Caterpillar’s Phil Kelliher Remarks on the Value of In-person Exhibitions and Events Like CONEXPO-CON/AGG

SOURCE: AEM | August 18, 2022

As next year’s show continues to draw near, AEM caught up with Phil Kelliher, CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2023 Show Chair and senior vice president at AEM member company Caterpillar, to discuss the value of participating in the show, what he looks forward to most about CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2023, and what Caterpillar has in store for attendees when they arrive in Las Vegas next March.

AEM: How has your tenure as CONEXPO-CON/AGG Chair been thus far for you?

Kelliher: We’ve all been through so much during the three years since our industry last got together in Las Vegas at CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2020. There have been many challenges along the way, but I believe we’re extremely well-positioned for success from a timing standpoint, and we’re glad to see the industry encouraged and excited about getting back together in-person at CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2023.

AEM: What are you and your colleagues at Caterpillar looking forward to most about CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2023? 

Kelliher: CONEXPO-CON/AGG is the largest show in our industry in North America, and it’s always a show in which Caterpillar is excited to participate. More than anything else, CONEXPO-CON/AGG gives us an opportunity to connect with so many customers in one location and in a short period of time. Our customers are the reason we’re in business.   Spending time with them is really important to us. This show in particular helps us make a lot of those meaningful customer connections.

AEM: We’ve seen industry exhibitions and events evolve. In what ways has Caterpillar evolved to help ensure it gets the most out of their investment in shows like CONEXPO-CON/AGG?

Kelliher: Even prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Caterpillar had been examining digital experiences and offerings, as well as in-person events. Once the pandemic arrived, that work really accelerated. We invested in more robust processes, content and methodology in order to make sure that digital experience complementing a show is really powerful. We’ve done that all over the world, it’s certainly been well-received, and it’s led to a lot of success for us.

AEM: CONEXPO-CON/AGG is such a uniquely valuable opportunity that brings construction professionals together for what is the industry’s largest North American trade show. What does it mean to Caterpillar to participate in that event, and what should the industry expect to see from Caterpillar at the show?

Kelliher: CONEXPO-CON/AGG is such a key show for us globally, that we — to some extent — structure some of our product technology and development around the event as a way to launch our messaging. I think you’ll see a number of product, services and technology announcements, as well as releases that coincide with the show to share our latest offerings for the construction industry.

AEM: If you could provide one piece of advice for a prospective attendee who is considering whether to register for CONEXPO-CON/AGG right now, what would it be and why?

Kelliher: CONEXPO-CON/AGG continues to make a significant investment in educational opportunities for attendees. During my time as Show Chair, AEM has focused on making sure we continue to develop those offerings. From personal connections and feedback directly from customers in the past, there’s typically enormous value from those education sessions. That’s something I’d point out to anyone who is thinking about coming and isn’t sure yet – explore the education programs and see what’s available to you.

As for the overall show, it’s very, very big. At times, it can even seem overwhelming. I would encourage attendees to think about their most critical questions or biggest challenge right now, and then look at how they could possibly gain access to the key exhibitors to address those areas. CONEXPO-CON/AGG is a fantastic environment to be able to connect with people and gain valuable insights in a quick and efficient way.

AEM: What industry trends do you think attendees will be able to find answers to, or information about, at CONEXPO-CON/AGG?

Kelliher: There are two that come to my mind, relative to our business at Caterpillar. First is the continued evolution of technology, and how we continue to evolve that technology to provide more and more assistance to a contractor. Whether that’s making a machine easier to operate, trying to make an average operator a skilled one, or even all the way to autonomous equipment, where we can actually have the machine do some of the work itself.

The other trend  for Caterpillar and the industry to keep top-of-mind is alternative energy sources  — how the industry is going to evolve relative to working toward a lower-carbon future and  what we can do to  help our customers meet their climate-related objectives.

AEM: Why is it so important for your exhibitors and prospective exhibitors to make their presence known at CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2023?

Kelliher: CONEXPO-CON/AGG reaches a global audience. A large part of the people will be from North America, which is an important region for us. This is an opportunity to connect with a significant portion of it. It’s an investment – it takes time, effort and resources to reach our customers across North America. The ability to make meaningful connections to a large portion of the industry in one week, and get a consistent message across to the industry, is very valuable. For Caterpillar, that makes CONEXPO-CON/AGG a valuable investment.

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