Messe Frankfurt, producer of the biennial International Sanitar Heizung Clima, or ISH show, has reached an agreement in principle with the partners of the North American Expo to host a joint trade show in North America in 2002.

"We will be working out the details and hope to make a major announcement at a press conference in Chicago on Dec. 6," said Inge Calderon, executive vice president of the American Supply Association, one of the NEX partners. The other NEX partners are the Canadian Institute of Plumbing & Heating and the Plumbing-Heating -Cooling Contractors - National Association.

The name of the joint show and its location have not yet been determined, Calderon said.

"For the time being, the joint trade show involves only ISH and NEX," she said. "Our objective is to incorporate representatives from other groups."

Show consolidation is not a new concept for Messe Frankfurt, which produces international trade shows in addition to ISH. Last year it joined with three leading associations in the automotive industry to merge shows. In the first year, exhibit space was up 69%, said Dirk Ebbener, international marketing director at Messe Frankfurt.

The producer of ISH has had conversations with a number of trade associations including the Radiant Panel Association, Kitchen/Bath Industry Show, National Association of Home Builders, North American Expo and American Society of Plumbing Engineers, Ebbener said.

In an interview with Supply House Times prior to the agreement, Ebbener said that the ISH brand name would have to be included in any consolidated trade show in which it participates. For example, the consolidated automotive industry show was renamed Paace Automechanika (Messe Frankfurt's show is Automechanika).

One of the biggest challenges facing organizers of combined trade shows is exhibitors' seniority as it relates to booth location, he said. The consolidation of two or more shows with large numbers of exhibitors in common can result in conflict over who gets the best position.

On the positive side, Ebbener said the ISH concept would be successful in the United States.

"We do not see the 'internationality' of ISH in any of the U.S. shows," he said. "In Germany we have 260,000 people going to ISH and about 2,300 exhibitors. Just to bring a portion of those exhibitors to the United States would make a nice show."

Trade show consolidation was a hot topic among exhibitors at NEX 2000.

"Any combination of shows would create better opportunities," said Ila Lewis, executive vice president at Gerber Plumbing Fixtures.

A consolidated show will have to address the fact that trade associations derive funding from their shows, said Ken Martin, director of brand marketing for Delta Faucet Co. "That will make it incredibly complicated. As a model, we would like something like ISH, a show for the whole industry every two years."

Some exhibitors suggested a consolidated show could be developed to replace K/BIS and NEX, or NEX and NAHB.

"Trade show consolidation that results in having a national trade show every year and an international trade show every other year in the United States is a concept that makes sense," said Linda Mayer, senior vice president/marketing and development, at Moen. Different trade shows will continue to exist only as long as people attend them, another exhibitor said.

"But the cost for both attendees and manufacturers to participate in multiple shows is becoming prohibitive," said the exhibitor, who asked not to be named. "Some selectivity will be forced."