thousands of electrical contractors, distributors, reps, manufacturers and students to the Minneapolis Convention Center.

Exhibitors were pleased with the booth activity aisles at the Upper Midwest Electrical Expo held April 19-20, in Minneapolis. Sponsored by the North Central Electrical League (NCEL), the show is the nation’s largest regional trade show and show and draws electrical contractors, facility maintenance personnel, electrical engineers, students and other electrical professionals from Minnesota, Wisconsin, the Dakotas, Iowa and nearby Midwestern states.This year’s show also offered a robust training curriculum with more than 20 classes on the National Electrical Code. Show organizers said the event topped 275 booths and had  350 electrical manufacturers exhibiting. While final attendance figures are not yet available, it’s expected that the show attendance will easily surpass the numbers the 2021 event, which in a COVID year drew approximately 6,000 attendees. Past Expos have typically drawn between 8,000 to 10,000 attendees. Electrical Wholesaling will update this post with attendance numbers as soon as they are available.

On the Show Floor

Lighting exhibitors were at the show in force, and exhibitors included all of the largest lighting manufacturers (Acuity, Current, LEDVANCE, Lutron and Signify) as well as what had to be several dozens smaller or niche lighting companies. Along with the tool exhibitors, the wire and cable companies seemed most numerous on the show floor and included Southwire, Classic Wire& Cable, Encore Wire, Omni Cable, Priority Wire & Cable Remarcable, Syston Cable and Windsor Wire.

One product group that attracted a lot of attention were EV charging stations, with many electrical manufacturers as well as Tesla (through US Charging) exhibiting. An interesting exhibitor from outside the electrical business was Lillipad, which was promoting an innovative workstation for job sites. The mobile table is loaded with power ports, offers monitor mounted and can be set up / broken down in less than a minute and wheeled around the jobsite on rollers. The Lillipad’s inventor, Colin Dowdle, was at the show with his dad, Jim.

NCEL’s Bus Subsidy Program

One of the keys to this event’s success over the years is the number of distributor-sponsored buses bring electrical contractors and other end used from some surprisingly far distances. This year, NCEL offered distributors bus subsidies ranging from $500 to $1,275. One exhibitor said he spoke with a contractor who had come in by bus from Minot, ND - a six- or seven-hour ride.

Student Day

On the second day of the show the aisles were packed with students from Dunwoody College of Technology and other trade schools, as well as apprentices from area contractors. They seemed particularly interested in the booths of tool exhibitors at the show, including Ideal Industries, Klein Tools, Milwaukee Tool and Wiha Tools.

Job Fair

A new feature at the Expo was a job fair on Student day. Area distributors, contractors and engineering firms had booths in a designated areas of the show floor.

Check EW's photo gallery on NCEL's 2023 Electrical Expo by clicking on the green box on the photo at the top of this post.

About the Author

Jim Lucy | Editor-in-Chief

Over the past 30-plus years, hundreds of Jim’s articles have been published in Electrical Wholesaling and Electrical Marketing newsletter on topics such as the impact of amazonsupply.com and other new competitors on the electrical market’s channels of distribution, energy-efficient lighting and renewables, and local market economics. In addition to his published work, Jim regularly gives presentations on these topics to C-suite executives, industry groups and investment analysts.

He recently launched a new subscription-based data product for Electrical Marketing that offers electrical sales potential estimates and related market data for more than 300 metropolitan areas, and in 1999 he published his first book, “The Electrical Marketer’s Survival Guide” for electrical industry executives looking for an overview of key market trends.

While managing Electrical Wholesaling’s editorial operations, Jim and the publication’s staff won several Jesse H. Neal awards for editorial excellence, the highest honor in the business press, and numerous national and regional awards from the American Society of Business Press Editors. He has a master’s degree in Communications and a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Glassboro State College, Glassboro, N.J. (now Rowan University).