World of Concrete is celebrating 35 years of bringing new, innovative products and education to the concrete construction industry. The show has seen countless programs, seminars, and events created to help the construction individual succeed in an ever-changing field. Take a trip down memory lane in this retrospective of WOC's service to the marketplace.
The first 10 years: 1975 - 1985
Hyatt Regency, Houston
"I'll believe it when I see it," was the sentiment of one concrete contractor when informed about a new construction trade show called the World of Concrete (WOC). The event hosted by Concrete Construction, and co-sponsored by the American Society of Concrete Contractors (ASCC), and the American Concrete Pumping Association (ACPA), offered both indoor and outdoor exhibits totaling 75,000 square feet, concrete-related demonstrations, and workshops.
Among the first exhibitors were 17 different manufacturers of forming systems. According to attendees, the most popular exhibit was an innovative product many felt would change the industry: tapered tie rods.
The first Concrete Demos featured topics such as vacuum dewatering slabs, surveying with laser equipment, and the use of high-temperature lances for concrete demolition and cutting. Workshops, based on input from the Portland Cement Association (PCA) and American Concrete Institute (ACI), included "Human Engineering and Motivation," "Field Practices for Architectural Concrete," and "The Role of Data Processing in a Medium Sized Construction Firm." The latter workshop was considered ground-breaking at the time as its premise was to "help attendees decide if there is a place for a computer in your organization."
The first WOC drew a total of 1550 attendees and 71 exhibitors. Cost of entry to the exhibition area at the first World of Concrete in 1975: $3.
Las Vegas Hilton
With one show under their belt, WOC officials were still fine-tuning the event but promised a bigger and better show in 1976. The city of Las Vegas was chosen to host WOC '76—the first of 17 (and counting) stops in Las Vegas for WOC. Full registration offered attendees 90 hours of seminars, workshops, demos, access to the exhibition area, three free lunches as well as cocktails during an opening night party. The exhibition area included more than 100 companies.
Rivergate Exposition Center, New Orleans
When WOC '77 rolled into New Orleans, the nation's economy was struggling, and questions loomed whether or not the residential marketplace would rebound concurrent to a downturn in commercial construction.
WOC was garnering international attention as a total of 17 countries, including China, Australia, and Qatar, were represented. A total of 4143 attendees showed up, a 90% increase over previous attendance. Much like today, contractors accounted for more than halfof attendees—concrete pumpers, ready-mix producers, precast/prestressed producers, architects, engineers, distributors, and dealers rounded out the remaining attendees.
Seminars reflected the issues facing the industry in 1977, and included 21 different three-hour concrete technology and management topics.
Phoenix Civic Center
The appetite for concrete was growing, and to meet increasing demands from 200 exhibitors and more than 5812 attendees, officials expanded WOC '78 to four days.
As part of an effort to expedite the growing participation of foreign exhibitors and attendees, officials initiated an application to the U.S. Department of Commerce to declare WOC an international trade fair.
Co-sponsors of WOC totaled 11, and four of the associations held their annual meetings concurrent to WOC. Seminars covered topics such as exposed aggregate concrete, concrete pavement overlays, and technologies for repair and restoration of concrete. The live demos remained popular and explored epoxy seamless floors and horizontal slipforming methods and equipment.
Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta
If the 9322 attendees of WOC '79 couldn't find enough from the 274 exhibitors or 38 seminars, the first WOC Film Festival satisfied their curiosities, featuring 13 concrete-related films on topics ranging from the production of cement to construction safety practices.
Las Vegas Convention Center
Combining the seminars and live demos, officials created Demonstration Seminars, an explanatory lecture with full-scale illustrations. Floor finishing techniques and shotcreting with fibrous shotcrete highlighted this new event. WOC was again expanded—to five days—and attracted more than 15,827 attendees, 400 exhibitors, and 15 co-sponsor industry trade associations.
Dallas Convention Center
The first topic-specific specialty pavilions, the Concept '81 Pavilion, was described by Concrete Construction as "a cavalcade of concrete ideas on residential construction featuring the newest ideas, designs, and methods involving concrete in residential construction, including single-family, low-rise, high-rise, earth-sheltered, cast-in-place, precast, and shotcrete construction."Growing to 411 exhibitors and 50+ seminars, WOC '81 featured Live Demos of concrete finish topics such as dry-shake techniques, exposed aggregate finishes, pattern stamping, and more.
Las Vegas Convention Center
WOC recorded only slight growth during the mid-80s, reflective of a flat U.S. economy. The educational program continued to intrigue show-goers as WOC crisscrossed the country during these four years.
WOC '85 distinguished itself from other WOCs in the '80s by introducing the PreCast/Pre-Stressed Pavilion and increasing the popular Film Festival to four days. Officials also planned the construction of a 1200-square-foot concrete house onsite at the convention center. Built from the ground up during the course of the show, this house showed attendees several new techniques for constructing a low-cost, energy-efficient residential concrete home. Attendees were schooled on the specific techniques and equipment used to build the concrete home. At the conclusion of the WOC '85, the five-room concrete home was transported intact from the convention center and placed into use in the city of Las Vegas.