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How the ACT Expo became trucking’s ‘big splash’

May 10, 2023

Source: Freightwaves

Over its dozen years, the ACT Expo has defied the trajectory of many industry trade shows. A comfortable, easygoing affair in Southern California’s Long Beach Convention Center outgrew its venue in 2022, when 8,000 attendees packed the house. A lack of hotel space drove expo-goers to stay miles away.

Show organizer TRC (formerly GNA) moved to Anaheim this year, soaking up rooms in hotels along Katella Avenue, where mouse ear-wearing Disneyland-bound guests push strollers toward the park.

As the attendance climbed above 12,000 on the third day, Erik Neandross explained that the expo is almost a side business for the 105-person consultancy that helps fleets manage compliance with California’s ever-toughening pollution regulations.

‘Let’s dial this up a little bit’

“Prior to ACT Expo, we had run a number of regional shows here in Southern California given the focus and activity around alternative fuels,” Neandross told me. “In 2011, we started to see more national activity. We said, ‘Hey, let’s dial this up a little bit,’ and we launched ACT Expo.”

From 2011 through 2018, the expo was “pretty heavy” on natural gas trucks. TRC (formerly GNA) snagged then Daimler Trucks North America CEO Martin Daum and since-retired Ryder System Inc. CEO Greg Swienton as first-year keynote speakers. TRC had written the grant for 260 natural gas trucks from DTNA to be sold to Ryder System Inc.

“It’s a little easier to get ’em when you sell 260 natural gas trucks. And off we went,” Neandross said. “The electric crowd back then was: ‘I’m not going to that show. It’s just a natural gas truck show.’ And now, of course, the natural gas guys are: ‘Nah, it’s just an electric truck show.’

“I just put the sign out on the front door. Who shows up? I don’t control that.”

Neandross described the move to Las Vegas in 2024 as “a baby toe in the water” before returning to Anaheim in 2025, when the expo won’t have to share the venue with a nursing convention like it did this year.

“We could have filled it this year, but we could only get half the halls,” Neandross said. “We had a wait list [for exhibitors].”

Continue reading on Freightwaves.

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