More than 3,600 people from 44 countries trekked to Orlando, Fla., for the June 24-27 meeting.

ASSE’s annual gathering continues to grow. Exhibitor space sold for the ‘07 Orlando professional development conference reached 57,950 square feet — besting last year’s 52,780 square feet of exhibitor space sold for the Seattle meeting — and setting a new record for the size of the expo.

More than 400 companies exhibited.

What’s the attraction for safety marketplace vendors?

“We are the gold standard of safety organizations,” says Eddie Greer, past ASSE president, who was recognized at the meeting as a Society Fellow, the highest honor given by ASSE. “I know the vendors like this conference because they are dealing with ‘decision makers’.”

Mark Hansen, another past president, points to the quality of the technical sessions: “We do feedback studies and tailor the sessions accordingly. If you get poor ratings, you don’t get to speak again.”

Hansen, who is director, environmental health and safety for EXCO Resources, Inc.: “It’s kind of like a 401K. At first you are investing a little $$$ and not seeing too much (as an attending ASSE member). You come back and look at it and it’s $100K. We have traction and momentum. After the first year you attend you can’t imagine going anywhere else.”

Said one longtime vendor: “It’s my belief that ASSE continues to grow as a national gathering because it draws decision makers who are both practical and scientific in their approach to safety. We had a friend who said, ‘There are two kinds of safety people: rotor heads and belt buckles.’ ASSE draws both.”