RC Q&A: An Inside Look at the 2015 Western Roofing Expo
The Western Roofing Expo is annually one of the best-attended gatherings of roofing contractors, manufacturers, suppliers and consultants in the industry. Last year’s official attendance of 2,595 proved to be the largest draw in the show’s 40-year history. And organizers anticipate a similar crowd to fill the Paris Las Vegas Hotel and Casino from June 14-17 for three days of seminars, networking and friendly competition with the expansion of The Roofing Games™.
Pulling it off every year requires a true team effort, and Roofing Contractor recently talked with the expo’s chief planners about what to expect this year and what to look forward to for 2016.
RC: What are you most looking forward to this year, and what’s your favorite part of the show?
Director of Exposition and Events Joel Viera: We’re looking forward to the new opportunities that we’re providing for our attendees and exhibitors this year. For the first time, we’ve put a major emphasis on CEUs being offered for those who attend our educational seminars. In fact, 10 of our 16 presentations have CEU credits attached to them. Hopefully, that will bring more serious-minded contractors to the expo and the seminars. We’ll also be session capturing all of our seminars for the first time and offering them to WSRCA members on our website. We’re also thrilled to expand The Roofing Games to both days of the trade show. Day one will feature a team event with teams of two facing off in a low-slope flashings challenge that’s organized by Duro-Last Roofing. To close the show out on day two, we’re bringing back the exciting nailing and shingling competition that’s organized by our friends at Malarkey Roofing Products. All attendees can apply to compete by visiting the Duro-Last and Malarkey booths, and before each event they’ll conduct a lottery to draw names of the competitors. Prizes include cash, tools, registration for next year’s event, trophies and, most importantly, bragging rights that the winner is the Best in the West!
Director of Design and Communication Chris Alberts: I look forward to seeing all of our hard work pay off. For 11 and a half months out of the year, we plan, sell, advertise, email, promote and do all the many things necessary for the Western Roofing Expo to be a success. It’s nice to see it all come together in three days. As the person who does the majority of the marketing for the expo, I also like to see how successful we were in drawing attendees to our event. Last year, for the 40th anniversary, we had the best show in our history as far as attendance figures go. I’m hoping 2015 will continue that trend and put us on the map as being the best regional roofing show in the country.
RC: What’s the most challenging part of putting this event together annually?
JV: This will be my 14th Western Roofing Expo. The biggest challenges that we encounter are keeping the expo fresh with new ideas and better processes while not losing our identity. Our show has been successful for many years, we have great personal relationships with our exhibiting companies and members, and we are cautious to not grow so quickly that we lose those relationships and become too sterile or corporate. Partnerships, friendships and loyalty ultimately trump overextending ourselves and losing what makes us so good at what we do — and that’s to deliver outstanding customer service and provide our exhibitors and attendees with ROI.
CA: Hard to believe, but yes, as of this August, I’ll have been with WSRCA for 12 full years. I agree with Joel, the most challenging obstacle we encounter year after year is keeping the expo fresh with new ideas and quality programs. I think our board of directors and executive committee do an amazing job putting together educational seminars that are relevant to real issues facing roofing contractors in the West. When you pair solid education with fun events like our Lively Silent Auction, in my mind that makes attendees want to come back. Plus, I think smart contractors are always looking for ways to stay on top of the industry, and our trade show floor is packed with the latest equipment and products used in the market today. Just by attending the show, you have the opportunity to network with peers, educate yourself and improve your roofing business, all in a fun-filled environment. What’s not to like?
RC: You make a concerted effort to keep the show comprehensive, multi-dimensional and relevant to companies in multiple areas of the industry. How do you go about doing that, while also maintaining the ‘good roofing fun’ mentality?
JV: We have an outstanding team here at WSRCA. We have a veteran staff, with three of our five employees having more than a decade of experience. We have a supportive and dedicated board of directors that’s open to new ideas and processes to improve the expo. The board works hard on ensuring the seminars and speakers are the very best in quality, and that the presentations are relevant and timely for our attendees. We are also very lucky to have a fantastic associate advisory council comprised of 17 exhibiting companies that provide us with fresh ideas to help the WRE grow, but more importantly to provide us with constructive criticism on how to improve. Their feedback is critical in our effort to continuously grow and improve the experience for exhibitors and attendees alike. It’s a big team, but it’s rewarding to see everyone rowing the oars together with a common goal.
CA: It definitely takes a team effort to make all this happen. Everyone from the staff, to the board of directors and our technical advisors at WSRCA contribute to making the show comprehensive, relevant and a solid all-around experience. Joel’s correct, our associate advisory provides us with fantastic first-hand feedback on things that went well and things that need to be improved on. And yes, absolutely, their feedback helps us grow as a show. Whether it’s a new registration process (we just recently went 100 percent online), new advertising and promotional opportunities, or just “Hey, this or that was great or not so great,” we take it all in and try to improve every year. I think The Roofing Games is a good example of one of those fresh ideas that keep the show both interesting and fun. To see roofers compete in a live, team versus team atmosphere brings a whole new element to your traditional trade-show environment.
RC: What do you hope people will take away from the overall experience?
JV: We hope that our attendees walk away with knowledge on how to better run their businesses and what new products and services have hit the market while having fun at the Western Roofing Expo. We try our best to have a good blend of education and fun at the expo. Events like our Lively Silent Auction, our golf and sporting clays tournaments, exhibitor raffles, parties hosted by our exhibiting partners, our keynote luncheon and The Roofing Games are all events that provide a good break from the more serious elements.
CA: I hope people walk away thinking, “That was well worth my time, effort and money.” Hopefully attendees had a good time and enjoyed Las Vegas for all it has to offer, but learned about vital issues affecting the industry, and how they should respond to stay successful and in compliance with state and federal codes. It’s also my hope that contractors learn how to expand their bottom line while keeping their quality and safety standards high. Maybe it’s by learning a new type of installation to expand their bottom line or ways to keep their crews safe on the roof — whatever can be taken home and implemented right away. I hope they gain that by attending, as well.
RC: When do you begin planning 2016, and what can we look forward to?
JV: We’ve already begun the process of selling exhibit space for 2016. However, many of the decisions for 2016 will be discussed and finalized in July and August at our executive planning meeting and our summer board of directors meetings. While nothing is set in stone yet, I can promise that we’ll continue to raise the bar to improve everything that we do.
CA: Oh man! I haven’t gotten to even thinking about 2016 yet! I think we switch gears from one year to the next pretty much right after the expo is finished. It’s like arriving at the top of the mountain after a long hike: once you get there, you take a minute to exhale and breathe it in after all that climbing. I know Joel is already setting up the floor plan for 2016 and working hard at selling available booth space. Our executive committee and technical advisors are already planning some seminars and some follow-up seminars to this year’s show, but it’s still a bit early for us to know 100 percent what’s going to be addressed for 2016. I do know that whatever the issues are affecting roofing contractors in the West, big or small, our board of directors are very “grass roots,” if you will, when it comes to being connected to the industry, and will address these obstacles with the idea that the Western Roofing Expo is a great forum to improve the industry.
For more information about the WSRCA or the Western Roofing Expo, visit www.wsrca.com.