Roofing industry professionals gathered in New Orleans at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center Feb. 24-26 to participate in three days of education, networking and exhibits at the 2015 International Roofing Expo (IRE).

According to Show Director Tracy Garcia, the tradeshow drew a total attendance of 9,337. “Exhibitors enjoyed steady traffic as they introduced hundreds of new and innovative products to high-caliber decision makers,” she said. Participants came from all segments of the industry.

Representatives from many of the top U.S. roofing and construction companies were in attendance. All 50 states were represented, with the bulk of attendees from Texas, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Georgia, Ohio, Florida and Mississippi. The largest number of international attendees came from Canada, Mexico and South Korea. “My experience was fantastic because I have never seen such a large amount of roofing products together!” said Dino Vasquez of Mapei SpA, Milano, Italy.

First-time registrants made up 42 percent of all attendees. “We had an awesome first year at the IRE. There were a lot of great vendors, great products and great people,” said Cody Taylor of SupplyHog. “We look forward to coming back next year.”

Returning attendees shared the same enthusiasm. “This was my seventh year attending, and I feel the IRE continues to improve yearly,” said Robert Andreu of Hunter Warfield. “The location, vendors and show management each exceeded my expectations.”

Innovative Products

The tradeshow floor was comprised of 1,178 booths, a 13 percent increase over the 2014 show. New, value-added services and ideas in roofing materials and related products were displayed on the show floor.

Exhibitors were pleased with the number of leads and inquiries generated during the show. “IRE 2015 was a huge success,” said Nick Wood of JobNimbus. “It exceeded our expectations by at least three times in terms of meeting new and existing customers and making great partner connections.”

Karen Edwards of EagleView Technologies agreed, saying,     “The IRE is the most important show of the year for us to engage our customers in person and showcase our new products and technologies. We expect to see a great return on investment.”

Eighty-seven of the 465 exhibiting companies were first-time exhibitors, including Houzz, Ford Motor Company, Gaussan Technologies, Viewpoint Construction Software and Viking Barriers.

“Business is strong within the roofing industry,” said Bill Good, executive vice president of the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA), the show’s official sponsor. “The enthusiasm was evident throughout the buying and selling activity on the show floor.”

“I have attended since 1980 and for a good reason.” said Alan Meier of Hi Tec Roofing Services. “Once each year, I get to spend a few days gathering valuable information and resources. It’s hard to imagine being in the roofing business and not being a member of the NRCA or attending the IRE each year.”

Educational Sessions

The educational conference offered 44 sessions addressing a variety of industry issues. Among the many sessions was a timely presentation on employee retention and development. Monroe Porter, president of Proof Management Consultants, spoke to a packed conference room in a session titled, “How to Find, Train, Motivate & Retain Employees.” He covered the importance of defining leadership as influencing others to accomplish organizational goals; weighing the importance of the traditional basics for motivating people; effective on-the-job coaching; obstacles to success; conflict resolution; productivity; and performance realities.

Green Roof Professional Angie Durham of AD Greenroof LLC provided an informative talk on “Getting to Know Green Roofs.” She outlined green-roof advantages, life-cycle costs, varieties of systems, performance parameters, and selecting customers and building candidates. She challenged attendees to consider plants as “living architecture” in the urban environment that provide a positive impact. Durham also focused on the many positive features of green roofs, including energy savings, membrane longevity, reduced building costs, improved air quality, storm water management, LEED certification and aesthetics.

“I come to the IRE each year to reconnect with friends in the industry while getting the best roofing-specific education from an extensive list of seminars offered each morning,” said Rob Therrien of The Melanson Co.

Steve Pike of White Stone 1998 agreed, saying, “The IRE show is extremely valuable to our company because the seminars are packed full of useful information that we can apply immediately to improve our bottom line in 2015. We are very busy with our business, but this is time well spent.”

Show Standouts

On the show floor, attendees found new products and ideas featured at the Metal Marketplace with 70 booths, the Business & Technology Pavilion with 49 booths, and Exhibitor Product Clinics from OMG, Equipter and Tremco. Additional learning opportunities were available through The Roofing Institute, sponsored by Johns Manville.

At the Product Showcase, attendees were able to see, try and compare the latest products in three categories: New, Sustainable and Made in the USA. Based on innovation, productivity and cost effectiveness, a panel of industry experts awarded Leister Technologies’ UNIROOF E 40 MM - 120V/15A with Best New Product, while Tie Down Engineering’s Roof Zone – RZ Guardrail was awarded Best Sustainable Product.

Attendees also had the opportunity to find new products and meet new exhibitors while playing the Treasure Quest game. Wesley Stienecker of Nitro Roofing & Construction won $2,000 after his name was drawn from a pool of attendees who visited each of the 10 participating sponsors.

A pre-show Community Service Day was held on Monday, Feb. 23, where 50 attendees and exhibitors enthusiastically volunteered to help renovate the homes of two retirees in need. Roofing Contractor was on hand to cover the event and witness the improvements. Also in attendance was the new NRCA president, Lindy Ryan, senior vice president of Tecta America Southeast LLC, Sanford, Fla. The first-ever woman president of the organization, Ryan gladly braved the cold and windy conditions to lend a hand in giving back to the New Orleans community.

The newly formed Women in Roofing (WinR) council hosted a reception on the eve of the show. A council of the Midwest Roofing Contractors Association (MRCA), WinR is dedicated to promoting the growth and leadership of females in the roofing industry. The event hosted more than 100 women roofing professionals and their guests, and a leadership team was introduced.

Co-chair Heidi Ellsworth of EagleView Technologies addressed the gathering and said, “All women roofing professionals nationally are invited to network and get involved with this growing organization. We are excited and humbled by the outpouring of support and enthusiasm for this initiative. Thanks to the MRCA, we will be offering these types of networking opportunities around the country throughout the year.”

The show’s opening day featured a motivating Keynote Address by Ken Schmidt, former brand visionary at Harley-Davidson, who shared his expertise on brand building, corporate positioning and customer relations. Later that day, attendees networked while enjoying food and drinks at the opening-night Welcome Party.

Save the Date

The 2016 International Roofing Expo will be held Feb.17-19 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. Housing reservations may be made online beginning in May. Online attendee registration opens in September.