The Construction & Quarry Machinery Show took place in Punchestown racecourse on the 21st and 22nd of June. The sun shone and the machines looked magnificent. Darren Scully takes an overall view of the show and what the future holds.
I am wearing two hats as I write this article. Over the years I have attended many machinery shows as a journalist. I always believe in giving a very honest overview of every event that I attend. It might be more difficult to do the same when I write about the CQMS show because I was the project manager for the event. This meant I was responsible for marking out the venue and ensuring my crew were able to get all the stands in place and on time. There were very long days in the build-up to the show and I was very thankful that I had a great team of people who were prepared to put in the long shifts to ensure all the jobs got done.
I have huge respect for any person or organisation that puts on a show, as believe me, it is not easy and requires lots of patience and dedication. The star of any equipment show is the machinery and all the exhibitors went to great lengths to put their best foot forward.
They must put their hand in their pocket and pay for the stand, transporting the machinery, staff costs and entertaining customers; it is not a cheap exercise. They do this because they truly understand the value of the event. It gives them the opportunity to meet old and new customers, face to face.
It enables them to build relationships and it allows the potential buyer to feel the equipment. I have always made the point to many in the industry that we are involved in a business that is a contact sport, people like to do business with people and I have seen machines sold not because of the brand but because of the people behind the brand.
To see and do
There was a lot to see and do at CQMS. The location at Punchestown was ideal. There was loads of access and plenty of parking and great facilities. The views of the rolling Kildare countryside gave a relaxed setting, and everyone said the venue was a winner alright.
The show was divided into four Zones. At the entrance was the Volvo A40 bespoke dumper that could carry 80 tonnes of pay dirt. It certainly drew lots of attention and this machine was specially built by Beco in Belgium.
Its new owner is Kilmurray Sand and Gravel and they certainly have the only machine of this type in Ireland or the UK. As you walked through the entrance into the parade ring there was plenty on the race card. In this Zone we had the smaller stands. Companies like Hansa flex, Pirtek, Difco and Dromone Engineering occupied 6×6-metre stands and for them business was brisk.
Ecovolve, who make their own electric dumpers in Ireland for the world market also had a stand in this zone. I asked the company owner Sean Breen how the show was for him. “It was very good, we got to have quality time with people who had a genuine interest in our products. The right people were at this event, people who buy machines and want to talk business. For us it was the right type of show and we will be back”, said Sean.
You then walked through the archway and into Zone Two, where all the big machines were on display. On show were big brands like Hitachi, Caterpillar, Kubota, Kobelco, Case, Wirtgen, Doosan, Komatsu, Bomag, Magni, Manitou and many more. All the big players and dealers were here. I got to have a chat with Frank Smith of FJS who is the dealer of LiuGong machinery for Ireland. Frank is very well respected in the industry and his company and staff give a great service. Frank is also a guy who calls a spade a spade, and I asked him how the show was going for him.
“The show is well run, and we have got to talk to some good people with lots of follow-ups to do. I think we need our own show in Ireland and although there are not big crowds here, it is certainly quality and not quantity”. That seemed to be the message from a lot of exhibitors – quality people attending even though the numbers were low. In the Event Centre were the likes of Close Brothers, Finance Ireland, EMS, Auto-air, Construction Spares and Teletrac Navman.
The star of the Event Centre was Pressure Hydraulics & Controls. This Cork-based company really went to town on their 20X20-metre stand. They brought in a professional rigging company and had giant LCD screens and a full coffee/drinks dock and stand layout that was uber-professional. I spoke to the managing director Jim Hickey and asked for his views of CQMS.
“This was our first ever show, and we wanted to make an impression. We went very professional with it because it reflects our company values and beliefs. To us, this was more a marketing exercise than selling components off the stand.
We now have all these photos and videos that we will use for future campaigns and it for us, it was money well spent. We were very impressed with the organisation of the show and we will be back” said Jim.
I think his progressive thinking could be a lesson to other companies. Also, in the event centre, McHale’s had a stand as well as another stand out in Zone Two. The Komatsu dealer brought a wide selection of machines to the show and Michael McHale said the following.
“CQMS was a very clear barometer of the economic climate and of customer sentiment throughout the plant sector. Customers are more confident, more willing to meet and study what is new and what could be beneficial in helping them grow their business. We found the show as an excellent stage on which to show off the latest technology and experience high-quality face-time with those we might not have a chance to meet so often”, he stated.
