BREAKBULK IS BACK: AFTER PANDEMIC HICCUP, BREAKBULK AMERICAS RETURNS TO HOUSTON
After missing 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Breakbulk Americas is returning in September.
“This event from September 28 to 30 is all about getting together as an industry after a very long two-year break,” says Leslie Meredith, Marketing and Media Director for the event. “Breakbulk Americas is the first Breakbulk event to return to the market post-pandemic. We are working very closely with the City of Houston and the George R. Brown Convention Center to make sure that this is a safe experience for all.”
You might say Breakbulk Americas has gotten a shot in the arm.
“Fortunately, the vaccine rollout has been very efficient and Americans are able to move around with a great deal of freedom, which bodes well for the event this fall,” Meredith says.
Safety for all involved is paramount for event organizers, Hyve Group. In January, Visit Houston, the city’s entity that governs events and tourism, outlined its exceptional safety measures that will be in place for the event along with other improvements to support the region’s top event for the project cargo and breakbulk industry.
John Solis, senior vice president of Sales & Client Services at the George R. Brown Convention Center (a.k.a. GRB Center), said in a communiqué to Breakbulk, the convention center has made significant enhancements to its facility. The GRB Center is the first convention center in the world to deploy the Integrated Viral Protection (IVP) system, which deploys biodefense filtration technology proven to eliminate SARS-CoV-2 (99.999%) and other airborne contaminants.
In addition, a new virtual studio inside the GRB Center will provide flexibility to maximize opportunities for hybrid experiences. This feature will allow Breakbulk to host remote expert speakers should that be necessary due to travel or budgetary considerations, along with its in-person industry panelists.
A third enhancement will be permanent thermal scanning stations located at all entry points that can process up to 100 guests per minute, ensuring no delays to access the exhibition floor.
The new features complement Hyve’s own safe and secure program that is applied to all Hyve events.
At the last Breakbulk Americas convention in 2019, more than 4,800 attended, which has made Breakbulk Americas the region’s largest and most influential event across Canada, the U.S., Latin America and the Caribbean for all those involved in the project cargo and breakbulk community.
Meredith said organizers have “some exciting plans for Breakbulk Americas to fuel networking for new business opportunities, which has never been more important. The traditional welcome reception held Tuesday evening at the GRB Center will embrace the spirit of Texas as thousands gather for the Reunion at the Breakbulk Saloon. The entire exhibition floor will be decked out Western-style with ‘watering holes’ (themed bars) throughout the hall.”
Leading up to the reunion will be an exclusive Executive Summit for C-level exhibitors and shippers to tackle post-COVID recovery together. On a lighter note, all attendees are invited to participate in the 2021 Maritime Workers Emergency Medical Fund Golf Tournament at the Hermann Park Golf Course in Houston.
The first full day of the exhibition and conference begins on Wednesday, Sept. 29, continuing through Thursday afternoon, Sept. 30. On the main stage, industry leaders will present a wide range of insights on the evolving impact of COVID on business and projects, President Biden’s infrastructure plan, U.S. offshore wind project opportunities, the carrier sector, women in breakbulk on tackling the imposter syndrome and the effects, both long term and short term, of the greening of the oil and gas supply chain.
Meredith said that “an integral part of Breakbulk Americas is contributing to the next generation of transport and logistics professionals, which we do through the Jerry Nagel Education Day and guided tours of the exhibition floor. With strong ties to Texas universities and beyond, Breakbulk typically hosts around 200 students and their instructors at this introduction to the industry and to its leaders. Education Day will be held on Thursday.”
Breakbulk Americas attracts new exhibitors annually, but there are many who make it a “must” event, like the Port of Baltimore.
“Breakbulk cargo is a very important subject matter for the Port of Baltimore and Breakbulk Americas is a must-attend conference,” says William Doyle, executive director of the Maryland Port Administration. “Last year, Baltimore handled more than 173,000 tons of breakbulk cargo, which was a 23% jump over 2019 and so far this year we are up 4% over last year.”
Doyle continued: “We regularly handle power and heat steam recovery generation machinery, wind turbine equipment, transformers and other energy production equipment. We also serve as a major gateway for breakbulk premium fresh fiber paperboards, including folding boxboards, food service boards and white kraftliners, especially since the e-commerce boom.”
He noted that his facility’s “excellent geographic location to states like Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio allows Baltimore to be an ideal port for handling breakbulk cargo destined to those states. Baltimore also has two, heavy-lift cranes and direct-to-rail capabilities. The Breakbulk Americas conference allows us to meet and connect with our current breakbulk customers and seek out opportunities with prospective customers. We will have our breakbulk sales representative Rick Pagley at the event.”
For Barnhart Crane and Rigging in Fairhope, Alabama, “there is really no greater opportunity to connect and network with those involved in the heavy transport and project cargo industry than Breakbulk Americas,” says Chris Teague, Barhart’s director of Marketing. “Barnhart has been committed to this event for years because it has always borne fruit. As a national company with 50 locations across the U.S., Breakbulk is the one event for which our sales team can gather and engage with customers, vendors and key influencers within the industry. Year-after-year, all Breakbulk Americas attendees and exhibitors can always be guaranteed to interact with the (pun intended) movers and shakers in the industry.”
Ken Carey, manager, Business Development, with the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp., says “Highway H2O has been attending this event for many years. We find the quality of the event, the attendees and the other exhibitors to be world-class.”
Carey adds that, “Given the bi-national scope of the Seaway-Great Lakes transportation system, we also enjoy the opportunity to meet new contacts and expand on relationships we have developed over the years.”
Convention exhibitor Port Tampa Bay looks at Breakbulk Americas as key to its business, according to Wade Elliott, the port’s vice president of Business Development.
“We are Florida’s largest port for steel cargo and have been receiving increasing volumes of breakbulk lumber, thanks to a new service which was launched last year,” Elliott says. “Breakbulk Americas provides a great networking forum for us to meet with the carriers, importers and exporters and coordinate plans to serve our growing market, in particular the Tampa/Orlando I-4 Corridor, Florida’s distribution hub.”
Annual Breakbulk Americas attendee Wolfe House Movers/Buckingham Heavy Transport has between two and four company members at the event, says Anna Brovont, the Bernville, Pennsylvania, company’s marketing administrator.
“As a heavy haul transporter, we have found that Breakbulk Americas has been integral to our business in bringing us an opportunity to discuss their interests with our clients, expand our networks and stay abreast of developments within the industry,” she says. “We do some business but use Breakbulk Americas primarily to touch base with clients.”
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