Relatively Smooth Move-out, Except for a Few Unlucky Exhibitors

picture of a truck backing up

After returning from a wonderful dinner on Wednesday night at 9:30 PM, your humble editor checked in on the LEDucation move-out. All was going as planned, except for a few exhibitors in the 600 row in the grand ballroom: Boyd Lighting, Meteor Lighting, and Spectrum Lighting, to name a few. Their empty crates had not arrived and AEX could not tell them when they would arrive.

The move-out plan called for the Grand Ball Room to be emptied first and those crates were to arrive between 3 PM and 12 AM, as there was an event planned for that ballroom the following day. On Thursday, Americas Hall I, Americas Hall II and The Rhinelander exhibitors were to receive their empty crates between 8 AM and 3 PM.

FEELUX Crate being loaded
FEELUX Crate being loaded

To complicate things, at least one freight elevator was not working again this year. I could not determine if the elevator issue caused as much of an issue as it had in 2023.

The breakdown team from Eklipse (400 row) told me they had an apple air tag in their crate, and the app showed that the crate was in the hotel, even though AEX could not locate it. 

During the show, the large crates are not stored at the hotel, nor are they stored in Manhattan. Some are in New Jersey and others are in Brooklyn. At 10:15 PM, a representative from AEX explained there were 7 trucks that were “here”, but “here” did not mean at the hotel, it meant that one truck was “here” at the hotel, and the other 6 were driving around Manhattan waiting for a turn at the Hilton loading dock.

I overheard portions of call on a speakerphone regarding the transportation:

  • “There is a truck in the loading dock but in 15 minutes he runs out of hours.”
  • “There are six trucks coming and every truck that comes, they need to open it up and find out where the fxx@ing ballroom crates are.”
  • “One by one, go through each truck and look at each crate.”

Around 10:30 PM, Hanson Chen from Meteor Lighting and I approached the loading dock in search of their missing crate. There, we encountered Blair Hutkin of Authentic Design Collection on a similar quest. At that moment, a truck arrived on 54th Street between the Hilton Midtown and the Conrad and brought traffic to a standstill. First there was one horn, then a second and then what sounded like 10 car horns. Then they would stop. A minute later they would start again.

Then the truck began to reverse, vehicles behind it were forced to retreat as well. More honking. Complications arose from a strategically placed car with traffic cones on the Hilton side and a purple delivery truck on the Conrad side, creating a challenging situation for the semi-truck driver trying to turn 90 degrees to enter the loading dock without jackknifing. The task was further hindered by the Conrad’s canopy, which loomed close with each backing attempt. Hanson observed the driver make 16 careful reversals followed by pull-forwards and wheel-cuts to adjust the truck’s position. On the 17th try, the driver successfully maneuvered into the dock.

The doors of the truck had been open during the backing process. Within 30 seconds of the truck arriving at the dock. A forklift pulled the first crate, and a second forklift was on hand to move it into the building. Unfortunately, we learned that these were for the Americas Hall and not the 600 row that everyone was expecting.

Eklipse Crate Finally Located
Eklipse Crate Finally Located


At 11:45 PM , my exhaustion took over, and I went to bed. I received a text from Eklilpse at 12:15 AM that their crate had been located. Hanson texted me that the Meteor crate arrived at 1:00 AM.

On Thursday morning, by 6:30 AM, I had made my way downstairs to find the AEX team still at work, the same crew present when I had left at 11:45 PM the previous night. The equipment from the exhibitors that had not received crates had been moved from the Ball Room and was behind a curtain where the AEX station had been.

At noon on Thursday, I again returned to the hotel, and there were crates in Americas Hall 1, Americas Hall 2 and the Rhinelander, with crews hard at work packing their crates.

LEDucation co-chair Jamie Eck explained, “There was an issue with a trailer being improperly labeled; therefore the crates on that trailer did not make it to the Grand Ballroom. AEX has spoken to the exhibitors; apologies were made, and an offer to pack and load the booths were made to relieve the teams on site.”

Jamie went on to say that “AEX did a tremendous job for us given the amount and size of the booths from this year’s show. It was obviously unprecedented in size, and the team worked around the clock to get the show off in time and unloaded quickly.”

The vast majority of exhibitors in the Grand Ball Room had their crates within a few hours of the show ending. There were about 6 that did receive their crates after the midnight deadline, and everything on Thursday appeared to be moving smooth. While I hate it for the six companies, it wasn’t bad given the huge logistical nightmare that is faced moving in and out the Hilton Midtown.