New show--with familiar faces--takes on Medtrade

Saturday, May 31, 2008

ATLANTA--All of a sudden Medtrade has some competition. In mid-April, three former Medtrade show directors--Cory Smith, Art Ellis and Kevin Bird--teamed up with their old co-worker Grayson Lutz to help form Access Business Media. With private equity backing, the group plans to debut the HME Exposition & Conference April 21-23, 2009, at the Baltimore Convention Center in Baltimore. Access will market the show under the slogan: “This is your event!” HME News, which is co-sponsoring the show, caught up recently with Smith, who serves as vice president of marketing, to discuss the new venture.

HME News: How will the HME Expo differ from Medtrade?

Cory Smith: When designing the HME Exposition & Conference, we spent a lot of time trying to be responsive to the needs that have been expressed over the years from exhibitors and attendees. We’re also focused on the changing landscape in HME and tried to find a way to position this event to support and promote the industry to decision makers in Washington.

HME News: Can you give some examples?

Smith: Sure. We’re holding the first show in Baltimore, which is just a short ride to Washington. That will allow attendees to go to the Capitol and visit their senators and representatives and advocate for industry issues. We’re also establishing councils that will focus on exhibitor interests, attendee interests and advocacy. The industry is changing at a rapid pace and these councils will be in a much better position to make decisions on key industry issues. The councils will be more than a voice: They will have voting rights and decide how the show will be positioned.

HME: Does competitive bidding and other uncertainties in the market concern you?

Smith: In order to effectively service the market, we have to provide solutions. We saw the uncertainty as an opportunity to address needs that are not currently being met. That includes the need to promote the industry to the influencers in D.C. and to provide education that helps providers transition to business models that are more appropriate for the current environment of declining reimbursement.

HME: What does a trade show contribute to the industry?

Smith: An industry event provides the opportunity to unify the HME community, a vast opportunity to update what is happening in the marketplace, and a more cost effective way to bring buyers and sellers together. In our case, we plan to establish a vehicle to reinvest into the industry through a foundation established to promote HME. The funding mechanism will come from activities surrounding the event.

HME: Is the trend in trade shows toward smaller regional events?

Smith: I think it really depends on the market. I am not sure if this industry or the manufacturers will support multiple regional events. We plan to establish councils that will help us decide the right model for the HME industry. We’ll listen and operate in a very collaborative manner.

HME: How many shows will Access promote each year?

Smith: At this point, we only have plans for one event in the HME industry unless the market expresses interest in more.