Trade Shows - Dead in the Water ?

With video demonstrations and online retail at your fingertips are traditional trade shows dead in the water or can they evolve to keep pace with the digital age?

Twenty years ago the first A.A. Arb Shows gave the industry access to products and information all hosted in one location it was an absolute god send to the arborist of the day to be able to touch and feel products and get advice directly from the manufacturer or supplier. Sadly visiting the show today little has changed even the location has moved very little continuing to be hosted in the South West of the country quietly ignoring the industry demographic. 

Some things have moved on we find a dispersal of retail distribution along with a boom in product variants leaving the user somewhat at a loss which product to buy or how to use it. Internet traders have brought product prices to a constant all time low ensuring customers get the best prices but what about good local advice and service? Twenty years ago there were really only four big UK suppliers Martin Honey with Honey Brothers being arguably the best known with Penny at the A&F Warehouse, Alan at Stanton Hope mopping up the rest of the business. Chainsaws were always sold on mass at the shows by Bristol based George Carr and Sons who were the go to boys for Chainsaws back then. 

Some of these firms have now disappeared been bought out or have simply settled in to a gentle backwater of the industry. Sale of arborist equipment in the UK has been spread very thin with many agricultural dealers now selling arborist equipment. With no experience, manufacturer training or sales support can they really advise you on what to use? Hats off to some of the manufacturers who are working with leading arborists to producing good quality instructional videos for use on social media and retailer websites but these are still the minority. 

In 2017 we were pleased to sponsor and support the Tree Climbers Forum at the Arb Show once again giving visitors independent advice and live demonstrations. Live demos and hands on workshops sponsored and supported by manufacturers has to be the way forwards if trade shows are to survive the internet age. The logistical and financial burden of attending shows is taking its toll on the retail market given that this is also an APF year only three of the bigger UK retailers remain in attendance Sorbus International, Buxtons and Forest and Arb (Winchester Garden Machinery) along with the new kid on the block Tree-Force. Although Gustharts are there to wave their flag and support the DART charity with their popular throw line event they are not selling at the show. 

For the first time in over ten years Arbjobs won't be sponsoring the 3ATC climbing event at the Arb show it's always nice to put something back in to the industry but we feel we have done our bit and were needing a rest. It is lovely to meet a few clients at each show but even the "Official" visitor numbers simply don't merit the cost and disruption to the office. Arbjobs is are a product of the internet era we now get around 7,000 individual industry visitors to the site each month and can reach thousands more via our extensive data base.  

Don't get me wrong I would hate to see events like the Arb Show fall by the wayside we will be attending as visitors after all there are very few opportunities for working arborists to come together and socialise. However, I do feel that shows like this have to evolve and reach out to new regions and new visitor groups if they are to survive. 

As a taster of what is to see here is a list of other companies attending encouraging the industry to interact with them.

Clothing and PPE

Pfanner and Protos


Lyon Equipment

Cousin Tresec

Bear Valley Company


Sorbus International 


Forest and Ard





Silky Fox

Samurai Saws






Plant and Machinery

Ditch Witch








Tobroco Giant

Timber Wolf

Spectrum Plant



Jaz P Wilson




are all in attendance.