Las Vegas is a popular, if somewhat polarizing, tourist destination. It’s one of the world’s most well-liked vacation spots and fights annually with Orlando, Fla., for the title of top convention city.

However, some people are put off by the garish, over-the-top casinos, gambling and gluttony the city seems to encourage.

Attendees of the International Roofing Expo are not among them. For the third straight year, the expo will be at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The expo was originally to be Jan. 10-12 in San Antonio, but last year, organizers announced they were keeping the show in Las Vegas and again holding it in February.

“The attendees prefer that International Roofing Expo be held in February and continue to be hosted in Las Vegas,” said Bill Good, executive vice president of the National Roofing Contractors Association, which sponsors and holds its annual meeting during the event. “Attendees also prefer Las Vegas 4-to-1 over any other city due to the vast entertainment options, as well as affordable lodging and dining.”

This year’s Roofing Expo will be Feb. 21-23. Hanley-Wood, a media company that owns the expo, said exhibit hall booth sales for the trade show have been strong.

“This promises to be another exciting, must-see event for the roofing construction and maintenance industry,” said expo director Donna Bellantone.

As in past years, the show will have numerous educational seminars, grouped into categories such as technical, general business and money matters. Metal roofing will still be a major focus, with several sessions devoted to the topic.

Sessions, seminars

Here are some of the sessions that may be of interest to Snips readers. Times, agendas and speakers may change. Fees may apply. Go to www.theroofingexpo.com for updates.

At 8 a.m. Feb. 20, all-day sessions on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s fall-protection rules will be presented in English and Spanish. During “Roofing Industry Fall Protection from A to Z,” anchors, chutes, debris and related subjects will be covered.

At 7:45 a.m. Feb. 21, these are among sessions planned:

• The growing importance of work force diversity will be discussed by Sylvia Acevedo, CEO and co-founder of CommuniCard LLC, based in Austin, Texas, during “Business Advantages of Cultural Communication and Hispanic Employee Relations.” Results of Acevedo’s research into cultural and communication problems regarding Hispanics in the construction industry will be the focus.

• “Green Buildings: Opportunities for the Roofing Industry,” a discussion led by David Riley, Ph.D., an associate professor of engineering at Pennsylvania State University. The movement to make buildings environmentally friendly isn’t likely to go away anytime soon. This session will explore what roofing contractors stand to gain from this growing movement.

• For contractors who regularly work on metal roofing, they may already be familiar with the subjects of “Metal Roofing: The Devil’s in the Details.” Often-tricky problems such as eaves will be covered by Vaughn Bacon of NCI Building Systems.

Turning ‘green'

At 7:45 a.m. Feb. 22, sessions include:

• “Green Building and its True Impact on Material Selection,” hosted by Chris Fisher and Katie Janness. This session on environmental building will explain the roles roofers have in ensuring structures are “green.”

• “How to Motivate Today’s Construction Worker” is the self-explanatory title of a seminar that will reveal tips to ensure more workers have a positive attitude.

• The World Wide Web can be an effective marketing tool for roofing contractors, although many don’t use it, says Martin Gould, president of Focalizenow in Cooper City, Fla. Gould will explain what companies can do to make their Web sites more inviting and avoid mistakes that keep customers away.

• Rob Haddock of the Metal Roof Advisory Group will present his popular annual presentation, “Understanding Metal Roofing, Part I.” Metallurgy, history, weathering and related topics will be explained. Part II will be at 9:45 a.m.

Also at 9:45 a.m. will be “Determining Your Real Labor Costs: Are You Really Charging Enough?” Consultant Shawn McCadden will lead attendees through the complex world of determining how to price your services.

Sessions slated for Feb. 23 include:

• “Copper as a Roofing Material.” H. Wayne Seale, a regional manager with the Copper Development Association, will explain the details of installing copper, including standing-seam, batten-seam and flat-seam methods.

• NRCA members will be featured during “Experiences Learned From Green Roof System Projects.” Working with other trades, materials issues and NRCA design guides will be the topics.

