Awesome is in the mind of the attender.

For this attendee (for full disclosure, a stakeholder in the operation), it was the best trade-show and educational seminar experience in recent memory. Also, for transparency, I am possessing of a relatively short memory; but it really was a fantastic experience and glad I invested the time in traveling and attending the 2012 IRE.

While I am somewhat involved in the IRE (Roofing Contractor is the official publication), my focus shifts once the curtain goes up on this annual event. My role as an observer of the roofing industry in the U.S. would be incomplete if it were not for the IRE and National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) annual convention, which occur simultaneously.

Highlights for me include spending some time with the good folks who stage the IRE, the leadership of the NRCA, some great old friends in the industry (fortunately for me, too numerous to mention), and the beautiful and talented staff of Roofing Contractor.  

I should also mention that this is the place where those in attendance get to meet new friends. I got to shake Kyle Petty’s hand in advance of taking his photo with our publisher, Jill Bloom. I spent several hours touring the show floor (not nearly enough … must do better next year) and had the opportunity to meet some people whose excitement about their new products and services was infectious. I had the chance to speak off the record with some of the captains of the roofing industry. Their insights always make my crystal ball a little clearer.

The carnival atmosphere of the trade show is always more fun when a lot of people show up. It is even more fun when the right people show up. This IRE was not only better attended, it was attended by more decision makers and more engaged individuals. This is purely anecdotal, but I have been attending the national show since 1976 and after a while you just get a feel for these things. I have not seen this kind of buzz in years.

If I am so excited about the 2012 IRE why has it taken two weeks to write about it? Good question! Being gone from the main job for a week really takes its toll on the calendar and clock. It took more than a week to get caught up on the e-mails and phone calls that piled up while I was away ‘investing my time’ at the IRE. In spite of the extra hours and being behind on a few things, I am way ahead by virtue of the things I learned and hope to share with RC readers in the coming months. The investment in this IRE experience was worth every minute.