"In the midst of industry discussions regarding the necessity and cost effectiveness of so many trade shows, Eljer decided to make a bold statement to its fellow manufacturers, valued customers as well as trade show organizers," Eljer said in a statement.
"We know there are other manufacturers that would like to make this move," said Jim Harris, Eljer's president. "We decided to be a leader. Our plan is to alternate our attendance between the North American Expo this October and K/BIS beginning in 2001. This will enable us to have a strong industry presence while consolidating our efforts into one major event a year." He declined to comment further.
"That is not the message we got from Eljer," said Sue Palmer, K/BIS show manager at Miller Freeman. "We were told they wanted to put their marketing dollars into other areas, including home centers. We respect Eljer's right to its opinion."
Miller Freeman has participated in ongoing talks about trade show consolidation, Palmer said. "The feedback we get from most manufacturers and attendees is that they want an annual show. Attendance has been increasing every year, and this year will be our largest show ever."
Appliance companies have increased their exhibit space in this year's K/BIS, she said. Plumbing manufacturers have reserved about the same space as in prior years, if not more. For example, Jacuzzi has increased its display space, she said.
Moen will be at K/BIS this year but continues to evaluate its trade show participation, said Linda Mayer, senior vice president/marketing and product development, and also this year's president of the Plumbing Manufacturers Institute.
"Eljer is making a point," she said. "It's a top priority to us to resolve this situation to benefit builders, wholesalers and manufacturers. If our only choice is to act independently, I don't see that as a win/win situation. Those who get hurt by this are the bath and kitchen dealers and plumbers."
Moen has pulled out of the 2000 National Hardware Show, also in Chicago, in a move for consolidation, she said.