Brodie HutchinsMore than two decades have passed since 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 and pavement industries together asphalt producers, contractors, dealers and government officials, 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 resources. AEM is looking forward to bringing the asphalt and pavement industries back together again in Nashville, Tennessee this spring, at World of Asphalt 2022, which is set for March 29-31 the Nashville Music City Center. As this year's show continues to draw near, AEM recently caught up with Brodie Hutchins, vice president of AEM member company and World of Asphalt exhibitor Wirtgen Group, to discuss the value of exhibiting at the show, the excitement surrounding the return of a live-and-in-person World of Asphalt, what he most looks forward to at the show this year, and much more.

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AEM: If you think back to this time a year ago, the vast majority of in-person events and exhibitions were either being postponed to a later date or cancelled altogether. While that didn’t stop organizations like yours from finding unique and effective ways to foster and maintain connections with current and prospective customers, it certainly couldn’t have been easy. What did you take away from that experience, and what tools did you employ to stay connected with your customers in particular?

Hutchins: Microsoft Teams was a tremendously important resource for us, out of necessity more than anything. And I think COVID-19 made people more deliberate about using technology to communicate. For us at Wirtgen, though, we still were in contact with people. Certainly not at larger exhibitions and events, but at smaller gatherings. Whether it was customers coming to us, or us making our way to them, we placed a strong emphasis in finding a way to build and grow those connections.

AEM: It’s been three years since the last in-person World of Asphalt was held. Now that we’ve seen in-person exhibitions and events become the norm again, why do you feel it’s so important to make it back to the show as an exhibitor and have a presence at World of Asphalt 2022?

Hutchins: Well, above all else, World of Asphalt is a convenient way to see a lot of people. There’s a lot of obligation associated with trade shows – and there’s an investment of time, energy, effort and resources into making it a success. But when you get to a show like World of Asphalt, you find a lot of attendees stop by your booth and want to catch up, and that’s great because it affords us the opportunity to hear firsthand from people as to where they think the asphalt and paving industries are headed in the future.

AEM: What are you most looking forward to about World of Asphalt this year? 

Hutchins: Normalcy! Just to be around people and getting back to those personal connections we benefit from at the show.

AEM: Organizations of all types and sizes have been through a lot since the onset of COVID-19 in early 2020. How is your organization trying to make the most out what of in-person networking opportunities like World of Asphalt have to offer?

Hutchins: I don’t think anything any different than picking up where we left off before March 2020. The hugs will be tighter, and the handshakes will be firmer, that’s for sure. COVID-19 has forced us to hit the pause button for a little bit, and now we’re ready to hit play again. This truly is a relationship business, and in-person interactions have been the backbone for the way people communicate with one another for thousands of years. And, after the pause we’ve experienced, it’s going to be refreshing to see everyone again – live and in-person  – in Nashville next month.

AEM: Obviously, your organization has been involved in World of Asphalt for years. With that in mind, if you could give one piece of advice to a first-time exhibitor, or maybe an exhibitor who is looking to get more out of its experience at the show this year, what would that be?

Hutchins: Get out of your booth and take an accurate temperature of the industry. Find out what courses are being taught as part of the education program, and get in touch with NAPA or AEM to provide feedback or suggestions. More than anything else, though, raise your hand and let somebody know you want to help. World of Asphalt is a great place to make connections. So, I think it’s really important for everyone in attendance to try to savor the experience of being back live this year, because the camaraderie at this show is truly second to none.

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, Tennessee. For more information on World of Asphalt, visit www.WorldOfAsphalt.com.

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