I’ve been to a lot of SMACNA conferences, including a few in Hawaii, but I’ve never experienced anything like last week’s event on Maui.

It started out typical enough for a Hawaii conference: an exhausting 12-hour flight took me to the remote Pacific island chain, where I landed in sunshine and suffered from jet lag. Not that I’m complaining.

But then overnight Oct. 24, storms knocked out power around Wailea, the site of the Sheet Metal and Air-Conditioning Contractors’ National Association’s annual convention. As I would soon find out, the whole island was in the dark for a few hours.

That included the Marriott resort where SMACNA was holding its product show that day. A 6:30 a.m. sheet metal product show — in the dark, without coffee, food or air conditioning. But that was the scenario that greeted members that morning.

To the credit of the hotel staff, they were able to make a limited amount of coffee and supplied cold ham sandwiches. While not what SMACNA had expected, attendees were grateful for the grub. And many seemed to be happy to visit booths and browse product literature with flashlights.

Meanwhile, I was trying to figure out how I was going to produce an 8-page on-site flier with pictures from the conference that morning without power or Wi-Fi. I didn’t think it was possible.

But then, power came back. The coffeemakers were fired up and I could plug in my laptop and connect to the internet. The flier was printed — on time.

The whole experience taught me that as much as I enjoy Hawaii, paradise is a lot more fun with electricity — and coffee. More images from the conference are on Snips' Facebook page.