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METALCON International returned to the Chicago area this year with a new look and a new educational format that offered longer, more in-depth 3-hour sessions. Feedback from attendees and exhibitors proves the changes were successful, according to show management.
“We tried some new things this year to better serve our audience and feedback from attendees is that the longer sessions in the conference program really helped understand the topics and to make better business decisions,” said Claire Kilcoyne, show director for METALCON International. “The majority of exhibitors had a very successful show and a testament to that is we already have 87 percent of the space booked for the 2013 show in Atlanta. We heard from several people that the exhibit hall arrangement, with live demos spread throughout, also worked well.”
METALCON is the only annual trade show and conference focused on the application of metal in industrial, institutional, light commercial and residential building projects. Produced by Newton, Mass.-based PSMJ Resources Inc. and sponsored by the Metal Construction Association, this year’s event was held Oct. 9-11 at the Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Ill., and drew 5,267 visitors.
Educational Sessions Target Growth Areas
The METALCON conference program featured a new format designed to offer more in-depth learning opportunities in the classroom and on the exhibit floor. It moved from a traditional 1.5-hour multi-track program to 3-hour sessions tailored to specific disciplines.
Several of the sessions were specifically targeted to growth areas in the metal market, such as retrofit projects, insulated metal panels (IMPs) and cold-formed steel framing.
“In researching topics and speakers for this year’s program we recognized several areas of growth,” Kilcoyne said. “Retrofit, IMPs and cold-formed steel framing seemed to stand out as topics we needed to cover in depth. So we put together new programs tailored to specific disciplines. It’s all aimed at meeting the needs of the professionals who want to design and build with metal and come to METALCON to do that.”
Insulated metal panels, known for their superior thermal efficiency, were featured in a comprehensive session titled “Capture Your Part of the Growing Insulated Metal Panel Market With the Right Applications, Products and Techniques,” sponsored by the Metal Building Institute and presented by Steve Webster, president of Dutton & Garfield, Inc., in Hampstead, N.H., and Ken Buchinger, vice president of business development and research and development for MBCI in Houston.
According to Webster, the program was right on the mark. “We had 30 people in the insulated metal panel session and it was very interactive. The session format allowed us to provide good technical content as well as real world examples. Many of the attendees were new to insulated metal panels and about half of them were there to learn about this expanding market. In the application techniques part, our examples of safe erection equipment and methods were well received. Overall, there were a lot of technical questions about performance of the insulated metal panels, especially energy efficiency. It was obvious that the quality of the final in-place product is paramount, and the proper application of the products in the field is critical. We definitely need to run this session again.”
Sessions on retrofit also captivated their audience. Scott Kriner, LEED AP, president of Green Metal Consulting, Inc., Macungie, Pa., and Chuck Howard, P.E., president of Metal Roof Consultants, Inc., Cary, N.C ., were presenters of these sessions.
“The longer sessions allowed us to provide a lot of content and the panel discussion that involved a contractor was excellent,” said Kriner. “We had good interaction with participants and we pointed out product lines but not specific products that contractors could see in the exhibit hall. With different presenters covering several areas, none of the attendees were bored – and they all came back after the break, so we know they were interested.
“This was a great format,” Howard added. “It offered more opportunity for Q and A and made this one of the best sessions we’ve had in 10 years. Also expanding topics was fantastic. Retrofit roofing has been relevant at METALCON since its inception in 1991, but combining it with energy and Galvalume information gave the audience a larger scope on all the valuable aspects of retrofit. We also decided to not use handouts but to send the information electronically to all participants. Handouts are often a distraction that takes away from participating. With all the information we were providing, we kept them busy, so they were bright, alert and asking for more. We knew this was valuable for building owners, but found that more contractors attended. The result is that now these contractors understand — and endorse — the potential that retrofit offers so they can sell the idea to owners.”
