March 04, 2024

Mid-West Truck and Trailer Show Feb. 2-3 in Peoria

Industry bouncing back from COVID, supply chain challenges

Guests attending the 2023 Mid-West Truck and Trailer Show had the opportunity to shop, socialize, get updates on the latest trucking industry information and vote for their favorite truck in the annual Trucker’s Pride Beauty Contest. The 2024 Mid-West Truck and Trailer Show, Feb. 1-3 at the Peoria Civic Center in Peoria, Illinois, will offer guests all of that in greater quantity. Many vendors are returning after a hiatus, due to COVID-related supply chain issues, and a record number of trucks are signed up for the Trucker’s Pride Beauty Contest.

PEORIA, Ill. — “We have a ton of stuff packed into two days.” That’s the succinct description of the 2024 Mid-West Truck and Trailer Show, scheduled for Feb. 2-3 at the Peoria Civic Center, 201 SW Jefferson Ave., Peoria.

Admission to the show is free with the advertisement in the Jan. 19 or Jan. 26 issue of Illinois AgriNews. Free tickets are also available at most major truck stops and industry suppliers.

Don Schaefer, president of the Mid-West Truckers Association, said this year’s show reflects an industry that has made a strong comeback from the challenges of the past few years.

Those challenges, COVID restrictions and shutdowns along with related supply chain problems, had an impact on the show itself. Organizers were forced to cancel the show in 2021 and 2022.

In 2023, the show returned, but saw a drop in vendors as many trucking industry vendors still were dealing with supply chain challenges.

“Last year was the first year we did the show after being off for a couple of years. It still was a struggle to get exhibitors, because for many of them, it still was a struggle to get inventory. This year, we’ve taken care of that supply chain and the inventory is there,” Schaefer said.

This year, the trade show will feature a full slate of returning vendors and new exhibitors.

“Every year somebody is bringing something new. That is the fun part about the trade show, we always get new technology, new equipment, new ideas,” Schaefer said.

One facet of the trade show is that visitors can purchase many items, from cab lights to power units and trailers, at the event.

“It’s a good situation to be in this year because there has been a pent-up demand for a lot of things, for equipment, for supplies. It’s always good to be a buyer’s show,” Schaefer said.

The speaker lineup for the general and breakout sessions reflects the plethora of new rules and regulations with which the trucking industry has had to contend.

“FMCSA has had so many changes. We have Winsome Lenfert from FMCSA, who really has the lay of the land, for the keynote speaker for the Friday morning general session and we are really happy about that,” Schaefer said.

Lenfert is the Midwest director for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Breakout sessions will feature Todd Albright from the Transportation Safety Administration, speaking about the TSA’s “First Observer Plus” security awareness program. The program trains transportation professionals on how to recognize and report suspicious activity, including activity related to terrorism.

At the state level, Omer Osman, director of the Illinois Department of Transportation, is scheduled to speak about future IDOT construction projects that will impact truck traffic.

Schaefer said the breakout sessions include information for employers in the trucking industry, including information on the state’s new Paid Leave for All Workers Act, which took effect Jan. 1.

“We will have our annual economic outlook session, presented by John Benjamin from U.S. Bank. That session always draws a crowd,” he said.

The economy is top of mind for those in the industry, Schaefer said.

“Everyone is watching the economy. That is the No. 1 thing for the industry. We had the big post-COVID rush. Everything had been closed up and people were trying to catch up from that and there was a lot of activity. Now the economy, for the most part, has settled down and, in some cases, has slowed down,” he said.

That slowdown has impacted the trucking industry in different ways.

“That has taken the urgency out of a lot of companies in terms of hiring. It also means, if you are an operator, it gets more competitive. More people are out there, they have trucks and, if they don’t have loads, they’re going to look for them and they’re going to cut their rates. That is always a dilemma that truck operators deal with and we are seeing a lot of that right now,” Schaefer said.

He said that while the industry has largely recovered from the COVID-related impacts, concerns remain.

“There still are fears of a recession. Will we have a recession or will we have a soft landing? That can make all the difference in the world for truck operators,” he said.

Show hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 2, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 3. For more information, visit http://midwesttruckshow.com/.

Jeannine Otto

Jeannine Otto

Field Editor