The critics were out in droves prior to the 2008 Connections
Convention and Trade Show in Las Vegas, Sept. 24-26. “Attendance will be down,”
they said; “The buyers won’t make the trip,” they said; “Everything is trending
down” and “I don’t know what they’re going to do,” they said.
What they did was quite simple: they opened the doors and
welcomed 3,000-plus attendees to a trend-bucking event that for all appearances
seemed to indicate a strong, resilient core in the cleaning and restoration
industries. No industry is impervious to downward swings and outside
influences, but the Connections Events again showed an ability to attract a
vibrant, engaged cross-section of the industry determined to succeed.
Beyond the trade show itself, the three-day event saw
numerous speakers, seminars and educational events dispensing advice and
expertise tailor-made for a challenging economic environment; highly
sought-after advice, judging from the attendance.
One of the many highlights of the Connections Convention is
the Industry Awards Banquet. The 2008 Industry Connections Award, presented to
“an individual, company or group that has forged connections and partnerships
between the cleaning and restoration industries and other industries” went to
LMCCA co-founder and executive director Lonnie McDonald.
The Connections Kenway Mead Leadership Award for “an
individual, company or group that has displayed vision, leadership and tireless
energy on behalf of the cleaning and restoration industry on a regional,
national or international level” was presented posthumously to industry icon
Bob Wittkamp, while the ICS Cleaning Specialist Ralph Bloss Humanitarian Award,
an award that “honors members of the floor care industry whose compassion,
self-sacrifice, leadership and creativity produce significant and outstanding
benefits for mankind,” went to Karl F. Bohr of Best Karpet Klean in Cleveland,
The evening also saw the presentation of a new award from
the IICRC: the Cy Gantt Award, recognizing “individuals who have made
significant long-term commitments to the overall inspection, cleaning and
restoration industry.” The inaugural award was presented to its namesake,
long-time industry figure and honorary IICRC board member Cy Gantt.
The Connections Events are a collaborative effort that would
not be possible without the cooperation and vision of 13 different industry
associations: the AWCC; the CCINW; the CFI; the FIO; the CRCII; the LMCCA; the
MSPCA; the SCRT; the NEIRC; the NYRCI; the TRSCA, and the PCUCA.
The 2009 Connections Conference and Exhibition will be held
in Clearwater, Fla., May 14-16. The Connections Convention and Trade Show will
return to Las Vegas, Sept. 9-11. For more information go to www.connectionsconvention.org.