AXPONA Acquired by JD Events
In what may be a record period for audio show acquisitions. Connecticut-based trade show company JD Events has acquired AXPONA (Audio Expo North America). The announcement follows on the heels of UK-based The Chester Group's announcement that it has bought Montreal's Salon Son et Image, and gotten out of the way of AXPONA Chicago by moving its New York Show to a fall date in Brooklyn.
In its own words, JD Events "is dedicated to the creation of targeted and innovative industry-leading events that deliver results. The company brings together highly qualified buying audiences, education-rich content and high-level networking opportunitiesall geared toward increasing business transactions in the markets it serves."
The company claims that its staff has over 200 years of combined trade show, conference and publishing experience. (Its CEO, Joel Davis, is coincidentally the former President of Primedia/Intertec Exhibitions, with Primedia being the former owner of Stereophile.) The organization's current shows, which focus on communications, technology and healthcare, include Contents and Communications World (CCW) in New York City, the simultaneous SATCON Satellite and Content Delivery Conference and EXPO, Customer Engagement Technology World in New York City, and the Healthcare Facilities Symposium & Expo in Chicago. With all four shows taking place in October and November, JDE should have plenty of time to gear up for AXPONA 2014, which takes place at Chicago's newly remodeled Westin O'Hare on April 2527.
Although Joel Davis was unavailable at press time, Steve Davis (no relation), who has shepherded AXPONA from Florida, Atlanta, and New York City to what will be its second year in Chicago, spoke with Stereophile about the implications of the acquisition.
Davis revealed that he has spent the six months negotiating the acquisition, which he instigated. "A show of the magnitude that AXPONA was growing into simply can't be managed by a company that only consists of a few people," he said. "My main goal is ensure that the quality and integrity of the event is maintained as it grows. This acquisition will separate AXPONA out from the crowd, and make it a world-class event."
Perhaps reflecting JD Events' primary focus, AXPONA will preface the audio show with a dealer/manufacturer meeting, banquet and presentation on Wednesday, April 23, 2014. Described in the press release as "a new major component directed at industry professionals looking to establish long-term and meaningful relationships," Steve Davis says it will connect dealers and manufacturers in ways that will stimulate new business." Free to dealers who are exhibiting at AXPONA, and open for a fee to dealers who are not exhibiting, the event is designed to bring them together with manufacturers who are exhibiting at AXPONA.
Although the show will retain its name, AXPONA, and Steve Davis intends to play "a very big role" for at least a few years, he expects the show to expand beyond Chicago, as well as into a lot of other areas that are technology-based: "We expect at least 5075% growth for 2014, primarily from high-end audio companies and others in the electronics industry. But that's the tip of the iceberg."
Even as the ice on Lake Michigan begins to solidify, Steve Davis has already sold 75 rooms for 2014, including all 25 large exhibit spaces/meetings that are sonically suitable for active exhibits. By the time the show opens, he projects 125150 dedicated exhibit rooms and additional booth displays, attracting 60008000 attendees
These projections, as well as the show's future expansion into other areas, remain to be seen. For now, Steve Davis assures me that the Westin Convention Center and Hotel has been completely remodeled. He claims no airwalls between large sound roomsonly solid wallsand commodious "standard" hotel rooms that are 14'10" wide and 18' long, with 8'9" ceilings on two floors and 12' ceilings on the 12th floor. He also promises that a room treatment company from Chicago proper will offer even more room treatment to exhibitors than was available in 2013.
I could go on about the escalators and 5 elevators that should make navigation easy for audiophiles, or the most expensive system ever shown at a US show, a Mark Waldrep AIX 5.1 spectacular that will include German Physiks' $500,000 Emperor speaker system and Vitus amplification. But that, and the realization of a new vision for AXPONA, will have to wait for the next article.