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This year the International Roofing Expo (IRE) returned to longtime host city Las Vegas after two years in other locations — Orlando in 2012 and San Antonio in 2013 — and welcomed record crowds.

According to Hanley Wood Exhibitions, this year’s expo set records for both total attendance (which includes attendees and exhibitors) and verified attendees (which includes attendees but does not include exhibitors). Tracy Garcia, CEM, IRE show director, stated that the annual tradeshow and conference drew a total attendance of 9,568 — a 13 percent increase over the 2013 show in San Antonio. There was a 20 percent increase in verified attendees over the previous year. First-time registrants made up 35 percent of all attendees.

“With a fresh sense of optimism and excitement, the 2014 International Roofing Expo drew the largest attendance in the show’s history,” said Garcia. “In addition, the tradeshow floor was the largest since 2008.”

Participants came from all segments of the roofing industry, including commercial and residential contractors, builders, remodelers, building owners, facility managers, manufacturers, architects, engineers and other related industry professionals. According to Hanley Wood, attendees represented all 50 states, with the bulk of attendees hailing from California, Texas, Illinois, Colorado, Ohio, Georgia, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Nevada and Michigan. The largest number of international attendees came from Canada, Mexico, Japan, Denmark, Australia, Columbia, China, United Kingdom, Belgium, Ecuador, France and Trinidad  and Tobago. 

The Exhibit Hall

The tradeshow floor was comprised of 1,045 booths, a 6 percent increase over the 2013 show. Of the 426 exhibiting companies, 84 companies were first-time exhibitors, including Certex USA, CUPA USA, Epilay, Kemper System America, National Gypsum Company and VELUX America, just to name a few.

According to Hanley Wood, exhibitors were pleased with the number of leads and inquiries generated during the show. “The 2014 IRE offered the perfect venue for us to reconnect with existing customers and engage with new ones,” said Karen Edwards, marketing director at EagleView Technologies. “Our booth was busy from show open to close, and the attendees were the decision makers that we wanted to reach.”

“This was an outstanding show,” said Nicholas Bryditzki of Sentinel Solar Roof Pumps. “For a small manufacturing company it gave us great exposure, and we were able to make some significant contacts.”

“We were very happy to be a part of the 2014 IRE,” said Karyn Slifka, marketing coordinator at Novagard Solutions. “The number of attendees surpassed our expectations, and we made some great contacts.” 

“This was our first year exhibiting at the IRE, and it exceeded our expectations,” said Brett D. Steinberg, national sales manager, Kemper System America. “The foot traffic and the attendees were the right people we wanted to connect with.”

“The 2014 IRE was the busiest and most successful show in recent history,” said Bill Good, executive vice president of the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA), the show’s official sponsor, who had an 800-square-foot booth at the event. “The roofing industry continues on its path of economic recovery with a positive buzz in the air like hasn’t been felt in several years.”

Educational Conference

In addition to the show floor’s buying and selling activity, the show’s educational conference offered 42 educational sessions addressing a variety of industry issues. A total of 5,807 sessions were sold over the three-day conference, a 45 percent increase over the 2013 show.

Seminar presenters who spoke with Roofing Contractor were pleased with the crowds at their sessions.

Keith Post, Steve Little, Jayne Williams, Brent McFarlin, Tracey Donels and Kelly Lea from KPost Company, a commercial roofing contractor in Dallas, joined forces to explore the ways new technology can make businesses more efficient in a panel discussion titled “Technology: Does it Work?” Their goal was to provide one company’s perspective on the benefits and pitfalls of advances in hardware and software.

“We are constantly looking at innovative ways to do business, and technology is our way of being innovative,” Post said. “Our goals include saving time, being more efficient and allowing communication in multiple ways at a fast pace.”

“Technology has to be viewed as an investment that once was a luxury for roofing contractors but because of today’s rapid business environment has become a necessity,” McFarlin noted. “Ignoring technology will put a contractor at a huge disadvantage against the competition.”

President Steve Little felt his company benefited from holding the session, even as it helped others. “Since we started KPost, we’ve succeeded by collaborating with other businesses from many construction trades, resulting in greater efficiencies and profits at KPost,” Little said. “We will get as much in collaborating as we share with our fellow contractors.”

In “The Environmentally Responsible Building Envelope,” Rick Ruppert and Matt Barmore of Firestone Building Products explored green solutions for optimal building performance, including a focus on how a vegetative roof can contribute to sustainability goals.

