Networking a success for crowd at Exposure

Though organizers of the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce's Exposure event were expecting a higher attendance than last year, some exhibitors thought the traffic Thursday at the annual business-to-business event was lighter than last year.

"It seems a little slower, not quite as big a crowd," said George Sherman, branch director of Conference Technologies, which was exhibiting at the event for a third consecutive year.

The crowds at Century II's Expo Hall may have been thinner, but Bill Ramsey said he felt the networking going on between exhibitors was more meaningful than in past years, which could ultimately mean new business opportunities for his company, the Bill Guy Technology Solutions.

Ramsey blamed the rain — and not a local economy still wrestling through the worst national recession in decades — for what he thought was lighter attendance.

"I really think the weather is the contributing factor," he said.

There were 193 exhibitors at Exposure, up 30 percent from last year.

Angie Elliott, the chamber's manager of business programming and events, said Thursday afternoon she was expecting about 2,000 people to attend but she didn't yet have exact attendance and didn't want to guess as to whether it was higher, lower or about the same as last year.

Dixie Larson and Candace Wilson said the networking at this year's Exposure was better than in previous years.

"People are trying harder to develop business," said Larson, a principal at Kennedy and Coe.

Larson said people were taking more time to have meaningful conversations rather than saying quick hellos to one another and moving on.

"The networking has been amazing," said Wilson, director of corporate marketing at Geotechnical Services.

It was Melvin Watson's first year at Exposure and his was arguably one of the busiest booths. That's because his company, My Dad's BBQ Catering, was serving ribs and pulled pork.

His company runs a restaurant at 1332 N. Cleveland. But Watson is looking to expand his corporate catering business, hence his presence at this year's Exposure.

By 2 p.m., Watson estimated he had served at least 750 people.

"There have been lots of people who came through and didn't know we existed," he said.