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NASS: Supplier Company Exhibitors Grow 50% in 5 Years

Correction, 10/3/17: The exhibits in this article were revised due to incomplete data.

Like some of you, we're gearing up for NASS, the 32nd Annual Meeting of the North American Spine Society. And, like you, our goals for NASS have changed over the years as our business has evolved. Five years ago, we were spending more time with entrepreneurially-minded surgeons and connecting device company executives with spine market data. We’re still doing that. But in recent years, we've found ourselves meeting more of our supplier customers at NASS. Each year we felt like the supplier presence was growing, but more pressing priorities prevented us from taking a head count. Well, we just couldn’t ignore it anymore.

Who is exhibiting at NASS this year? Using the NASS 2013 Final Program and the 2017 online list, we did a quick analysis. The results of the exercise are going to help us set our priorities for the conference—and we thought they might do the same for you, at least insofar as setting your exhibit floor priorities. Our sense of the supplier growth proved accurate, as shown in Exhibit 1 below. In five events over five years, the number of supplier exhibitors has increased by 51%. It’s true that the number of OEMs has grown, but far more slowly. One could assert that the slower pace of OEM growth is partially attributable to M&A, and they’d likely be correct (we didn’t dive into deep detail), but let’s not forget the robust M&A activity on the supplier side, as well.

Exhibit 1: NASS Exhibitors 2017 vs. 2013

 Exhibitor Type

 NASS 2017 

 NASS 2013 

 # Change 

 % Change 

 OEM (device, biologic)





 Supplier/Service Provider to OEM





 Braces, pharma, misc. non-device





 Society, Publisher





 Total Exhibitors






Exhibit 2: NASS Exhibitors 2013 vs. 2017 by Company Type

NASS 2013 Exhibitors by Company Type

NASS 2017 Exhibitors by Company Type

2013 NASS

blue square OEM (device, biologic)

red square Supplier, Service
    Provider to OEM

green square Braces, pharma, misc.

purple square Society, Publisher

2017 NASS pie

blue square OEM (device, biologic)

red square Supplier, Service
    Provider to OEM

green square Braces, pharma, misc.

purple square Society, Publisher


We’re curious about WHY suppliers exhibit at NASS. Are they educating surgeons on materials, processes, new developments and the exciting work of actually making the products that they implant? Suppliers have plenty of perspective to share on current and future spine innovation. Or are they seeking out new business from the OEMs manning booths? Are they doing business with each other? Are they considering providing a portion of their offerings direct to surgeons, hospitals and ASCs? The latter wouldn’t surprise us, given the intense level of regulatory and quality mandates they’re operating under. At the end of the day, we suspect it’s all of the above, but we aim to get some direct voice of customer during our time at the meeting. We’ll be making our way around and spending some time in our booth (ORTHOWORLD Booth 1433). Stop by and share your view. Or, just have a seat and take a load off. We’ll supply the reading material!

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