I recently returned from the 2020 International Roofing Expo® and NRCA’s 133rd Annual Convention in Dallas, and I realized this year’s event marked the 24th(!) consecutive NRCA convention I have attended. This realization provided an opportunity for me to reflect on how the convention and trade show have changed during the past two decades and the possibilities for the future.
The most obvious change is the trade show has gotten bigger in terms of floor space, exhibitors and attendees. Each year, it seems attendance sets a record, which proves the industry continues to find relevance in the educational programming, exhibitor offerings and networking.
The demographics of attendees also have changed. The event increasingly is drawing more people from younger generations than older ones. Young families with strollers now are a common sight on the trade show floor. Women, too, make up a larger part of the attendee pool rather than simply being props to draw crowds to an exhibitor’s booth. And more roofing workers are taking advantage of the trade show to learn about the career they chose—it’s not just company owners who are seeing the latest offerings.
Exhibitors have become more sophisticated and diverse. As I walked the trade show floor this year, I marveled at how even the smallest tabletop booths had some technological component, and companies were prepared to show current and future customers their innovative capabilities.
What has not changed is the industry’s enthusiasm. During the past 24 years—even during the Great Recession—roofing contractors have not waned in their dedication to learn more about what the industry can offer them, their businesses and their customers. And that speaks volumes about the future: Regardless of the difficult issues they face, contractors remain committed to their craft—and the industry.