As I was saying …

Takeaways from IRE

The roofing industry is nothing if not resilient. Coming off a terrible year—consensus seems to be the industry volume was down 30 percent in 2009—NRCA members still made the 2010 International Roofing Expo® (IRE) a huge success by any standard of measurement. Total attendance is estimated to be 7,000, down about 4 percent from the 2009 show. But educational conference attendance was up and there were more exhibiting companies, albeit in somewhat smaller spaces.

Not surprisingly, the most popular educational offerings were those addressing sales and marketing and new technologies. Sessions with the word "solar" in them were practically guaranteed to sell out, and NRCA's luncheon speaker, solar expert Steven Strong, met with a long line of interested contractors following his presentation. The trade show floor included a number of solar manufacturers, suggesting the industry is on the verge of much greater involvement with that technology.

New Orleans, of course, is a draw by itself, and we heard clearly from attendees who had experienced Las Vegas fatigue. Plans are for IRE to move more frequently; future sites, in addition to Las Vegas in 2011, include Orlando, Fla., in 2012 and San Antonio in 2013.

Our first Community Service Day, held in partnership with Rebuilding Together® New Orleans, exceeded all expectations as 77 volunteers worked on five homes that were damaged by Hurricane Katrina. Some volunteers reported chipping mortar from bricks was more fulfilling than chipping golf balls to unintended places.