I also met up with BAM plant manager, Tommy Flaherty. I asked him what he liked about CQMS. “It is a good way to get a flavour of what is out there in the market. I don’t have the time to visit every dealer or manufacturer in the country, I can visit here and get to meet a lot of people in the one afternoon. It is important the industry has its own dedicated show and it is well worthwhile attending”, said Tommy.
On the dig
Not only were there static stands but one big draw was the live Dig Zone. Here, there were various machines hard at work, putting on an impressive display and allowing visitors to get hands on lever time. Rototilt, Steelwrist and Engcon had attachments fitted to excavators, allowing potential buyers see first-hand the tilt revolution that is transforming jobsites across the country.
EMS had a Doosan DX digger fitted with an MB crushing bucket. It quickly crushed a large pile of rock brought in for the demo.
Leica fitted their latest machine control system to a Hitachi excavator. This enabled them to demonstrate the unique features to potential customers and it made it easy for the end user to truly understand the benefits of the latest technology. LiuGong dealer, FJS Plant Sales, also came to the Dig Zone party with a wheeled loading shovel and 939E excavator.
On the Dig Zone I spoke to Robert Hunt, who is managing director of Engcon UK. I asked him what he thought of the show. “First of all, it is really well run. Set-up was straightforward and the crew very helpful. Secondly, and most importantly, we have had a very good show. Lots of interest in our products and people have really liked the idea of getting hands-on experience on the machine. We have sold product to new customers and we have many leads to follow up on. A show like this gives contractors a good opportunity to see equipment up close and get answers to their many questions. We are looking forward to the next show”, concluded Robert.
It was not just construction machines that were available to demo, but also tipper trucks. All the big brands took advantage of a 2km driving route around Punchestown. Renault, Scania, Volvo, DAF and MAN brought out their shiny new models and allowed interested persons to get behind the wheel and drive the truck around the course. They could even drive into the Dig Zone and get loaded up by a digger.
Conor Horan of Irish Commercials, who sell Volvo trucks, had the following to say about CQMS. “The demo drive was very helpful in giving potential customers a good opportunity to test drive various brands and models. This show was very much about people who were interested in doing business. No tyre kickers that you get at other shows and we found it very beneficial.”
The show had over one hundred and eighty exhibitors. It covered practically everything you needed in construction or plant hire. From rock breakers to electric dumpers, from diggers to drones. If you decided what you wanted to buy, you could also acquire the finance options at the show. We also had panel talks which included Minister Damien English, Tom Parlon from the CIF, Pat Lucey from Sisk and Jim Power, the well-known economist, among others. They discussed the Ireland 2040 plan and the challenges facing Ireland into the future, especially the whole issue around Brexit.
One comment that stuck in my mind was the one made by the Sisk’s Pat Lucey. He said that if you plan to build a motorway, from the time of the original concept to when you put the first bucket into the ground, it takes five years. Wow, that in my opinion is far too long. Something that the top brass in government must address if we are to build a country with a top-class infrastructure.
The show was heavily advertised with adverts on Morning Ireland and the Drivetime show on Radio 1 and in the Irish Independent. Over ten thousand trade passes were distributed to all the exhibitors and for those who registered online. With all the social media advertising also thrown in, then why, oh why were the numbers who attended not to the liking of some exhibitors?
It is all about managing expectations. There are currently about 130,000 people employed in the construction sector in Ireland. Out of that figure, about 10,000 are involved in construction and quarrying equipment. They say that to get 10% of your industry to attend a trade show is a good day at the office.
CQMS ‘19 had over 4,200 go through the doors over the two days, or 40% of the entire industry in Ireland. That number was down on what attended CQMS ‘17 in Tullamore. However, people need to be reminded that at that show, it was more advertised and geared up for family entertainment, with the dancing diggers and an air show. CQMS ‘19 was very much focused on the industry and new technology.
There are some issues to be addressed going forward and in my humble opinion, CQMS needs to become the industry show. It needs to be supported and run by the industry. There are some ideas cooking in my head on how to encourage more in the industry to attend and I am sure there are many within the industry that would also like to contribute their ideas. But most importantly, we need to work together. This is a small country with a small equipment industry. I was stunned when an exhibitor told me that they did not hand out any of their free trade passes to customers.
When I asked why, I was told that they did not want their customers attending the show and visiting competitor’s stands. The same exhibitor then moaned to me about the low numbers attending. The mind truly boggles.
