This year, at the annual International Roofing Expo in Dallas in early March, attendees—including roofing contractors, C-suite leadership, designers and more—were shown the industry’s latest tools, technology and building materials. They also attended insightful educational sessions and demonstrations and networked with peers and manufacturers.
Chris Czarnik gave the keynote speech to kick off this year’s show. As an author, coach, trainer and expert on talent recruiting, engagement and retention, Czarnik utilized his expertise to discuss retention and hiring challenges (and solutions) in the roofing industry today and in the coming years. (Keep an eye out in the coming weeks for our coverage of Czarnik’s process.)
If you weren't able to attend IRE, ConstructioNext has you covered. Here are some of the major highlights from the 2023 show.
1. This year’s numbers of attendees and exhibitors blew the roof off previous records.
With nearly 600 exhibitors filling 175,000 square feet of exhibit space, more than 60 educational sessions and registration lines winding through Dallas’ Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, IRE drove home the adage that everything is bigger in Texas.
2. Speakers and events drove home the value of diversity, inclusion and community service to the future of the industry.
National Women in Roofing hosted its sixth annual NWiR Day at the convention center the Sunday prior to the show’s start. Women representing all facets of the roofing industry gathered to learn from the speakers and one another. Breakout session topics included business development, communications, career development, community service, recruitment, roofing technology advancements and hands-on product demonstrations.
The following day, the local chapter of Rebuilding Together again partnered with IRE for the 14th annual Community Service Day Project. Volunteers from across the country gathered to donate time, labor and supplies to help a community member with roof repairs.
Additionally, SRS Distribution, a show partner for IRE, hosted a Para Latinos lounge at its booth as part of its ongoing efforts to support the Latino and Spanish-speaking contractor community in the U.S. The booth offered attendees education and networking opportunities in Spanish, as well as a happy hour featuring a mariachi band.
The future of the industry is in good hands, too, if the students who took part in the Roofing Alliance's Construction Management Student Competition are any indication. This year, the six finalist teams were tasked with submitting a qualified bid package for Globe Life Field, a retractable roof stadium in Arlington, Texas, that is home to MLB’s Texas Rangers. Judges combined the oral presentation scores with the teams’ written proposal scores to determine the winners.
First, second and third place winners were, respectively, Clemson University, University of Florida and Texas A&M University. Dylan Smithwick, of Colorado State University, and Adam Wascher, of Bradley University, were named this year’s best individual presenters as well.
3. Specialty pavilions drew plenty of attention.
The Metal Marketplace was a popular spot for attendees to gather and learn about the latest products, designs, tools and more from metal roofing manufacturers.
The Business and Technology Pavilion showcased the latest products and services to help contractors run businesses more efficiently as well as safely. Popular products included mobile, wireless and web-based programs for aspects of business management such as insurance, finance, credit, estimating, labor and more. Lead generation tools, marketing services and project software were particularly popular in this spot.
The Exteriors Pavilion showed off the latest windows and siding products and services, including live demos of products and practices in action on sample exterior projects.
4. Technology is reigning king.
Though to those outside the industry it may seem as if roofing technology is clinging to the past, plenty of exhibitors and speakers debunked that myth. There were too many to list, but a few highlights from IRE included:
- Malarkey Roofing Products, a member of the Holcim Building Envelope, announced the addition of radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags to its shingle lines. These small microchips are commonly used in hotel room key cards or antitheft devices at clothing retailers. Unlike barcodes, RFID tags can be read by a device even if they are covered or not visible, and the tags can also be read while inside a container, quickly providing information in bulk.
- Business management roofing software company AccuLynx unveiled its new mobile field app for roofers, which provides roofing contractors who use AccuLynx with “improved selling capabilities, more ways to communicate and better visibility into projects,” according to the company. Features of the roofing field app include the ability to create contact records and view estimates, contracts and calendars; interactive communication tools to manage messages, tasks and checklists; photo management tools; and more.
- CertainTeed released its Solstice Shingle, featuring “high-efficiency solar shingles (that) seamlessly integrate” with asphalt shingles, according to the company. The Solstice Shingles are about as energy efficient as conventional solar panels, according to CertainTeed, giving the sustainability benefits of solar without the bulkier look of traditional rack-mounted solar panels.