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.
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.
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.