DALLAS — The old adage is that everything is bigger in Texas, and true to form, the 2020 International Roofing Expo (IRE) experienced a record breaking event in Dallas.

“The 2020 IRE has once again exceeded attendees’ expectations. With a record crowd, record number of exhibitors and record attendance at the education classes, the IRE has become the must attend event of the year,” said Reid Ribble, National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) CEO. “Plan now to attend the 2021 IRE in Las Vegas.”

Held Feb. 4-6 at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas, the IRE is the premiere roofing construction and maintenance event. Roofing professionals from across the globe gathered to explore new products and services, participate in educational sessions, and experience face-to-face interaction with their industry peers.

Going Big in Dallas

The IRE returned to Dallas for the first time since 1988 and had another record-breaking year with 17,060 in attendance. The exhibit hall continued to expand with 170,980 square feet of booth space featuring over 541 companies displaying thousands of products and services. Booth space sales for 2021 also opened on-site at the show and next year’s event is already 80% sold out.

This year’s event included over 44 educational sessions as part of the conference program. Attendees went to sessions that covered technical skills, business management, industry trends, legal, safety, sales, marketing and more. The NRCA hosted some of its most popular sessions including CERTA Train-the-Trainer, Fall Protection from A to Z, and Foreman Leadership Training classes.

“Cutting-edge education, influential show-floor demos, and emerging technology helped to drive record numbers at IRE 2020,” said Ray Giovine, group director for IRE.

In addition to a strong core conference program, those in attendance participated in over 35 free sessions on the show floor. Areas like the GAF Education Center, The Roofing Institute sponsored by Johns Manville — an exhibitor-presented seminar classroom — provided solution-based sessions to help roofing professionals learn new ways to tackle everyday problems.

The show floor was also packed with live product demonstrations where attendees could learn tips and tricks and ask questions to product professionals.

During expo hall hours, attendees headed to the parking lot to experience special outdoor events. SRS Distribution hosted its SRS Extreme Tailgate Party where attendees could enjoy a beverage and cigar with their senior management team. Lifting Equipment Solutions conducted live crane demos, while Duro-Last demonstrated some of their top products. Attendees could also watch as roof system installers took their hands-on NRCA ProCertification exams.

Diversity and Community Service

The IRE hosted its first-ever female keynote speaker, sponsored by Malarkey Roofing Products. Charlotte Jones, the Dallas Cowboys executive vice president and chief brand officer, shared strategies about setting high expectations, the pressure to deliver and continuing to raise the bar. Jones’ session was moderated by Brad Sham, the voice of the Dallas Cowboys.

National Women in Roofing (NWIR) hosted its third annual one-day conference program designed for multidisciplinary women professionals in the roofing industry to learn about the latest business strategies and tactics and share their secrets to success.

“With a sold out third annual NWIR Day, we are so pleased to be able to use the resources of our sponsors, the interest of our members, and the passion of our board of directors to empower women in the roofing industry,” said Ellen Thorp, NWIR executive director; and Jennifer Stone of Johns Manville, NWIR co-chair, in a joint statement.

On Feb. 2, the IRE, in conjunction with Rebuilding Together, hosted the 11th Annual Community Service Day, sponsored by Sika Sarnafil. More than 65 volunteers helped residents with various repairs, including new roofs, interior ceilings, exterior siding and even some outdoor projects at an elementary school, including garden sheds.

“It was a big day with a lot of moving parts and the volunteers jumped in and worked incredibly hard to get everything done,” said Garrett Jones, executive director of Rebuilding Together in North Texas. “The last part of our mission statement is that we are rebuilding lives and that’s exactly what was accomplished during the service day. Lives were changed that day and there will be a lasting impact of the work completed during the service day. It was a beautiful day.”

In addition to materials being donated by many manufacturers, K-Post Roofing & Waterproofing and CertainTeed donated materials and labor to install a new roof on one of the homes. Sika Sarnafil provided Rebuilding Together North Texas with a donation of $15,000.

Networking Opportunities

There was no shortage of networking events at this year’s IRE. First-time attendees gathered together for the opportunity to connect at a reception on Feb. 3. On Feb. 4, the IRE hosted its annual Welcome Party sponsored by Tremco. Held at the Bomb Factory in Deep Ellum, the party featured music from local Hall & Oates cover band, The Rich Girls.

The NRCA also hosted its annual Industry Awards Ceremony and Cocktail Reception, and NRCA ROOFPAC partnered with NWIR to present “An Evening in the Lone Star State,” a three-hour reception featuring a live auction and comedy show.

A new interactive show feature, Regina the Roofer, debuted at this year’s IRE. As the show’s chatbot, she was available on the IRE website and through SMS text messaging. This feature allowed IRE participants the ability to send her questions about the event and receive an instant response.

“We are beyond thrilled with the level of interaction Regina received pre-show and onsite,” said Shelby Snelson, IRE show manager. “Providing attendees and exhibitors with instant access to show details was a great way for us to improve our level of service we provide them.”

The IRE will return to the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas from Feb. 24-26, 2021. Attendees can expect a new Siding and Window Pavilion that will include manufacturers and suppliers showcasing products that service these segments.

Registration for the 2021 IRE will open this fall. Attendees can sign up for the IRE newsletter at www.theroofingexpo.com. Exhibitors interested in booking a booth at the event can contact the IRE account executive team at sales@theroofingexpo.com.