There is a lot to be done for the future, on reflection the show was a good one with many positive comments, we just have to manage expectations. Roll on CQMS 21.
The verdict from the stands
With so many stands on site, there was a lot to see and do. We caught up with some of these exhibitors and got their thoughts on the show.
Laois Hire had an impressive spread on their stand, complete with the fastest machine at the show – the Laois Hire Skoda Fabia rally car. “The show has a good setup, it’s in a great location and there’s a great vibe here”, said Michael Killeen, group managing director, Laois Hire/HSS Group.
Feelings were also positive on the O’Regan Plant Sales stand. The Cork-based dealer had brought along an array of models from the Yanmar range. “We were at the last show with Terex, but this is our first CQMS since we got the Yanmar franchise this time last year”, said salesman Stephen O’Regan.
“We have had a lot of very keen and interested people. We have had a lot of positive feedback about the Yanmar brand. A lot of our existing customers are here, as well as a lot of potential new customers from Dublin”, he explained.
Telematics software firm Teletrac Navman were back this year, promoting a product which can pull together a mixed fleet of plant and vehicles and show important information like fuel burn and fault codes in one place. “We have had some enquiries and have gotten to meet and speak to a lot of people who we wouldn’t have if we weren’t here”, said Adam Lamont, sales manager UK and Ireland for Teletrac Navman.
Among a string of heavy hitters from the tiltrotator world was Engcon, making their first outing to CQMS. “One thing we’ve enjoyed about CQMS is how relaxed and helpful the organisers have been”, commented Andrew Badham, sales at Engcon UK.
Powerscreen Ireland were another returning exhibitor. General manager Ger Smullen was pleased with their experience at the show. “We’ve had a lot of success at the show. Our parts department in particular has done very well from it.
We have lined up a number of appointments, and our sales guys will be busy for the next couple of weeks based on this show”, he said. “We have seen faces we don’t normally get to see. We have been talking to guys from Kerry and guys who came down from Dungannon, so all in all it has been very good for us.”
In fact, there were reports of machinery fans from even further afield who had made the trip to Punchestown. “We’ve met French and Germans at the show”, said Noel Clancy, director of Industrial Tyre Specialists. “Overseas visitors to a show in Ireland are a good sign”, he remarked.
Familiar faces in a better place
The exhibitors agreed that a show like CQMS is beneficial not just for making sales, but also for catching up with customers who they may not get to meet face-to-face on a regular basis. “On Friday, we had a lot of good, positive leads, which we can follow up on over the next week. You have to be here to speak to your customers. The country may be small, but it’s too big to get around and meet everybody. It’s good to make them a cup of tea and make them feel welcome”, said Adrian Miller, service and aftersales parts manager at Northern Crusher Spares.
There had also been a steady flow of familiar faces dropping by the Glendun Plant Sales stand. “We’ve had a lot of customers coming in and out and have made some good sales off the stand. We have had a lot of enquiries which we will follow up on. A lot of our key customers have visited us on our stand, and it’s a great opportunity to get to talk to them”, said Derek Weir. “We have had time to talk to big customers who we don’t always get to meet during the year. The future business from the show should be good”, he said.
The decision to relocate the show to Punchestown for 2019 was well received by the exhibitors, who appreciated the accessibility of the site, as well as the amenities it had to offer. “This is a better setup than the last show. It’s in a better venue and a better location, closer to Dublin”, said Sean Breen of Ecovolve.
Derek Weir of Glendun Plant Sales had a similar opinion. “Punchestown is an ideal location. It’s easy to get to, there’s a good road network, it’s not too far from the North or our customers in the south. From our point of view, it’s ideal”, he stated.
Industrial Tyre Specialists’ Noel Clancy also praised the location, as well as having good things to say about the show in general. “It was very well organised. It’s a lot easier to get to as well, you can come off the motorway and straight in. There is great car parking and facilities, and the staff have been very helpful. Our passes even came well in advance. It’s relaxed, there’s no pressure, and the weather is good. We’ve had a better show than last time. We will definitely be back again”, he said.
Getting the hands dirty
Among the gear working in the demo area were the machines taking the plant world by storm – tiltrotators. Many of the biggest names in tilties were there, and the demo idea went down well with these manufacturers. “The position we’re in here is perfect. We’ve got a great run of people coming from different directions”, said Malcolm Long, country manager for Rototilt UK, who were on the Cullion Plant Service stand.
