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 opportunities—all 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 25–27.

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 50–75% 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 125–150 dedicated exhibit rooms and additional booth displays, attracting 6000–8000 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 rooms—only solid walls—and 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.

Audio Legend's picture

Who cares?

[flame deleted by John Atkinson]

corrective_unconscious's picture

18" long?

Obviously a small typo....

John Atkinson's picture

Thanks for the eagle eyes.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

Audio Legend's picture

18 inches? You could fit in one of those hip "desktop systems" that I have heard about but never seen in anyone's house.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

A second thank you from moi. I've been putting off cataract surgery pending our house sale and move. Not that I wouldn't make such a typo regardless... 

jmsent's picture

No knock on JVS reporting about these show management changes. It's his job. But I do have to wonder how relevant all this sausage making is to your average Joe who just wants to go see some cool audio gear without big money or hassles. I have no idea of JD Events and their capabilities. The exhibitions they manage seem to be trade events, but I suppose that a lot of this experience is transferrable to a consumer show. All that said, the show that consistently gets highest marks from both exhibitors and consumers is RMAF. And that show is largely run by a group of audio enthusiasts, not show professionals. It seems to me that no degree of professional show management is going to address the bigger problem: that these shows are multiplying like rabbits, to the point they are now conflicting with one another and diluting each other. And clearly, this seems to be having an impact, if the show reports are to be believed. Flat or lighter attendance than the previous year, key exhibitors not there, etc. Even RMAF is feeling it.  IMO, the guys in Europe got it right: Go to Munich, and you're done. It's expensive, but it's growing like crazy because it's grabbed all the momentum. Meanwhile over here, we're all spread out, trying to turn the marketing of high end into "Brother Love's Travelling Salvation Show" I don't see how this formula can be sustained, given the highly limited financial and human resources of many, if not most, of the high end industry. I realize that local shows are a great convenience for the attendees. But how much longer will they keep coming if half or more of their favorite companies don't even show up at the regional show?

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

Not really. When I spoke with Marjorie less than a week ago for my show preview (coming imminently), she told me she had three less rooms than last year in the Marriott. But she also has three rooms in the Hyatt. So RMAF is holding, in no small part because people love the energy of the show. In fact, given the quality of the entertainment, the number of seminars, and the size of its CANJAM, I'd say RMAF is growing richer and thriving.

Whether the close proximity of the New York Metropolitan area, i.e. Brooklyn and RMAF shows in 2014 will have a negative effect on RMAF remains to be seen. Personally, I doubt it.

Now, as to whether this consolidation will affect the "average Joe," whoever she may be, it will if AXPONA evolves from an audio show to a multi-technology show. In what ways it will affect Joe, and either enrich high-end audio or subsume it, remain to be seen. It will also affect Ms. Average if Sarah Tremblay's expertise enriches the Formerly in New York show.

audiocaptain's picture

I won't get going on where the future is for shows other than to say go to an Audio Show near you. If you love equipment and music and you want to meet the people in the industry and have a great time - just do it. 

Audio nut's picture

here in the Chicago area. For years, I (like many) have yearned for a show like this and finally earlier this year I was able to attend. Can't wait for next years show. Will be sure to bring some of my own music.