Conference call: Are trade shows and exposition a good marketing tool?

Trade shows mean long hours spent on your feet engaging visitors in conversation and always keeping eye contact, drawing people to your booth and selling your product. Are they worth the time and energy?

Yes, said three vendors at the Easter Washington Ag Expo who spent two days at TRAC in Pasco showcasing their company’s products and services to nearly 2,000 farmers, ranchers and orchardists.

Randy Stober, Mountain Hi Truck and Equipment

Randy Stober,
Mountain Hi Truck and Equipment

For Randy Stober, a sales manager for Mountain Hi Truck and Equipment of Walla Walla, the hour-long drive over on slick January roads was well worth it.

“I’ve been coming for the past five years and always see a lot of our customers coming through,” he said. “Also, I can usually generate some new ones or at least get people interested in making the drive to Walla Walla to see what we have to offer in trucks, trailers and service.”

Stober said foot traffic during the Ag Expo was pretty good.

“I’ve already met three pretty good sales prospects,” he said, during the morning session of the Expo’s first day, adding that people seem to be coming in bursts.

Stober has worked for Mountain Hi for nine of the 12 years the company’s been in business. He also attends the Spokane Agricultural Show and the Tulare World Ag Expo in California, which is one of the largest on the West Coast.
“But this one, besides being closer to home, always draws a good crowd,” Stober said.

Gary Ballew, Port of Pasco

Gary Ballew,
Port of Pasco

That’s the same opinion held by Gary Ballew, director of economic development and marketing for the Port of Pasco.
Also speaking during the first morning of the Expo, Ballew said he’d had a steady stream of people at his booth.

“Despite the iffy January weather people usually take the chance to come on out to the Expo. They’re farmers and ranchers. They have four-wheel drives,” he said.

Ballew said the Port wasn’t trying so much to drum up business at the expo, but rather do outreach — making people aware of what a Port does and what we have to offer, he said.

“We’re here to let people know how we can help with issues from transportation to marketing and manufacturing contacts for the agricultural industry. We’re a lot more than just boats and water. Economic diversity is our primary function,” Ballew said.

Growing economic diversity in Adams County is Stephen McFadden’s primary function and the reason he made the trip to the Eastern Washington Ag Expo in January.

Stephen McFadden, Adams County

Stephen McFadden,
Adams County

“I come to trade shows like this and too many people, even people from the Tri-Cities, have no idea where Adams County is even though we share a border with Franklin County,” said McFadden, Adams County’s economic development director.
McFadden’s goal is to change that and develop relationships among Eastern Washington counties, the Ports and other economic organizations.

“We’re all rural counties with agriculture as one of our primary sources of income. We need to work together and attending shows like the Expo is one of or primary sources to make contacts and build relationships,” he said.

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