“The roof is about more than just keeping out the elements now,” Ruppert said. “It’s a place to improve and optimize the whole building envelope performance, and the focus on sustainability has brought new attention to that.”

The seminar at IRE is an excellent way to get that message out to contractors, noted Barmore. “Manufacturers can help steer contractors toward general industry information — not just product–specific information, but general industry information that will set the contractor up as the educator of the building owner,” he said. “So if that contractor is the one bringing in new knowledge, in a general sense, that sets them up as the thought leader and then they can start talking specifics with the building owner in terms of project needs and direction and that type of thing.”

Greg Hayne, owner of Roof Management, shared his insights during a session titled “How to Sell Preventative Maintenance (And Why You Need To).” Hayne, a roof consultant, believes preventative maintenance can be among the most profitable work in the roofing field. He also found that many roofing contractors simply do not do a good job of selling it, so he designed a course to give contractors the sales tools they need to be more successful.

“If you keep running your business the way you always have, you will find yourself working harder, making less money and probably seeing your market share go down,” said Hayne. “Yet, in the roofing industry, we see roofers that are absolutely flourishing. This is not because they are in some special geographic arena. It is because they are doing things differently. The prime things we see with these companies that sets them apart and accounts for their success is their focus on service. Let’s be clear — there is a difference between having a ‘repair department,’ which fixes leaks, and having a ‘service department,’ which focuses on service. They are not remotely the same thing. Service departments figure out what is in the best interest of their customers and then supply it. Preventative maintenance is in the best interest of their customers.”

Attendees who shared their reactions had positive feedback for the educational sessions.  “I thought this year’s event was outstanding and especially found the educational offerings to be strong in content,” said Chad Collins, president of Bone Dry Roofing Company. “The attendance alone in the educational sessions spoke volumes toward the overall participation at this years’ show.”

“All of the classes I attended were very informative, and we have already started implementing some of the information that we learned in class,” said Brian Moore, residential project manager for Roofmasters Roofing and Sheet Metal. “In my opinion this show surpassed my expectation.”

Show Highlights

The show’s opening day was bookended by an inspirational keynote address by Frank Abagnale and a rousing personal appearance by Kid Rock. Abagnale, the subject of the blockbuster book and movie “Catch Me if You Can,” recounted tales about his incredible youth as a master forger and imposter for a standing-room only audience of more than 1,300. He now works with the FBI and credits his family as his greatest source of inspiration, insisting he’s “done nothing more worthwhile than simply being a good husband and a good father.”

At the close of the first day of the show, GAF invited attendees to have their picture taken with Kid Rock and receive an autographed photo at an event announcing their mutual support of Operation Finally Home, which provides custom-built, mortgage-free homes to America’s Heroes and their widows. Through GAF and Kid Rock’s partnership, GAF will give back to this foundation by including Kid Rock in GAF’s summer contractor promotion. For each promotion entry, GAF will make a donation to Operation Finally Home.

“Our relationship with Kid Rock has been a great experience, as we share some of the same ideals and understand the importance of investing in America and supporting our troops,” said Paul Bromfield, senior vice president of marketing and corporate development at GAF. “GAF has an unparalleled level of investment in new roofing plants, and we are actively working to bring new jobs and services online at our upcoming facility at Cedar City, Utah.” 

At the Product Showcase, a panel of industry experts selected the “Best New Product” and “Best Sustainable Product.” Judges selected first, second and third place winners in each category.

In the Best New Product category, Carlisle SynTec Systems took the top honors for its Sure-Flex KEE HP PVC Membrane. Second place was awarded to Galaxy Energy Americas for its G7 universal standing seam clamp, while third place went to Metal Plus LLC for its Roofer’s Helper bracket.

ER Systems & Elastek was awarded Best Sustainable Product for its ER One Step Coating. Second place in the Best Sustainable Product category was awarded to Polyglass USA for its Polyfresko G SA reflective membrane, and the third-place winner was Freedom Supply for its Roofer’s and Paver’s Edge tar remover.

The Treasure Quest game was a new wrinkle was added to the show in 2014. Participants followed a treasure map to each of the seven participating exhibitors to collect a stamp or a code to plug in the mobile app. Dora Fong of Honolulu Roofing Co. was the winner of a drawing for the top prize of $3,500 cash.

The 2015 International Roofing Expo will be held Feb. 24-26 at the Morial Convention Center in New Orleans. Online housing reservations can be made immediately, and online registration will open in September.


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