What bad economy?

According to Washington, D.C.-based Hanley Wood LLC, pre-registration numbers for the 2009 International Roofing Expo® (IRE) were ahead of the numbers from the same time a year ago—total attendance is expected to be around 8,000. And the number of exhibitors will be 364, taking up 91,000 net square feet of booth space. This is despite the U.S.'s deepening economic woes and nearly constant reminders the construction industry is struggling.

What this could indicate is that many roofing professionals understand that investing in their businesses during a down economy will reap rewards in the long run, and it's the only way to best serve their customers.

Take the Center for Environmental Innovation in Roofing, for instance, which launched during the beginning of the economic downturn. The organization still managed to attract contractor and manufacturer members who made significant financial contributions to help the center begin its charge. (For more information about the center, see "One year in," page 60.)

And judging from the press releases Professional Roofing receives, roofing materials manufacturers have not slowed their efforts related to product research and development, particularly in the ever-growing "green" sector. Manufacturers are realizing that even as they may cut staff and slow production lines, a strong demand exists for cutting-edge products, and they are determined to deliver them.