The Industry Pulse

Build it and they will come. While this prediction has not been true for every exhibition aimed at our industry, it certainly has been true for Waste Expo.

Unquestionably North America's largest solid waste trade show, Waste Expo has become a ritual for thousands of private contractors. Some say it is a bellwether that predicts the times to come - or is it?

At last year's Expo, I felt a growing sense of confidence among the attendees and exhibitors. At the end of the show, some predicted that we were turning the corner on the recession.

Was the mood at the show a good indicator of the next 12 months?

A lot of sludge has gone under the dam since then. In the past year, noticeable realignments have occurred among the larger private contractors; the industry has fallen from favor in the stock market, even while the Dow has been zooming toward 4,000; two relatively new waste industry trade shows have closed; local governments have been re-evaluating waste operations such as landfills; and even the industry's association that owns Waste Expo has significantly reorganized.

What's the good news? When you think about it, with one exception (the stock market), the events mentioned above could represent the final gasp of the recession. It reminds me of dusting off, tucking in your shirttail and taking stock after you've been knocked to the ground.

Notice that I used words like "realign, re-evaluate and reorganize." There were no genuine defeats, except for the two failed trade shows, who unfortunately misjudged the timing and started their exhibitions just as the country was lunging headlong into its worst economic crisis in years.

As for the stock market, consider what it really know about the waste industry. Normally it deals in digits and expectations and, because the current market gurus are not pleased with the anticipated margins at some of our top firms, they are backing away. Maybe it's time to buy.

My guess is that Waste Expo 1994 will be strong and successful. Looking at the exhibitor list (which you will find in our Show Section beginning on page 79), manufacturers or suppliers are not lacking confidence in our industry.

On a personal note, this Waste Expo issue of World Wastes is the most successful in 10 years.

Do I see great times ahead if Waste Expo lives up to my expectations? Not exactly. I see an industry continuing to adjust to the internal and external forces shaping (and reshaping) its directions.

So, right about the time the industry thinks it can control that stream, something like flow control will enter the picture, generate confusion and general pandemonium, and either settle into place or go away. Just like everything else in our industry.