The last week in June was a busy one for Team RC with two trade shows in addition to the usual persistent flow of editing and reporting that never ceases (thank goodness!). The Western State Roofing Contractors Association (WSRCA) annual convention in Las Vegas was attended by several of our folks, including our group publisher, Jill Bloom, who also serves on WSRCA’s Associate Advisory Council. Nearly at the same time I had the honor of attending the Florida Roofing, Sheet Metal, and Air Conditioning Contractor’s Association (FRSA) annual convention in Orlando, Fla.
It is always great to attend the FRSA convention because Florida is where I spent my first twenty-plus years in the roofing industry. FRSA was where I learned how strong roofing-industry trade associations make a positive impact on their members, consumers, and the industry as a whole. Even though I call Georgia home now, I continue to have a number of business interests in Florida and still consider it my home state. Guess you could say I have dual citizenship.
The trip was more than worth it for me since the FRSA always holds a significant trade show, but it is not so big that you cannot see it all in two or three days. This year I had no “official” duties outside of the business of seeing the exhibits and meeting with the exhibitors in their booths, and it afforded me the opportunity to listen, learn and network a bit. It was a refreshing change from the usual frenetic pace we are accustomed to working during the larger national events.
I learned of some new systems and methods that I will not report on here, but just wanted to comment somewhat on the event. There were some cool new items that I want to write about but need to see them in use first.
I have the habit, when touring a trade show, of asking the exhibitors, “What do you think of the show?” It is an ice-breaker and I really do like keeping score of any and all “information delivery systems” serving the roofing industry. After all, that is our business, even though we are not engaged in staging a trade show of our own. This trip the response to the question was almost always the same as the show floor traffic was much lighter than in years past. The comments were not all negative, since for some exhibitors, one or two key contacts can represent business for the better part of the year or beyond. But the traffic was decidedly light; no denying it.
So is that a bad sign for the roofing industry in Florida? Hell no! the reason that many contractors stayed home is because, for the first time in two or three years, their phones are ringing off the hook. Tropical storm Debby rolled over north Florida the week before leaving a track of destruction from high winds and rainfall measured in feet. While not as devastating as a Category 2 hurricane, Debby accounted for a rash of leaks owing to the lack of rainfall in the area, which has been in drought or near-drought conditions for two to three years. Toss in the high winds and anything that might leak did leak.
So for the industry, the FRSA celebrated 90 years of service, product advancement, contractor improvement, and fellowship. In spite of challenges (real business opportunities) from some tropical weather, the show went on and is bound to come roaring back in 2013. Having been an exhibitor at this show for many years, I can tell you that the years when business was so good that trade show attendance went down were better for the industry.
The only real downside of attending the FRSA this year was being reminded by some of my good friends that we first met at this show 38 years ago. Ouch.
For more information:
Tropical Storm Debby: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/capital-weather-gang/post/tropical-storm-debbie-is-gone-but-damage-is-done-photos/2012/06/27/gJQADENf7V_blog.html