Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Love-Fest at AREMA? No Way!

All the work that piled up while I was at the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance of Way Association Conference in Louisville had to be taken care of before I could post, and today it looks like I can, so here goes.

Creosote made a comment to my post made prior to the Conference, referring to the AREMA Event as a "love-fest". His main point was the conflict with the Railway Supply Institute affair, which occurred in Chicago. I asked several people about this, and really got no answer that satisfies. That said, this conflict was only part of more dissatisfaction and frustration then I have ever seen at an AREMA Conference. Love-fest is was not!

The date conflict may have been due to the coordination between AREMA and REMSA for the Trade Show portion of this year's event. You will recall that there have been over the past years a clash of "organization egos" to determine whose show would be where and when. Every year, one or the other group asked suppliers to trot out their exhibits, buy more giveaways, and spend three days hawking their products to an audience that was comprised of fewer and fewer real customers. Suppliers were getting tired and edgy. So, this year was the first "Expo" coordinated by the two rival groups. It could be that the only date they could agree upon created the conflict with the Railway Supply Institute's event.

But more than that, there were real issues from many suppliers who found out that the fee required for the Conference did not allow for attendance to the Expo, unless you happen to work for a Railroad! Consultants and Agency types had to fork over another $150 to $250, depending on whose story you believe. So, many potential customers and contacts decided to go to the Louisville Slugger Museum rather than the Expo. That did not sit well with many suppliers.

In fact, I heard one person mention that their company would not be exhibiting again if more money was required for admission.

One other item, at least two presenters who were scheduled were late for THEIR OWN PRESENTATION! It is hard to take seriously someone's presentation if they don't take it seriously themselves.

On a reaffirming note, all of the suppliers I spoke with confirmed my opinion noted in an earlier post, that production was at a record high, and that future material bids were going to be much higher, if a bid were to be made at all.

Another positive, almost everyone commented on what wonderful hosts the people of Louisville, Kentucky were to the entire group.

However, I have heard rumblings of dissatisfaction with the direction the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance of Way Association is headed, now more than ever. More on that in future posts. The 2006 Conference only seemed to add to the rumblings.


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