Expo 2002 focuses on the business of success

With all of the negative economic news affecting the Pacific Northwest – including the recent labor dispute between dockworkers and shippers and Washington state having the highest unemployment rate in the nation – the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber’s Expo 2002 was a breath of fresh air.

The trade show, which took place at the Tacoma Dome Exhibition Hall on Oct. 9-10, featured 128 exhibitors and free seminars by area businesses.
It also provided a fun atmosphere where business got done.

While making important networking connections and furthering their respective businesses, attendees could be seen having a good time.

The Silver Cloud Inn’s booth offered passers-by the chance to try their hand at golf with a putting green; Elliot Sales Corporation let visitors try their hand at a slot machine; and Total Office Furniture entertained those who stopped by with the chance to play pinball.

“The traffic has been good,” said Gary Walmer, membership sales manager for the Chamber. “This is a fun, fun show.”

Event consultant Fred Oldenburg estimated attendance at the two-day event to be at least 4,000.

“It’s been a great show,” he added, noting the Chamber sold all available spaces at this year’s event.

Each booth costs between $600 and $1,000.

Walmer and Oldenburg both made mention of the fact that Tacoma’s trade show, one of the biggest in the Northwest, has prospered even as other regional chamber trade shows – like Seattle and Bellevue – have ceased.

“It says a lot for the regional economy,” Walmer said. “It’s (the Expo) been getting bigger and stronger every year.”

Part of the reason for the event’s success, other than the carnival-like atmosphere, is the chance to meet people.

(Proving it wasn’t all business, the announcement the bar was open elicited cheers from the crowd.)

“It’s a great place to network and meet new friends,” Oldenburg said. “It’s great for business leads.”

Somebody who would agree with that would be Tina Cranmer, representing the University of Washington Tacoma at Expo 2002.

“It’s been a fun time,” Cranmer, who is with the university’s office of public relations and communications, said. “I think most of our business has been other vendors.”

She said she handed out a lot of brochures and information to high school students and their parents, as well as explaining plans for expansion of the campus to those who stopped by her booth.

“We’re really excited about the transformation,” Cranmer said of the growing school. “It’s been phenomenal.”

Bratrud Middleton Insurance, BenefitPort Northwest, Business Examiner Newspaper Group, Franciscan Health Systems, King Oscar Hotels & Convention Center, 770 KNWX, Lamar, Northwest Physicians Network, Pierce Transit and Thomson Travel were the primary sponsors of this year’s Expo.