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What If They Held a Supply Chain Show and Nobody Came?

April 1, 2020
Several prominent trade shows are shut down due to the COVID-19 crisis.

An empty conference center, barren of exhibitors and no attendees in sight—that’s the nightmare scenario, caused by the worldwide lockdowns and quarantines due to the COVID-19 virus pandemic, that has led to the cancellation of several prominent events of interest to material handling and logistics professionals.

That includes these events:

2020 WERC (Warehouse Education and Research Council) Conference, which was to be held in early May in Providence, RI,

MHEDA (Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association) Convention, another show supposed to run in early May in Orlando.

And even the massive HANNOVER MESSE, which was originally scheduled to be held in April in Hannover, Germany, then rescheduled to July, then ultimately canceled for 2020 entirely.

That’s a lot of thought leadership and technological wizardry that won’t be on display for the world to see at a live event, but given the current lockdown situation affecting just about every corner of the globe, it’s certainly the right thing to do. Last month’s MODEX 2020 show in Atlanta, which got in just under the wire before states began issuing quarantines and travel bans, saw roughly 50% dropoff from pre-registration numbers, so any show planned for April or May was bound to become a casualty of the COVID-19 crisis.

However, there is an upside of sorts to these shows being put on the shelf. In a statement, Annette Danek-Akey, president of the WERC board, and Michael Mikitka, WERC’s CEO, pointed to a compelling reason for behind the cancellation of their annual event: “Taking this action will ensure that our members, who represent a critical element of the supply chain, are available to ensure that people get their products and services, companies deliver on their commitments, and communities are served during this crisis.”

Having the best and brightest minds working diligently to keep the world’s supply chains operating in this most stressing and distressing of times is definitely an idea we can all get behind. And here’s to hoping that the summer and fall shows other organizations have planned will all go on as scheduled.

About the Author

Dave Blanchard | Senior Director of Content

During his career Dave Blanchard has led the editorial management of many of Endeavor Business Media's best-known brands, including IndustryWeek, EHS Today, Material Handling & Logistics, Logistics Today, Supply Chain Technology News, and Business Finance. He also serves as senior content director of the annual Safety Leadership Conference. With over 30 years of B2B media experience, Dave literally wrote the book on supply chain management, Supply Chain Management Best Practices (John Wiley & Sons, 2021), which has been translated into several languages and is currently in its third edition. He is a frequent speaker and moderator at major trade shows and conferences, and has won numerous awards for writing and editing. He is a voting member of the jury of the Logistics Hall of Fame, and is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.

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