By Fiona Maguire-O’Shea – Newton, Mass.
Exhibitors and attendees at the largest international event for the metal construction industry networked and discovered new products, technologies and solutions together with designers, builders, developers, contractors, fabricators and suppliers from more than 50 countries at METALCON 2018 in Charlotte earlier this month.
This year’s new show format, “The Total Experience,” included 275 leading companies exhibiting the latest industry products and technology along with education and training sessions—ALL located on the show floor.
“It was a beautiful show and had an exciting feel with the new design and layout,” said repeat exhibitor, Todd Miller with Isaiah Industries, an Ohio-based manufacturer of roofing solutions. “I really liked having the educational sessions on the floor. It added to the excitement and energy of the show. It’s a great show for meeting our customers, and it’s the main show we attend each year.”
“If you’re in the business, if you’re in the metal roofing business, if you’re in the manufacturing of metal buildings, it is a must―you need to be here,” said attendee, Todd Andrews of South Carolina’s Classic Metals, Inc. “If you don’t come to METALCON, you are going backwards because the process and progress of this business grows every year.”
Kicking off day one of the show was keynote speaker, Steve Smith, Sr., a 16-year NFL veteran and former five-time pro bowl, three-time all-pro receiver for the Carolina Panthers, who presented “Perseverance, Teamwork and Overcoming Obstacles.”
He spoke about his childhood in Los Angeles, how he came from a rough background and faced many struggles. “I understand the impact of domestic violence; I witnessed it,” said Smith. “I only felt comfortable on the football field. My mom was a drug rehab counselor and showed me perseverance. She raised me and my brother. We both had a desire at such a young age. I wanted to play football, and he wanted to be a fireman. My aunt said I need to have a more realistic dream. It shocked me, hurt me and drove me, but we are both living out our dreams.”
After high school, Smith attended Santa Monica College and transferred to the University of Utah, where he played football and was later recruited by the NFL. He married and had four children. Off the field, his home life wasn’t great. “My wife asked me, will you give as much to your family as you do to football?” said Smith. “I had a big house but an empty feeling inside. I only had confidence on the field. I needed time with people and didn’t realize I could be rambunctious and fiery for my community, my family and my friends.”
“It is really about how well we distribute our knowledge and the people we surround ourselves with,” said Smith. “Having the right people around you and having a great support team―that’s all important. All of those things matter to be productive, to be able to hit target numbers and exceed expectations.”
Throughout the show, METALCON raised funds for the Steve Smith Family Foundation, dedicated to helping families impacted by domestic violence and to promoting family health and wellness. Autographed jerseys and footballs were raffled to help raise funds. METALCON Show Director, Claire Kilcoyne presented the foundation’s Executive Director, Gerard Littlejohn, with a check for $3,000 during an on-site check presentation ceremony.
“One of the most rewarding parts of the show for me personally is our annual giving back program,” said Kilcoyne. “We are happy to support our keynote speaker’s foundation and hope the funds raised by our generous show audience will help other children who have faced adversity just as Steve did.”
Also on day one of the show, Heidi Ellsworth, co-founder of National Women in Roofing (NWIR) and partner at Rooferscoffeeshop®, moderated an all-women expert roofing panel―a mix of manufacturers and contractors. They discussed the importance of gender and generational diversity in the business, how to create a better balance in the industry, and the values of emotional intelligence, strong communication and collaboration needed to grow a sustainable and robust business.
“If businesses really want to stay sustainable, profitable and scalable, they have to bring in the talent of all generations, all genders and all types of people from all different backgrounds and nationalities,” said Ellsworth. “METALCON is great for making connections and great for making connections with other women in the industry.”
Diane Powers of the Association of Women in Metal Industries couldn’t agree more and is looking forward to her association’s participation next year at METALCON 2019 in Pittsburgh. “I’m here to learn more about products, learn more about the industry and to meet people,” said Powers. “I think that’s very important.”
Former CEO of Nucor Corporation and senior trade adviser to President Trump’s Campaign, Dan DiMicco, kicked off day two defending the Trump administration’s aggressive foreign trade policy and tariffs in his keynote address, “The Economic Plan for Growth and Global Competitiveness in the United States―Implications for Steel.” He explained how steel and aluminum tariffs are necessary, make sense and are putting the United States back on track.
At the core of his message, DiMicco said, “The tariffs are part of an overall effort to reform the global trading system so it works for everybody, so we have fair reciprocal trade in the world. The tariffs are not meant to hurt companies in this country but meant to give us a long-term opportunity to have a strong economy going forward.”
DiMicco’s talk drew a large crowd and was a hit among attendees. Repeat attendee, Neal Labovitz of Southern Steel in Montgomery Alabama said, “I traveled 405 miles to hear Dan speak.”
Exhibitor and CEO of roof estimating software AppliCad, Ray Smith, traveled from Australia once again to exhibit at METALCON. He has attended 20+ METALCON shows and stated, “This has been one of the best shows for us for several years. We had such good quality people stop by our booth, and we were happy with the layout of the show, which brought attendees to our booth.”
Finally, this year’s metal roofing games, another sold-out event, awarded a total of $8,500 to its winners. Eight teams of two competed in five “competitions” inspired by this year’s theme “The MCA Rev ‘Em Up Championship Roofing Games.” Each competition paid $500 to the winning team. Top awards each day included a Daily Points Award of $750. The winner on Wednesday was Matt Cox and Justin Hopta of Thomas Phoenix International and on Thursday, Joe Arnold and Mike Milligan, also of Thomas Phoenix International. On Friday, both teams came together in a face-off where Cox and Hopta, last year’s championships, were victorious once again in taking home the MCA METALCON National Metal Roofing Championship title and $2,000. Next year’s teams will be able to pre-register for the Pittsburgh games beginning in February 2019.
Kilcoyne was very excited about the results of the new Total Experience format. “We shook things up this year and have received a lot of positive feedback,” said Kilcoyne. “The keynote speakers were great, all of the Learning Centers were packed, and we look forward to capitalizing on everything that worked well, while we plan for next year’s show in the steel-city of Pittsburgh.”
Established in 1991, METALCON is the largest international event in the metal construction industry. Unique in both its service and show management to this industry, METALCON is the only annual tradeshow and conference devoted entirely to the application of metal in industrial, institutional, light commercial and residential projects. Its success is based on three key methods of education: exhibits, an extensive conference program and interactive, learning opportunities. METALCON is produced by PSMJ Resources, Inc., and sponsored by The Metal Construction Association. This was the event’s first time in Charlotte. METALCON 2019 takes place in Pittsburgh from Oct. 16–18. For more information, visit www.metalcon.com or call 800-537-7765.