February 25, 2010 – from 33,000 feet
On a slightly-delayed flight back to Atlanta from the 2010 hometown of the International Roofing Expo(IRE), New Orleans, Louisiana.


February 25, 2010 – from 33,000 feet

On a slightly-delayed flight back to Atlanta from the 2010 hometown of the International Roofing Expo (IRE), New Orleans, Louisiana. As always, the several days of meetings, seminars, trade show touring and all the rest have left me whipped. I always look forward to the IRE and I am always just a little glad to see them in the rearview mirror.

All in the 2010 version of the IRE was really fantastic as it had:

·  Much better attendance than many had expected
·  The attendees with a positive outlook outweighed the ones with a negative outlook (more on that later)
·  Plenty of good things to do from start to finish
·  Full of learning experiences: in the seminars, on the trade-show floor, and even at several venues on Bourbon Street
·  Some great new experiences such as the Community Service Day
·  More great ideas for Roofing Contractor to turn into new media to serve the industry
·  Discussion on some new challenges facing the roofing industry
·  Yet another discussion with Jimmy Yundt about that book on the roofing industry that has him inspired (and I have to write)
·  A chance to meet Ms. Madison McElhaney who turned out to be even cuter in person than in her many digital images
·  Many, many great grab-‘n-grin meetings… too many to count… but all appreciated
·  The chance to look change in the eye as folks who have served as industry leaders as long as I can remember told of their new adventures
·  A look at industry leaders emerging to fill roles about which they are justifiably and genuinely excited
·  Plenty of bright-eyed inventors and entrepreneurs who spent every moment of the event repeating the same story of their great new product or gadget

Several “bests” for the event this year, and only a few “worsts”…

Best:


·  Seeing so many of my associates from JGA and numerous Beacon Roofing Supply companies since the company planned meetings (and it was a ‘drive-in’ for a number of our managers)
·  Having a great dinner with my good friends Bob & Gerry of Evans Roofing Company (as well as another dozen of their closest friends)
·  Being able to spend some quality time with my editor, Chris King, on the last evening of the IRE
·  Getting together with a small but really sharp and talented group to learn about a new initiative by the Center for Environmental Innovation in Roofing (we will report on that very soon)
·  Having the opportunity to thank my publisher, Jill Bloom, for continuing to put up with me
·  Also thanking Architectural Roofing and Waterproofing publisher, Rob Krauss, for allowing me to make a small contribution to the IRE issue of that fine publication
·  Playing a small role in the publication of the show daily – Roofing Contractor On Site… chasing around half the show the first hour and a half it was open with Marcia Wright was a real blast
·  Catching up with two of our top columnists, Rick Davis and Monroe Porter

Worst:

·  Missed the reception for Reid Ribble, a Wisconsin roofing contractor running for Congress (but did send in some $upport so it was not all bad)
·  The weather was not the usual “perfect” for this time of year in New Orleans (not that bad either because it was certainly better than it was back home in Atlanta)
·  Missed a lot of other events, such as the reception for the “Future Executives” for NRCA – just cannot be in but one place at a time

Some other miscellaneous observations and notes:

·  For an economy mired in recession, the mood among the business leaders at the IRE was notably optimistic… not unrealistically so… just not negative as one might suspect
·  Folks are really OK with being able to maintain their business (translation: no growth) for now and be satisfied to wait for better times to come along
·  While most firms are very much “engaged” in their business and looking for ways to grow, I sensed that research and development in the conventional product and equipment category (not solar) has just about ground to a halt
·  Not as many truly new and innovative products as last year and certainly fewer than average I would say

So now the work of wrapping everything up may begin. We will report on the IRE in the April issue of Roofing Contractor. I had not planned to prepare a feature on the Community Service Day that Hanley-Wood bravely staged. First time things are always a bit risky but this one was memorable for those of us who partook of the event. We will prepare a list of “Editor’s Choice” items and report on those in April as well.

When that is all done I will begin looking forward to returning to Las Vegas for the 2011 version of the IRE. Hope to see you there!