Orlando was the site for what has become to many a brave experiment: a return to a large, live, in-person conference. The 2022 Grainger Show was packed with approximately 8,500 attendees ready to interact in person at the Orlando Convention Center this week. The spirit was warm, convivial and steeped in thought leadership.
The Grainger Show offered more than 4,000 invited customers the opportunity to meet with over 2,100 representatives of 400 of the world’s top maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) supplier organizations and hear from leading industry experts discuss relevant topics the MRO industry is encountering in 2022.
Exhibitors at the show ranged across Grainger’s product portfolio, from the largest — such as 3M, Stanley Black & Decker, Milwaukee Tool, Schneider Electric, Honeywell, Norton, Loctite — to more specialized suppliers, including Weiler, Walter, JPW, GWS Tool Group and many others.
The show was designed to provide attendees with “comprehensive, proven strategies to help their businesses and institutions save time, money, and stay safe,” according to Grainger.
The session tracks at the Grainger Show included preparation and readiness plan, maintenance operations and technology, procurement practices, safety, and industry trends.
Main themes at the show included was future directions, best practices, and solutions to issues MRO customer face, as seminars ranged from colorful titles like “The Nebulous Nature of Environmental Social Governance (ESG): Fundamentals for Operational Performance” to “It’s the Dose That Makes the Poison – The Cumulative Effect of Exposure to Hazardous Substances.”
“I enjoyed the seminars because it’s just good hearing what folks in the industry are up to,” one customer mentioned. “In a hopefully post-pandemic world, it’s going to be good to put things I learned here at Grainger into practice.”
Others at the show enjoyed the ability to network with colleagues in-person, away from Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or other virtual software. The 2022 Grainger Show was conducive to group meetings, breakout sessions and one-on-one conversations.
A highlight of the show was the “Supplier Innovation Panel,” which featured representatives from TRU NORTH Advisors, Hibbett Retail, Accenture and Medxcel. The panel discussed how the rate of change is driven by disruptive innovation and how post-pandemic supplier innovation changes relationships with organizations.
Innovation was a focus in seminars across the Grainger Show, as speakers detailed how they ramped up for the sudden onslaught of the pandemic and had to grapple with an industry faced with higher prices and costs and, in several cases, fierce competition for labor.
The trade show floor featured exhibitors large and small, with product demos consisting of air purifiers, tools demonstrations, metalworking and the latest in safety apparel. Customers often remarked how much more advantageous it was to trace business cards and ask questions in person. Attendees to the show were treated to entertainment both nights of the conference, furthering opportunities to make connections.
“I think this was a good model for how to do a conference this year,” one customer remarked. “Grainger clearly put a lot of effort into it, and I’m glad the COVID mess didn’t derail this. I bet it will be even bigger next year.”
“Bigger next year” was a common theme; not just at the show, but also for the industry in general. With an economy that grew by leaps and bounds in 2021, the excitement was palpable for greater revenue growth, innovation and labor replenishment in 2022.