One of the most popular places at the NECA Show is the Showstopper Showcase, a dedicated space on the trade show floor highlighting the newest products, technology and services on the market. A panel of tool experts and experienced electrical contractors judge the products on their safety, usefulness and practicality, while also looking for stand-out products that are unique and innovative. This year, the judges selected 22 products as 2018 Showstopper Showcase winners.
The Showstopper Showcase opens an hour before the rest of the trade show floor, but the space is busy even first thing in the morning. Often the first stop of their day, the Showcase gives attendees a chance to investigate products for themselves; they can touch, inspect and determine what products add to their operation. Groups of NECA show attendees walk around the showcase, chatting about the products and debating their merits and disadvantages. They test the weight of a tool in their hand, test the sturdiness of design and fiddle with zippers, clips, tool dies and all types of attachments.
There is always a wide breadth of Showstopper products, but reoccurring design elements highlight tool trends and features as they gain popularity. This year’s Showcase saw many products with an emphasis on OSHA-compliance and safety, and improvements on time-honored products.
Jimmy Stuart and Simon Bettinger, foremen for E G Middleton Inc. out of Norfolk, Va., were first-time NECA show attendees and stumbled across the Showstopper Showcase. “It’s easy to get lost in all of the booths, but the Showstoppers are a highlight of what’s on the trade show floor.”
Chris Thompson, President of Tec Electric Co., Logan, Utah, likes getting a chance to play with the tools. He said, “It’s nice to look at my own pace without a sales guys over my shoulder. It’s like looking for a car on a Sunday. And if I want a sales pitch, now I know where to get it.”
Ted Kristensen, President of Enterprise Electric Datacom, Temecula, Calif., said, “The Showcase is the latest and greatest new tools. It’s a pretty good highlight of the best of the trade show.” The products at the Showcase affect what Kristensen sees on the show floor. After being impressed by a Leviton circuit breaker in the Showcase, Kristensen headed over to the company’s booth.
Heather Gendreau, an apprentice electrician with IBEW Local 102, Milford, Pa., was drawn to the Showstopper Showcase and saw it as “an educational tool.” She said, “For a beginning apprentice, the Showstopper Showcase is a way to stay ahead of the game and know what’s being used in the field. It allows me to really speak intelligently to exhibitors and other attendees about the products in our industry.”
Mike Marolda and Jeff Branna, project managers along with Kelly DiLello a training director, all with USIS, Pearl River, NY, stopped by the Showstopper to see the most innovative technology. They noted the strong comeback of Makita products and the silica dust collectors on display.
Branna said, “I’ll take one of everything.”