As I was saying …

Welcome to the IRE

It wasn't too many years ago that people involved in the trade show industry were worrying about the sustainability of the exposition business: Could it survive given the unmistakable trend toward online communication? Would virtual trade shows become the new norm? Were traditional expositions becoming dinosaurs? The evidence is now pretty overwhelming that there still is great value in face-to-face contact and trade shows provide the most effective way to accomplish that.

Lately, at NRCA, we've been asking members a lot of questions about the colloquialism we call the "value proposition." What are the things members find most valuable? What products and services do we offer that make membership a good business decision if not an imperative?

And the results are interesting. When we ask these questions of all members, we tend to get answers such as "I like the manuals and training programs" or "The industry needs a voice in Washington, D.C.," or "I like your strong technical programs."

However, when we ask members who are or have been in NRCA leadership positions, the first answer invariably is: "I value the relationships, friendships and opportunities for networking."

Now, these are not difficult dots to connect. The International Roofing Expo® (IRE) affords contractors a unique opportunity to interact with and learn from noncompeting peers. That's the same value NRCA leaders find with their involvement on committees and task forces. And that's one of the key reasons, I would argue, the trade show industry is alive and well.

Sure, you can see products and ask questions online, but you can't shake hands online. Nor can you touch and feel products you might want to buy or get to know people in a meaningful way.

All of which is to say: Take advantage of the incredible opportunities the IRE offers. Participate in educational programs. Visit the trade show floor often. Ask questions. Make new friends, and meet new suppliers. Find out how you can become more involved in the issues affecting our industry and your livelihood.

And have fun. For sure, you can't experience Café Du Monde, Felix's or the Acme Oyster House online.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Bill Good is NRCA's executive vice president.


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