Oct. 27, 2021
Aem Logo 2 Color Horizonal Name 1 1 6176ed17ef177

Sometimes it takes reaching a particular milestone to help you realize just how much all the hard work and dedication toward achieving something has truly paid off.

Twenty years ago, AEM and The National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) joined forces with the goal of being able to collaborate in an effort to bring together all stakeholders in the asphalt industry.  The ideal situation included asphalt producers, contractors, dealers and government officials in the asphalt and highway sectors, as well as equipment manufacturers, in the off-years between CONEXPO-CON/AGG trade shows. Today, World of Asphalt is the leading asphalt trade show and conference for those sectors to see the latest and greatest products and technologies, as well as a best-in-class educational resource on issues affecting the asphalt industry.

Registration for World of Asphalt Show & Conference and AGG1 Academy, running March 29-31, 2022, at the Nashville Music City Center in Nashville, Tenn., is officially open. Learn more.

Whether a show is successful or not, or how it grows and evolves for the better, can’t be known without the benefit of experience, hindsight and perspective. And in thinking back to the first World of Asphalt, which debuted in 2001 as a very small show, it’s clear to me now just how fortunate AEM and NAPA were to receive a firm commitment on the part of key stakeholders in the industry to support World of Asphalt in its infancy.

From big-time, competitive OEMs coming together and expressing a willingness to exhibit, to producers and contractors responding to those OEMs by saying, “If you do come together, then we will show up,”  there’s really no overstating the importance of that collective commitment in the show’s earliest days.

However, it took so much more for World of Asphalt to leverage its early momentum and find its footing, where now, two decades later, we find ourselves in the position of commemorating what has become a tremendously successful show and celebrating its 20-year anniversary. Ultimately, it was – and continues to be – the dedication on the part of the entire industry to make the show the gathering place for the asphalt industry that makes World of Asphalt so special.

While some of the faces have changed and the companies have continued to evolve, one thing that hasn’t changed is the goal of providing value to engage and lead the industry. It’s never been about making money for NAPA and AEM, as any revenue returned from the event is put back into the organizations to provide services back to the memberships. In addition, it was at World of Asphalt that OEMs launched the NAPA Cares initiatives. Funds continue to be raised to benefit the families of asphalt personnel who had their ability to work impacted on the job, and It’s things like this that make World of Asphalt a truly best-in-class trade show.

Now, when I consider all of the investments of time, effort and resources put into participating in and holding World of Asphalt, I still find myself amazed to see longtime industry competitors set aside other priorities and overcome key differences to enthusiastically share best practices and communicate a unified message of support for the asphalt industry. So much changes with regards to the show from year to year, but collaboration and cooperation have consistently remained critical components in ensuring World of Asphalt’s ability to maintain both longevity and industry relevance.

Never was that more evident than this past year, when the COVID-19 pandemic led AEM and NAPA to take the educational component of World of Asphalt virtual with the successful run of the People, Plants and Paving Digital Conference. Featuring 62 education sessions and access to the latest industry developments and training, the on-demand format ensured asphalt training professionals could easily benefit from leading-edge educational content and successfully obtain the professional development hours they needed on their own time.

While it was great to see show stakeholders pull together and execute what ended up being a very successful digital conference, I’m sure I’m not alone in looking forward to us all being back together again next year for World of Asphalt and AGG1 Academy in Nashville, Tennessee. Because, if the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s this: While you can push pause on gathering in-person, you simply can’t afford to take it away for too long.

The networking and relationship-building that results from being able to walk a trade show floor, see new and innovative equipment in person, as well as discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the industry, simply can’t be beat. And, in my experience with World of Asphalt in particular, it’s the face-to-face interactions that take place between OEMs, producers and contractors that really drive home just how passionate and excited everyone is to engage and share information with one another.

If you’re not familiar with World of Asphalt, I think that’s what sets us apart from what our competitors can offer in terms of exhibitions and events. The quality of the experience we provide both exhibitors and attendees alike is unmatched, and it’s due in large part to the efforts of those who came together 20 years ago to launch World of Asphalt and lay the foundation for what it is today.

It’s been truly amazing to see the show’s growth and evolution over the last two decades, but by far the most rewarding result of our involvement with World of Asphalt is knowing now, 20 years in, the show is only destined for bigger and better things in the future.

We’ve come so far, and we’ve accomplished so much. There’s still more ahead of us, though. And I, for one, can’t wait to see what’s next.

About World of Asphalt

Held every year except during CONEXPO-CON/AGG years, World of Asphalt is the leading trade show and conference focused on the asphalt and paving industries. The show features the best education, and latest equipment, products, services and technologies for the asphalt and paving industries. The next World of Asphalt, co-located with the AGG1 Academy & Expo, will be held March 29-31, 2022 at the Music City Center in Nashville, Tennesee. For more information on World of Asphalt, visit www.WorldOfAsphalt.com.

Subscribe to the AEM Industry Advisor for more AEM staff perspectives.