Malcolm was of the opinion that having a live demo is necessary to explain how a tiltrotator works. “We have to have a demo with tiltrotators. You can talk about it and look at it, but seeing it working makes all the difference. We have made a conscious decision to not do any shows where we won’t have a demo, because seeing it says a lot more than talking about it”, he explained.
He also commented on how the Saturday had been on their stand. “The footfall today has been decent. Sometimes when it’s a family day the quality can go down, but we have had some good conversations today. We’re relying on the end user to drive demand for our product, so it’s been good for us.”
Andrew Badham of Engcon was also pleased with the setup. “Our location here with the other manufacturers has been good, people have a one-stop shop here to try out and talk about tilties. It’s fantastic that we can have a live demo at the back of our stand, and it’s drawn a lot of people over”, he said.
Visitors could also put the best construction-spec trucks on the market through their paces on the Tipper Test Track. “I like the demonstration track that was set up. It lets people see the truck’s abilities”, commented Malcolm McKinstry of MAN Importers Ireland.
The only show in town
As Ireland’s only dedicated construction plant show, CQMS has the advantage of drawing a crowd who largely come from the worlds of plant and construction. The exhibitors agreed that this is helpful for the industry. “There is no other show where people can display plant equipment like this, and where people like us can meet our customers. I think it’s a great idea, and hopefully it will continue”, said Michael Killeen of Laois Hire.
Adam Lamont of Teletrac Navman also thought the visitors to the show were the right people for their product. “This is the perfect show for us to showcase our product. This is the exact audience we’re looking for. Our product is fairly new, and a lot of people aren’t aware of it. A show like this is great for educating people about what is available and what they can do with it”, he said.
“There is actually quite a big market in Ireland for this product”, he added.
“It’s a good idea to have a show that focuses on a particular market, for us promoting the tipper and the four-year warranty”, said Malcolm McKinstry of MAN Importers Ireland.
“It’s good to have the construction-related industries together here – mining, demolition, plant machinery, rental equipment”, commented Sean Breen of Ecovolve.
Some exhibitors commented on the high quality of the visitors coming by their stands. “The quality of visitor has been great. At the Ploughing, you get a huge volume of people coming through, but they’re asking questions like ‘what is this?’, or ‘what does that do?’ The people here can take a look at the parts on the shelf or a graphic on the wall and they automatically know what it is. We get to meet quarry men here”, said Ger Smullen of Powerscreen Ireland.
Adrian Miller of Northern Crusher Spares shared similar thoughts. “At a show that’s just for construction, you’ll just have construction guys. You might have a lower quantity of people, but you have better quality”, he said.
“We have had a very high quality of visitor. The people who were here were very interested in the product”, said Stephen O’Regan of O’Regan Plant Sales.
With a lot to see across the four Zones of the site and plenty of interesting kit on every stand, we found out what particular items were drawing passers-by onto some of the stands. “The wheeled excavator has been very popular. There seems to be more demand for it in Dublin than in Cork”, said Stephen O’Regan of O’Regan Plant Sales.
“There has been interest across all of our products – MHM generators, Selwood pumps, Husqvarna, Western Tanks and Compair compressors”, said Michael Killeen of Laois Hire. “In particular there has been more interest in the bigger, 800 cfm compressors. This is a sign that there is more activity in areas like quarrying and drilling”, he commented.
For Engcon, a particular tilty model had been getting the most attention. “We’ve probably had the most enquiries for the 214, which is our model for 14-tonners and our best seller”, said Andrew Badham.
“A pleasant surprise for us has been the interest in the van, which has opened us up to a new potential market”, said Malcolm McKinstry of MAN Importers Ireland, gesturing toward the TGE, sitting among the trucks on the stand. “Some of the interest has even come from other exhibitors, so we have gotten that networking benefit too”, he said.
“The van is built in conjunction with Volkswagen and has only been hitting the road with us for the last year or so”, added Malcolm.
The Industrial Tyre Specialists crew were kept busy with enquiries about particular types of rubber. “People have been showing interest in the bigger tyres – the earthmovers for quarries, the radials and Continental products, as well as the solid OTRs”, said Noel Clancy.
On the Ecovolve stand, the electric high-tip dumper had been getting some interest. “People have been coming over who are doing work in factories, for example, wo didn’t know this type of equipment is available, let alone made in Ireland”, commented Sean Breen.
“People have been showing interest in the zero-carbon emissions stuff – battery-operated and hybrid hoists, scissor lifts and lighting towers”, said Derek Weir of Glendun Plant Sales.