The Metal Construction Association’s demos also drew large crowds, according to Dale Nelson, president of Roof Hugger and coordinator of the demos for MCA. “The MCA demos were a great way to tie together much of the information presented during the educational seminars,” Nelson said. “The demos not only show the nuts and bolts of how various systems are installed, but it allows the attendee a chance to more accurately visualize the systems. The hands-on format and follow-up questioning provide a clear understanding to owners, salespeople and design professionals how various roof-related products can be of benefit to them.”
Great Feedback From Exhibitors
Most exhibitors are already planning for the 2013 show, according to METALCON’s exhibit sales director, Paulo Gomes-da Costa. “The 2013 sign-up process was outstanding due to the excellent show in Chicago. Many exhibitors noted that they had received more qualified leads than ever before, which is why we are already well booked for 2013. This includes some new exhibitors who came to view the 2012 show. We are very excited about the new ideas we are implementing for the 2013 METALCON. For me personally, it was great to meet many of the exhibitors in person. They made the show a resounding success and I thank them for welcoming me to the industry.”
Exhibitors that were especially busy included metal suppliers and those exhibiting roll forming equipment and green products, noted Kilcoyne.
Renee Ramey, marketing manager for Steelscape, Inc., Kalama, Wash., said, “We had more contact with qualified steel buyers and foot traffic in our booth than at any previous METALCON. By the end of the second day it was a success for us because of the quality of the leads. It’s also a sign of the industry’s continued growth and good health.”
Mike Smith, president of Tennsmith, McMinnville, Tenn., said there was a lot of activity at his booth. “We’re very excited about this show,” he said. “We’ve exhibited in two or three METALCONs and this was the best. It’s our first show as a combined Tennsmith and Roper Whitney company so we had more offerings and more variety in the audience. We saw all of the types of people we want — suppliers, metal builders, and roofers. They were all very qualified, so we closed numerous orders right at the show.”
Bryan Brillhart is the international sales manager for Van Mark Products Corp., Farmington Hills, Mich., which introduced a portable, jobsite slitter/rib former and perforating tool at the show. “Our booth was consistently busy all three days of METALCON. The audiences for our unique jobsite metal forming tools are primarily contractors and distributors. Our tools target metal roofing, metal building companies and frame builders as well. A good percentage, about 15-20 percent, of those who stopped by are contractors who are current users. It’s a good time for us to interact with them and discuss applications and ideas.”
Joe Repovs, founder of SAMCO Machinery Ltd., Toronto, also appreciates the opportunity to talk with end users. “It’s been another great show for us and we celebrated our 40th anniversary,” he said. “We got to see all of our customers in three short days and dialogue with them. It’s a chance to learn about their plans going forward and to introduce them to our new products.”
For green product manufacturers and participants in Solar Bay, the show offered education and sales opportunities. Jerry Heininger, CSI, a presenter at Solar Bay Live and Coordinator of Environmental Products for Englert Environmental, Perth Amboy, N.J., kept busy throughout the show. “Traffic was very good. Our display showing our solar sandwich system drew people in because they wanted to know how the system works. It’s much like a real sandwich where the meat in the middle is the metal roof that acts as the integrator for both the Solar PV and Thermal Technologies. We had a lot of interest in the concept, so we were educating as well as selling during the three-day conference. It’s our first time as a standalone display. Previously we were in the Englert booth.”
GREEN SPAN Profiles, Waller, Texas, also had a great show, according to Brian Jaks, vice president of sales and marketing for the company. “The first two days were very busy with good quality leads. The last day was 60 percent lighter but equally as good in quality. We were doing a lot of educating contractors about the value of IMPs. We see IMPs as the future of the industry and they agree with us. We exhibited in METALCON last year with McElroy Metal. This is our first year as a standalone and we’ll be back next year in Atlanta for sure,” Jaks said.
McElroy Metal Inc., Bossier City, La., is a partner in Green Span Profiles, which now manufactures its diverse line of insulated wall panel profiles and a standing seam roof profile in the Texas facility.
For more information, visit www.metalcon.com.