Clashing cultures, setting prices and the burgeoning "green" building sector are among the topics scheduled for the Feb. 13-16 International Roofing Expo in Las Vegas. Thousands of attendees are expected for the second annual event, which will be held at the convention center adjacent to the Mandalay Bay hotel-casino complex on the Las Vegas Strip.

Long known as the National Roofing Contractors Association's annual convention, in 2004 the show was sold to Hanley Wood, a trade magazine publishing company. It's now open to all industry workers, regardless of NRCA membership.

Hanley Wood has booked 50 seminars, including six on work safety and 22 on business management. Some courses qualify for continuing-education credits.

"We designed our continuing-education program to focus on areas that are changing the roofing industry, bringing attendees up to speed in the areas that matter most to them," said Rick McConnell, show vice president. "The great additions to this year's conference make the 2006 International Roofing Expo an even more effective business-to-business event."

Sessions, speakers

At 8:45 a.m. Feb. 14, sessions include:

  • "Experiences Learned from Structural Metal Panel Roof System Projects." Sponsored by the NRCA's Sheet Metal and Metal Roofing Committee, this session will discuss commercial projects, detailing the changes contained in the NRCA's latest architectural and metal-roofing manual. Architect James Kirby is the scheduled speaker.
  • "Inspecting a Rooftop for Safety" will give an overview of the inspection process required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Accident prevention, a review of safety checklists and what to do when a violation occurs are among the planned topics. Safety expert Robert Pringle is the scheduled speaker.
  • "So You Married a Roofing Company" is aimed at spouses and those who may not have formal experience in human resources yet find themselves running the office. Tips on keeping good records, avoiding lawsuits and how to judge existing personnel policies will be discussed. Mary Beth Hartleb will lead this talk.
  • "The Big 10 Trends in Roofing" is the name for this panel discussion on the future of the industry. Colors, warranties and marketing are on the agenda. A question-and-answer session is also scheduled.

Cultural divides

  • "Winning Ways with Cross-Cultural Crews" has Tim Roorda offering tips on how to manage a company made of people from different races and backgrounds. Handling cultural difficulties properly will improve employee morale, productivity and safety, Roorda says.
  • "Collaborative Selling Skills" will teach attendees how to frame questions so you understand customers' needs and are seen as offering solutions to those problems, instead of just "selling." Speaker Jeff Gee will also explain the "pyramid of power" and its relationship with your customers.
  • At 8:30 a.m. Feb. 15, these sessions are scheduled:

  • "Understanding Metal Roofing: Part I" is Rob Haddock's popular presentation on the history and making of metal roofing. Haddock has given this presentation many times for NRCA members and attendees of the Metalcon trade show. Topics include seams, profiles, underlayments and sealants. Part II will be at 10:30 a.m.
  • "LEED Specifications and Sustainability Issues in Commercial Roofing Technology" will cover the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program and how it relates to roofing contractors. LEED certifies projects as environmentally "friendly," awarding points on criteria such as recycled materials and energy efficiency. James Hoff, Richard Gillenwater, Samir Ibrahim and Tom Hutchinson are scheduled to speak.

Sales and profits

"Business Management: How to Make Money." Dennis Dixon says to make your business profitable, you have to know your numbers: operating expenses, costs and profit goals. Dixon will tell ways to streamline operations, and include allowances and change orders into your estimates.

  • "Residential Metal Roofing: Selling the Value" is the same presentation Bill Moore-Gough gave at Metalcon in October. Moore-Gough will explain what techniques work for him when selling metal roofing to Ontario homeowners.

  • "Pricing Metal Roofing for Profit" at 10:15 a.m., is another presentation recently given at Metalcon. Washington state roofing contractor Jerry Iselin has some different techniques than Moore-Gough, but he is also successful. Iselin will explain what works in his region.

  • "Introduction to Roofing with Zinc" at 10 a.m. Feb. 16, will show zinc's use in standing-seam work, batten systems and horizontal panels. Fabrication, installation and necessary tools will also be featured. Chip Pinkham and Erik Berg will lead the discussion.

