NECA 2015: Chapter Managers Explain How to Get the Most out of San Francisco
The annual National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) convention is by far, the largest professional event in the electrical contracting industry. Since the first NECA Show, held in Buffalo, New York, in 1901, the event has grown considerably and has stopped in major cities across the country, including San Diego, Washington, D.C., Chicago and more. This year, the City by the Bay is playing host to the NECA Show.
With hundreds of exhibitors posted up on the trade show floor, numerous educational sessions, new product demonstrations, speakers, special networking events and so much more, the amount to do, see, hear and experience can be a bit overwhelming.
US Builders Review turned to local chapter managers at the top of their organizations around the country to gather advice on how to navigate the industry’s most talked about event.
What advice would you have for a contractor who’s never been to a NECA Show, but will be attending in San Francisco this year?
“I recommend every attendee download the free NECA Show app that provides just about all the information imaginable about the event. That and pack comfortable shoes!” – Thomas W. Shreves, executive director, Greater Cleveland Chapter (GCC-NECA)
“Go a day early and explore the convention center without so many people there, then outline the course you want to take in advance as there are so many to choose from and the content of each is invaluable.” – Cindy Flowers, executive director, Southern Arizona NECA
“For those who have never been to the NECA Show, you will feel like a kid in a candy store. Prioritize your interests, but keep an open mind because there will be many vendors with innovative products and ideas. Walk the whole trade show floor and talk to the vendors. Go every day because you will discover new things you overlooked.” – Larry Moter, executive director, Atlantic Coast Chapter (ACC-NECA)
“Take advantage of as many things as possible, from trainings to the trade show – there’s a reason it’s the No. 1 show in the industry. The vendors on the trade show floor are there to meet contractors and every year there are new services and vendors. There are so many free resources – tools, equipment and discounts – so soak it all up. Don’t use the convention as a vacation. If you can, stay a few days before or after, but during the days of the convention really take advantage of what’s out there.” – Scott Hopkins, executive director, Oklahoma Chapter (OKNECA)
“Take full advantage of all of the classes and workshops and opportunity to earn continuing education units [CEUs]. I have members that go to the convention and in one week, get all of the CEUs to uphold their contractor’s license throughout the year. It’s a great way to knock them out in a few days and it’s probably the No. 1 reason why my members return every year.” – Chase Pendergraft, executive director, East Tennessee Chapter (ETNECA)
How do you typically prepare for the NECA Show?
“As a NECA Chapter director, I have an advantage in that I get to go to the convention city before the show in March for NECA’s Administrative Executive Institute and while I’m there, I tour the hotels to identify where our members will be staying. This provides me with a level of comfort in knowing where things are. As the date of the convention draws closer, I focus on reviewing all the dates and times that events and courses are taking place and put everything in my calendar so there’s never a question of where I need to be or when.” – Cindy Flowers, executive director, Southern Arizona NECA.
“In preparation, I go to the convention website to get familiarized and use the schedule to choose the education events that interest me so I can begin to schedule my time. That way I know how much time I have for visiting and enjoying the sights in the city.” – Thomas W. Shreves, executive director, Greater Cleveland Chapter (GCC-NECA).
“Go to the website and get an idea of what classes are available. Look at the course schedule ahead of time so you have a plan going in. Also, download the informative NECA app – it’s a great way to stay organized.” – Chase Pendergraft, executive director, East Tennessee Chapter (ETNECA).
“I review my contractor attendee list and suggest certain things for them based on their interests. For example, if a contractor wants to shop for new estimating software, I point them in the direction of those vendors. This is mostly for newer contractors, long time attendees don’t need as much assistance.” – Larry Moter, executive director, Atlantic Coast Chapter (ACC-NECA).
What are some of your favorite or not-to-be-missed parts of the NECA Show?
“After being with ETNECA for 12 years, this year we’re going to have one of the strongest turnouts for the convention with 40 attendees. This is the biggest group I’ve had since becoming chapter manager. The first thing I’d tell my attendees not to miss is the trade show floor. The trade show is one of the best in the U.S. – it’s the bread and butter of the convention and the biggest draw. But the not-so-technical stuff, such as the opening, closing and general sessions are always first-class events and a great way to meet people in the industry from all over. The keynote speakers are always super talented. After listening to their stories, you feel truly inspired and have a new perspective.” – Chase Pendergraft, executive director, East Tennessee Chapter (ETNECA)
“Having worked in the field, my favorite thing to do is spend as much time as possible on the trade show floor. Seeing all of the new products and tools is still fun for me because it’s the best electrical trade show in the world. Also the chance to meet up with old friends from around the country is something I really look forward to.” – Thomas W. Shreves, executive director, Greater Cleveland Chapter (GCC-NECA)
“The NECA Show is the premier electrical show in the industry – from an educational and new technologies standpoint. Yes, this knowledge eventually trickles down, but going to the show, especially the trade show floor gives you a firsthand look and can really inspire a contractor on how to grow and improve their business through new ideas.” – Scott Hopkins, executive director Oklahoma Chapter (OKNECA)
“The speakers are always phenomenal, the training and educational course are extremely informative and the trade show is remarkable, not to mention the networking opportunities. However, I have to say what I look forward to the most is the NECA Student Chapter Competition and Presentations. These young people are the future and they surpass all expectations in their research and final product.” – Cindy Flowers, executive director, Southern Arizona NECA
“My favorite part is walking the trade show floor and seeing the folks I only see once a year at this show. The best advice is something I heard years ago from an old NECA contractor. He told me to go every year because either through a class, seminar or vendor booth, you’ll learn new ways to increase profitability or cut costs. What I learn more than pays the costs of attending the show.” – Larry Moter, executive director, Atlantic Coast Chapter (ACC-NECA)