By Shawn Zuver, DesignandBuildwithMetal.com
As we draw closer to the 25th anniversary of METALCON at the Tampa Convention Center, October 14-16, 2015, I've been reflecting on how the annual trade show and conferences have changed since that first year in Washington, DC.
I can still recall the excitement of that first METALCON, as my then co-worker and now business partner Bob Fittro and I drove into Washington from our homes in Ohio, listening to the confirmation hearings for Clarence Thomas, who was poised to replace Thurgood Marshall on the U.S. Supreme Court. I won't try to pretend that it has matched the historical significance of those confirmation proceedings, but METALCON has become a very big deal in the metal products industry - and throughout the construction universe.
In that first year, there were many questions about how the show would be received by building designers and construction professionals who were to make up the audience. As it turned out, the number of attendees was strong. And the amount of exhibitors who showed their wares was equally impressive, though the sheer numbers and sizes of booths pales in comparison to what would come later.
It was a great beginning in Washington and since then, under the constant guidance of show manager Claire Kilcoyne, METALCON has become the go-to event for our industry. Claire and her staff have continually re-shaped things to meet the current trends in the marketplace, which can be seen at this year's show in the form of Solar Bay presentations, convenient opportunities to earn AIA CEU credits, interactive learning opportunities and so much more.
I've had the pleasure of attending every METALCON since its inception, as has my other business partner, John Garvey. While Bob Fittro has also been attending the show since the start, he missed one along the way, which I believe was so that he could stay home in anticipation of the birth of one of his kids. (Some people have twisted priorities.)
If you've been to previous METALCONs, you don't need me to tell you why it's worth the trip. If you haven't been there, I'd strongly encourage you to check it out. There are lots of great things planned for this silver anniversary, so this year's show in Tampa should be another memorable one. In addition to networking and seeing the latest products, Tampa is always a nice place to be in mid-October, especially when other parts of the country or the world may not be quite so pleasant.
In honor of the show's 25th anniversary, I'd like to combine two of my favorite things - lists and numbers - to run down some of my observations and thoughts about METALCON. As a warning, I'm doing this on the fly, so please check out the METALCON website (www.metalcon.com) to get up-to-date info, travel discounts and to register for the show.
25 = I'll start with the obvious one...the number of METALCON shows that will have taken place by the end of 2015.
3 = days of exhibits.
4 = days of educational seminars.
30 = approximate number of educational and special programs.
8 = programs that offer AIA continuing education credits.
2 = Learning Zone theatres offering special product demonstrations in the exhibit hall.
250 = the approximate number of exhibitors who you'll find on the show floor in Tampa occupying 800 booth spaces, though that list could become even larger by show time.
60 = the number of trade associations that are involved in the show, including the Metal Construction Association (MCA) who has been the official sponsor of METALCON since its inception.
5 = number of contests that will make up the 2015 Metal Roofing Championship Games, which take place in a special area of the exhibit hall each day.
Thousands = the attendees and exhibitors who'll be at this year's METALCON.
Countless = the number of great products, services and ideas that you'll find to help your business throughout the year. As noted above, I'm doing this on the fly so "countless" will probably equate to a different number for each attendee.
1241 = our DesignandBuildwithMetal.com booth number. Be sure to stop by and sign up for our prize drawing of a camera drone that's an excellent tool for taking aerial photos of your projects during construction and after they're completed.
I hope to see you at the show!
METALCON is sponsored by the Metal Construction Association (www.metalconstruction.org). For more information about this year's show, visit www.metalcon.com.