2014 marked the 60th edition of the Atlantic Coast Expo that took place at the Embassy Suites at Kingston Plantation in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
From October 2 to the 4, nearly 1,000 participants from 26 states and Canada took part in the event.
Carl Moser with Cardinal Canteen Food Service and Chair of ACE, was happy to share the success of the show through numbers:
Moser: This year the operator registration was up 34 percent from last year, so that was a really exciting number. And then the exhibitor registration, which is tough, was up 13 percent from last year. The total attendance across the board was up 25 percent.
This year the ACE committee was aggressively recruiting exhibitors, pursing sponsorships, marketing to operators and selecting the best education in order to boost engagement.
Moser: All those different factors really contributed to these numbers and allowed us to have a successful show this year. It was a board effort and everyone putting as much into it as they can possible put and working together as a team. Every year is just better than the next.
Educational sessions, planned each year from operator feedback, took place throughout the convention. Sessions included a technology interactive forum, a legislative update by NAMA’s own Eric Dell and a look into the future of micro markets with industry expert Brad Bachtelle. Scott Denhard of Compass Group and ACE chair elect, noted that educational sessions are created around common industry concerns, discovered through surveys and industry conversations.
Denhard: It is two-fold, we get feedback each year from the ACE-post survey...which will be going out shortly. We get feedback from that, and the second is that our ACE commitee is represented by a number of operating companies, suppliers and distributors. They go out and poll informally their clients and get more information from that standpoint. Those are the two-points of input to determine what the next year's sessions will be.
In addition to educational sessions, this year’s ACE featured a new product showcase, an appearance and keynote speech by former major league baseball pitcher Tommy John and several networking opportunities. There was even a beer garden on the tradeshow floor. For most attendees nothing beats the atmosphere of an ACE show.
Moser: We treat our business as a family atmosphere, and I think of ACE as a family atmosphere. Everybody not only wants to learn something, but they want to see people that they don't get to see throughout the year in a relaxing atmosphere. Everything we plan is so we can have a show where everyone can learn something, maybe get a few deals, but also that they can sit down and talk to someone in a relaxed atmosphere and at a reasonable price...Three words: ACE is back!
The ACE committee is already hard at work planning for what is sure to be an even bigger event in 2015.
For VMW TV, I’m Emily Refermat.