LOUISVILLE, Ky.-More than 5,365 people-including a record 246 trade show exhibitors-took part in the 37th ARA World Tire Conference & Exhibition, April 21-23 in Louisville. Officials of the American Retreaders' Association, sponsor of the conference, attributed the show's 6.8-percent increase in attendance over last year, at least in part, to an improved economy and pent-up demand in the tire retreading and recycling industries served by the annual event.
``People are more confident. They came and spent money,'' said ARA President Michael W. Berra.
He said international visitors-many interested in the retreading portion of the conference-accounted for 16 percent of the event's non-exhibitor attendance. Non-U.S.-based companies also made up 5 percent of the trade show's exhibitors. In all, some 52 countries were represented.
Mr. Berra also pointed to the show's sizable array of new products-particularly those used in mold-cure retreading, which seemed particularly prominent. Oliver Rubber Co., Marangoni Technologies, Italmatic-Pro, Patch Rubber Co. and Associated Rubber Co. were among those debuting such products.
``Anybody who says there was nothing new at Louisville didn't see the same show I saw,'' Mr. Berra said.
Tire recycling also played a more prominent role this year, with 69 companies accounting for 28 percent of the exhibitor total.
ARA tire recycling consultant Mary Sikora said makers and marketers of scrap tire processing equipment still constitute the majority of those exhibiting in the show's tire recycling section.
However, exhibitors stressing end-uses of processed scrap tires-particularly tire-derived crumb rubber-are beginning to exhibit as well.
The trade show occupied some 108,778 square feet of the newly remodeled south wing of the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center, where it has been held each year since its inception in 1958.
In terms of square footage, the trade show was slightly smaller than last year. However, Mr. Berra said the event's overall success proves the association made the right decision in keeping the conference in Louisville for at least the next four years.