Attendees at this year’s 2024 International Roofing Expo may have been fired up thanks to the Super Bowl, but the end result not only broke records, but teed up 2024 to be a great year for the roofing industry.

More than 15,000 industry professionals headed to Las Vegas for roofing's biggest event, with nearly 600 international and domestic suppliers, manufacturers and others represented at the event – 167 companies making their debut appearance.

“This year’s expo was nothing short of exceptional, exceeding our expectations in every way. With packed exhibit halls, standing-room-only keynote sessions, and an overwhelming enthusiasm to learn and connect, IRE has solidified itself as the most impactful event in the roofing and exteriors industries,” states Rich Russo, show director of International Roofing Expo.

Distributors made extra efforts to show their support for the IRE and its attendees. Multi-level booths towered over the typical skirted tables, and everything from free drinks to fun football-themed contests were enjoyed by booth visitors.

At the new, two-story ABC Supply Co. Inc. booth, the opening crowd caught footballs tossed by ABC representatives, and could sit in its private conference rooms on the second floor to catch up. This, in addition to the distributor’s standard offerings of gift bags and its truck simulator games.

“We love the IRE, we love coming to this, we love seeing our friends, our customers, our supply partners,” said Rich Thompson, vice president of marketing at ABC Supply Co. Inc. “The response has been amazing from our customers.

“We have a passion for this industry. Our co-founders were a husband and wife that owned a roofing company, and the biggest challenge they always had as they were doing jobs throughout the United States was having a relationship with a distributor because there was none,” he added. “They had a dream to build an amazing company, and now we’re almost a thousand locations at this point, 49 states and Canada … so being at the IRE, seeing our friends, seeing our customers, giving back however we can to an industry that treats us well, nothing excites us more.”

ABC Supply also promoted its charitable efforts with Homes For Our Troops, which builds customized homes for post-9/11 veterans who have been severely injured. Last year, the company helped raise $3 million for the organization.

Talking Tech

More than 45 educational sessions were well attended at this year’s expo, covering artificial intelligence, sustainable materials and solar energy, rebuilding and regulatory changes affecting the industry. Technology was at the forefront of everyone’s minds, with the first day’s keynote speaker, Josey Parks, CEO of Total Home Roofing and J Wales Enterprises, addressing how artificial intelligence can be applied to the roofing industry.

John Mike, director of marketing at Beacon Building Products, said traffic to the booth was steady for the first two days, with a lot of younger roofing workers asking for more information.

“Beacon’s been around since 1928, their grandfathers have handed it to their fathers, who have handed it to their sons, and now their grandsons, and they still remember the days, so we’re excited about the future of the industry,” he said.

Specifically, he said visitors to the booth asked about technology that helps them more efficiently handle estimates, measurements and orders.

“People were very interested in the technology, the new technology that’s out there, that helps them manage their business more efficiently, save time, make a little more profit,” he said. “They’re trying to make more with less just like we all are, and the technology tool is available to help them save time.”

Beacon once again saw massive lines at its booth. Last year, the roofing distributor garnered attention with a cowboy hat promotion in Dallas. This year, with the Super Bowl around the corner, Beacon handed out hard hats branded with NFL team logos.

This year’s IRE made extra efforts to embrace inclusivity and diversity. To ensure a welcoming environment for Hispanic contractors, initiatives including bilingual signage, staff and dedicated information kiosks were made available.

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SRS Distribution saw double the attendance from last year at its 'Para Latinos' lounge.

— Photo by Shadi Absi

SRS Distribution had multiple booths on location, from its main hub to the ever-growing Para Latinos lounge, a space meant for Latino and Hispanic contractors to network and learn from one another. Dan Tinker, president and CEO of SRS Distribution, said the number of attendees to the Para Latinos programming doubled from last year.

“What’s nice is it’s not just marketing stuff about our company, it’s training materials and guest speakers from a lot of the manufacturers in the industry, and teaching them things on how to build their business, how to run a better business, how to get into new product lines that they’re not into already,” he said.

He said IRE has set up his company and the roofing industry as a whole for a great 2024.

“Anytime [IRE] is in Vegas it has an extra buzz, and certainly Super Bowl week has created a lot of energy, but the traffic’s been great, we’ve been very happy with that,” Tinker said. “We put out there all the things we want to do: our technology platform, our training platform, investing in our customers to help them grow, see all our friends in the supplier industry, and really see the industry flourishing.”

SRS also held its Raise the Roof Foundation’s annual fundraiser on Feb. 7 at the House of Blues. The event featured performances by legendary rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd, which has sold more than 28 million records in the United States alone; Dierks Bentley; and special guest Tenille Townes.

While other distributors may not have had large booths, there presence was still felt at the IRE. For instance, the Independent Distributor Alliance Corporation, or IDAC, hosted a networking event the Monday before the IRE kicked off, giving its members and others the chance to reconnect or make new connections.

Multiple distributor representatives were also present at other events, including National Women in Roofing Days, also held prior to the IRE. Sarah Weiss, CEO of Elite Roofing Supply, was a presenter at one of the numerous educational sessions held during NWiR Days.

“I think it’s important that the leaders within the industry attend this kind of event and speak on panels and are vulnerable and share real experiences to give people an idea of all the opportunities that are out there,” Weiss said. “Everybody has imposter syndrome, and everybody starts by answering the phones or doing something, and then it’s up to you to know what your trajectory is going to be.”