Qualified buyers, optimistic exhibitors create a successful METALCON

The 19th annual METALCON International conference and exhibition drew more than 5,600 architects, building owners, contractors, engineers and municipal decision makers from 50 different countries to the Tampa Convention Center in early October.

They came to see — and buy — the latest products and technology for the use of metal in construction showcased by more than 270 exhibiting companies. These visitors were thinking ahead, looking for better ways to capture business and to make what they have more efficient.

The exhibitors had what these decision makers wanted. “In the 19 years we’ve been doing this show, our exhibitors have never failed to come up with some of the most innovative products every time. Each year we add a new feature to the show, but nothing, nothing can top what they do. They come up with ideas and products that literally have revolutionized this industry. This year we saw new forming equipment, coatings, roofing products, software and a host of new products for the solar market,” said Claire Kilcoyne, METALCON show director.

Jeff Irwin, president of the MCA and CEO of Kingspan Benchmark Architectural Panels, said. “The traffic looked good and the appearance of the show was exceptional. It’s a great event and if you’re in this industry you need to be here to catch the pulse of what’s going on.”

This year’s show featured 32 new exhibiting companies, 25 new topics in a 33-session education program, three days of new live-action demos, and a line up of new tools and safety equipment presented in the second annual Tool Day.

Some of the biggest attractions were the booths with fabricating equipment, metal roofing and wall system, and the new Solar Bay — a special section dedicated to the integration of solar technology and metal roof and wall panels. It included actual set-ups of working systems and an education forum of daily presentations and demonstrations. An impressive line up of 32 companies and organizations displayed products and made presentations in Solar Bay.

Dawn Solar, Brentwood, N.H., was one of the participants in Solar Bay. “Solar Bay was a great addition to METALCON and the enthusiasm for solar is very high. Teaching this integration and step-by-step installation to contractors and architects at METALCON is vital to taking the industry to the next level of sustainable construction and design. National level incentives will also help to move it along faster,” says Bill Poleatewich, president of Dawn Solar, which develops and manufactures solar thermal system collectors for residential, commercial, institutional and industrial structures.

Englert Inc., Perth Amboy, N.J., a manufacturer of metal products for roofs and walls also exhibited in Solar Bay and Green Island. “We had a great show. The serious contractors came and they were very interested in the products being offered. We had a lot of interest in our solar products and sold five of our onsite roll formers. We also realized how good it is to be at this show to find out firsthand what’s going on in the market and what people are really thinking,” said Kevin Corcoran, VP at Englert.

Major equipment manufacturers were very busy, signaling additional optimism in the future of the economy. “This was a great show for us. We’ve sold at least 10 machines and we’re not done yet,“ said Geoff Stone, CEO/owner of MetalForming, Inc. Peachtree City, Ga. 

For David Craig, vice president of sales for Blosser Stephens this was not his first METALCON but it was the first time the company exhibited at the event. “We had a great show and a great experience for Blosser Stephens. The visitors were well qualified. We had many serious and potential leads and a very positive response to our products from those who stopped at our booth. We’ll definitely be back in 2010,” he says. The company introduced its line of Galvalume-based Green Generation Shingle products.

Chris Gentile, head of new product design and development for Authentic Tools of Rochester Hills, MI, was also pleased. “This is only the second trade show we’ve exhibited in, and METALCON blew the other one away. In this economy we were hoping for the best, but planning for something less. We were very pleasantly surprised. It was well beyond our expectations. We also picked up vendors and manufacturers, which I wasn’t expecting.”  The company exhibited four new products: the Versa Hemmer, a Versa Vendor double station, KBS Metals’ gas powered mechanical seamer, and the Belgian roof dock, a safety device designed specifically for metal roofing.

Zane Miller, Development Manager of Rapid Materials, Austell, GA, also had a busy show. “We had more than 75 excellent leads, but we missed a lot more because we couldn’t keep up with the traffic in our booth; it was so crowded.” Rapid Materials is an online commerce site that makes it easier to purchase construction products to specifications.

Before the exhibits opened Tuesday afternoon, more than 1,000 people attended a mid-morning keynote address, “Creating a New Sustainable Economy,” presented by Bob Berkebile, FAIA, a founding principal of Kansas City-based BNIM Architects. He confirmed we are using six times the resources the earth can produce, but offered simple, alternative ways to avoid future calamity. He used case studies to show how design and construction methods can be changed to improve the quality of life and the world economic outlook. 

Tuesday, Kilcoyne, show staff and members of the MCA Board of Directors joined special guest U.S. Army SSG Paul Russell “Russ” Marek in cutting the ribbon to open the show. For Marek, who lives in Melbourne, FL, this was much different than his first METALCON in 2006. At that time he was newly released from the hospital after a year of treatment for severe wounds he suffered in 2005 in Iraq that left him a triple amputee with acute head injuries. In 2006 he was presented materials for a new home and more than $25,000 in financial contributions from METALCON. At that event, he was wheelchair-bound and could not understand what was happening around him. This time Marek walked in the hall, cut the ribbon, and gave a short speech to thank all those who helped build the structure into the accessible house he now calls home.

The 20th annual METALCON takes place October 20-22 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

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