• Ken Buchinger of NCI Building Systems will be explaining “Metal Roofing Installation: Residential Standing Seam.” Flashing details, eaves, rakes, ridges and related topics are on the agenda.

The trade show hours are staggered so you can attend seminars during the morning and walk the convention hall floor during the afternoon. Show hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 21-22 and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 24.
For more information about the show, contact HanleyWood Exhibitions, P.O. Box 612128, Dallas, TX 75261; see www.theroofingexpo.com on the Internet.

Sidebar - City offers lot of action on all visits

No matter how many times the International Roofing Expo heads to Las Vegas, you can be sure there will be something new to see or do.

This fast-growing city is always changing and re-inventing itself. Recently celebrating its first 100 years, Las Vegas has gone through several incarnations. It started as a dusty cowboy town, became a gambling mecca for the Rat Pack generation, for a while tried being a family-friendly vacation spot, and now, it’s one of the top entertainment destinations in the world.

Even if you don’t bet a nickel, today’s Las Vegas offers numerous recreation opportunities. Perhaps that’s part of the reason it’s one of the top U.S. convention locations.

In just the last year, there’s been a flurry of new construction and attractions. New hotels are going up, and older ones, such as the Stardust and Westward Ho, have come down. Even one of the newer properties, the Aladdin, is now a Planet Hollywood-brand hotel.

Perhaps the biggest hotel project to open in recent years is the Wynn, an upscale hotel from Steve Wynn, the man many credit for reviving Las Vegas in the late 1980s with the Mirage and later Treasure Island and the Bellagio.

The hotel sits adjacent to an 18-hole golf course, and features a towering, tree-covered mountain facing Las Vegas Boulevard. Packed with restaurants and nightclubs, the resort has already proven itself one of the city’s most popular.

Here’s a list of some of the city’s other major attractions. Some are new; others are longtime favorites. Many are free.

For visual splendor - and the brightly lit Las Vegas Strip has plenty of it - few can match the Fountains at Bellagio. These water-jets shoot 200 feet into the air from the lagoon in front of the hotel several times daily, weather permitting. The fountains, which are lit at night, move in computer-controlled precision with music.

Treasure Island, one of several highly themed casinos to open during Vegas’ flirtation with family entertainment, is now known as TI. It’s long offered a staged pirate battle, complete with swashbuckling buccaneers and cannon fire. In recent years, as the city has returned to its adult-oriented roots, the show has been re-christened “The Sirens of TI.” This new show features scantily clad female pirates, rock music and is as popular as ever.

Downtown Las Vegas has struggled to attract tourists who prefer to stay and play at the newer, showier resorts on the Strip. But “Old Vegas” offers plenty of character, in addition to low-limit gambling for those on a budget. Several years ago, the portion of Fremont Street closest to the major hotels was closed to auto traffic and a huge canopy erected over it. The Freemont Street Experience is the result. The area is now a pedestrian gambling mall with a regular overhead light-and-sound show after dusk. Recently renovated, it features dancing images and thousands of lights set to a pulsing sound system.

For an inexpensive tour, ride the monorail. The $650 million, 4-mile-long, seven-station Las Vegas Monorail opened in 2004 after almost a decade of planning. It runs from the MGM Grand at the south end of the Strip, up to the historic Sahara hotel and casino. It also makes a detour off the strip to stop at the Las Vegas Convention Center and nearby Las Vegas Hilton, making it especially convenient for Roofing Expo attendees.

One of the few completely privately funded mass transit projects in the country, it has yet to earn a profit for investors. As a result, fares have nearly doubled since it first opened. However, the city often offers special deals for convention attendees and it’s still quicker than queuing up and waiting for a taxi. It offers an easy, fairly inexpensive way to get around the most popular parts of the city.

After a day at the convention center, you might want to stop next door at the Las Vegas Hilton and ride Star Trek: The Experience. Especially popular with fans of the television and movie series, the Experience is made up of two rides: Borg Invasion 4-D and the Klingon Encounter. It also includes a small museum of memorabilia, and an adjacent bar and restaurant built to resemble sets from the TV show.