In addition to the work-related sessions, the convention will also include a keynote speaker Feb. 14, Barry Asmus, Ph.D. Asmus is a senior economist with the National Center for Policy Analysis. A free-market advocate, he will give expo attendees his view on where the nation is headed. Show Vice President Rick McConnell said Asmus' presentation would inspire contractors to look at their businesses in "an entirely new way."

The International Roofing Expo will also include a trade show, which will be open every afternoon Feb. 14-16. More than 400 companies will display their latest products.

For reprints of this article, contact Jill DeVries at (248) 244-1726 or e-mail


There's more to Vegas than just buffets and bingo

Las Vegas is a city best known for gambling and showgirls, but it also has a reputation as one of the nation's top convention destinations.

According to industry journal Tradeshow Week, Las Vegas is the No. 1 convention city in the country, beating out such popular locales as Chicago and Orlando, Fla.

No doubt the fact this city offers 24-hour entertainment is a big reason why it's popular with show organizers such as Hanley Wood. The slot machines and tables are always open, so attendees don't have to worry about not having enough time for recreation after the convention day ends. If you're willing to skip on sleep, you'll always find something - more likely, many things - to do.

For people who have little interest in gambling or other vices that this desert mecca seems to encourage, such as drinking, smoking and general gluttony, a meeting in Sin City might seem only slightly preferable to a hip replacement. However, although Las Vegas retains its reputation as an "anything goes" town, those who eschew the traditional Vegas pursuits will still find plenty to do. Las Vegas' 1990s flirtation with the family market failed, but most hotel-casinos offer plenty of nongambling activities. In fact, many of the newest resorts make more money off the high-end shopping, dining and spas they offer than they do from the dice tables.

With that in mind, here's some other options for leisure time that won't take you near a slot machine (Well, you might walk past one, but you don't have to stop).

Check out Shark Reef.

This attraction, which is housed in the Mandalay Bay hotel-casino (the Roofing Expo's convention headquarters), includes more than 1,200 aquatic species, including 15 types of sharks, reptiles, tropical and fresh-water fish. They're contained in 2 million gallons of water up to 22 feet deep. Experts are available to answer questions at this American Zoo and Aquarium Association-accredited facility.

Hail Caesar at the Forum Shops.

This mall inside the Caesars Palace resort recently doubled its size. It includes some of the finest upscale shopping in America, all within an area designed to resemble what the ancient Romans might have built if the emperors had a taste for Versace and Hugo Boss. Imitation cobblestone streets and a faux sky at twilight adds to the effect.

Caesars also lures shoppers with two animatronic shows that take place on the hour. The Fall of Atlantis show recreates the demise of the mythical city, while the Festival Fountain Show features a discussion between Apollo, Venus and other Roman gods.

Take in a show.

Las Vegas has long been known for entertainment, but during the 1970s and 80s, it seemed to be a place where many performers headed when their careers were in decline. No more. Today, popular acts in rock, pop, country and comedy appear in limited engagements or as permanent headliners. Celine Dion and Elton John have long-term contracts to appear in Caesars Palace main arena, and comedians such as Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno regularly perform.

The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, which caters to a younger crowd than many older Vegas resorts, includes the Joint, which offers the chance to see stars such as the Rolling Stones and Fiona Apple in an intimate venue.

Las Vegas also offers exclusive entertainers who don't appear anywhere else, such as impressionist Danny Gans and magician Lance Burton.

Tickets for some headliners can be more than $100; however, prices for lesser-known acts are often under $50. Discounts are sometimes available. Many casino lounges also offer entertainment for the cost of one drink.

Have a gourmet meal.

Las Vegas has come a long way from the $2.99 buffets and $2 steak specials the city used be known for. Such bargains are still available, if not at quite so low prices, but Las Vegas now attracts some of the world's top chefs. Wolfgang Puck, who brought his famous Spago chain to Caesars Palace a few years ago, now operates Postrio in the Venetian, a Renaissance-themed resort. Bradley Ogden, Bobby Flay and Emeril Lagasse are among the other celebrity chefs who now operate eateries in the city.