Connections 2003: The <I>ICS</I> Interview
There has been a lot of buzz in the cleaning and restoration industry concerning the Connections 2003 Convention and Trade Show coming this October, much of which is producing as many questions as answers. ICS Cleaning Specialist takes the opportunity to connect with Larry Cooper, managing director of the Connections Convention and Trade Show, to get the straight story regarding the what, where, when and why of Connections 2003.
ICS Cleaning Specialist: What is Connections 2003?
Larry Cooper: Connections 2003 is the national convention, trade show and cleaning college for the cleaning and restoration industry. The convention and trade show is being held in Las Vegas, Oct. 2-4. There are three certification classes being held prior to the convention and trade show, and two certification classes and one specialty leather cleaning class being held after the show. The IICRC is also holding its board of directors’ meeting and certification council following the convention. Equipment and product suppliers like Bridgepoint, Prochem and Steam Way will also hold events around the show.
The convention and trade show has nine sponsoring companies, including ICS Cleaning Specialist, that have financially supported the effort of having an international convention and trade show for our industry. The convention brings together the most powerful leaders, speaker and suppliers in our industry. The education program focuses on cleaning (carpet, upholstery and hard surface), restoration (water and mold), inspecting carpet and hard surfaces, managing your business, marketing your business, organizing your office and working with your customers, and how to be more profitable. We also will have a Spanish-language track for the first time in our industry.
The trade show has over 120 booths. We have an outdoor truck-mounted equipment demonstration area with over a dozen units. The trade show will be very busy, with special convention deals from our exhibitors. There will be demonstrations in the booths, as well as entertainment. This will be the largest trade show of the year.
ICS: Who should think about attending Connections?
LC: The convention, trade show and cleaning college are open to all who would be interested in attending. The people and companies who would benefit the most are those who are currently in the cleaning, restoration/remediation and inspection business or are thinking about getting into the business.
The show is sponsored by eight non-profit trade associations from across North America. We encourage the members of those associations to attend, and for non-members to come together with the association members and get to know more companies in your area and from across North America. The greatest value of attending a convention and trade show is the opportunity to network with, learn from and get to know your fellow cleaners and restorers.
ICS: What makes Connections stand out from other cleaning and restoration industry shows?
LC: The Connections Convention and Trade Show brings together eight associations and other groups and companies that would otherwise hold their own smaller programs. By connecting together, the associations and others are able to bring together an incredible educational program for attendees as well as providing for an international forum for the cleaning and restoration industry. We are able to bring together the largest trade show for the industry, and give cleaners and restorers an opportunity to see, demonstrate and discuss the most up-to-date equipment, technology and products in our industry.
Connections will have separate tracks for the attendees. This show will have a focus on cleaning that other shows have forgotten about. We have the leading experts in our industry presenting on topics around water damage restoration and mold remediation. Finally, we have not forgotten what makes companies profitable and unique and have brought together a very strong program on marketing, management and sales.
The show has very strong synergy with IICRC instructors, board member and others coming into the show. This is an opportunity for attendees to meet industry experts and fellow cleaners to develop new relationship and learn from each other.
Last, but definitely not least, we know how to party! We have parties featured every night. So not only are you in Vegas the party town, but you can start out the evening partying on us. We have parties planned Wednesday through Saturday nights, with Saturday night being a must-not-miss event with celebrations, awards and live Las Vegas entertainment.
ICS: What will the educational program include? What are some of the subjects being addressed?
LC: The educational program starts out with four featured events. ICS Cleaning Specialist is hosting a session on cleaning with three top experts from the industry: Jeff Bishop, Tom Hill and Bob Wittkamp. The Low Moisture Carpet Cleaning Association will host “Connections to hands on Low Moisture Carpet Cleaning Procedures.” This session will feature Lonnie McDonald, Geoff Greeley, John Geurkink and Paul Duffy.
Restoration Consultants will host a session on the mold connection, “What does the future hold for mold.” This session is hosted by James Holland, CEO of Restoration Consultants, and features John Banta and Tim Toburen. Bridgepoint will present a session on “Connection to Management and Marketing” hosted by Rob Hanks and featuring Howard Partridge and Tom Porter.
The convention officially opens on Friday morning with a keynote address from our friend Barry Costa of The Costa Group. This talk will kick off a major fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in memory of Kim Costa. This talk will challenge all of us to connect with our lives, businesses and families. Later, attorney Edward Cross will speak about proper communications with customers, contracts and all the things we should and shouldn’t say and do as cleaners and restorers.
We will hold concurrent breakout sessions so that there is something for everyone. We have included tracks on cleaning, restoration, management/marketing, office, inspections, as well as tracks in Spanish. Joe Polish will present the “World’s Greatest Money Making Marketing Secrets for Professional Cleaners and Restorers.” Joe is always exciting and entertaining to see and hear as he challenges the audience to make more money in their business. Finally, we will have an industry trends panel to close out the show.
ICS: How many exhibitors are expected at Connections? What type of equipment and products will attendees get the chance to see?
LC: The trade show will feature over 120 booths and over a dozen outdoor demonstration truck spaces. The exhibitors will be showing equipment for the cleaning industry, the restoration industry, new tools, equipment, products, and services.
There is a large diversity of products and services to see and try, from truck-mounted units to a dry cleaning processes; testing instruments to drying equipment; organic products to fluorochemicals; Chevy trucks to riding extractors and more.
In addition, there will be technical schools, associations, and the IICRC. There will also be equipment and supplies introduced for the first time in our industry.
ICS: When cleaning and restoration professionals ask you why they should spend their time and money at Connections, what do you tell them?
LC: Professionals in our industry stay up to date and take every opportunity to network, learn, teach and try the most up-to-date products and equipment to provide better- and more-competitive services for their customers. Connections will give attendees the opportunity to continue their education, meet other cleaners and industry leaders, learn new and advanced tricks of the trade and learn how to be more profitable in their businesses. The greatest value of attending a convention and trade show is the opportunity to network and learn from your fellow cleaners and restorers.
Connections will be the single largest convention and trade show of the year. It will give attendees the opportunity to part of event that will move the industry forward. There will be discussions about standards, certification classes, new technology, legislation that affects our businesses, and good old cleaning techniques. Connections will feature a session on hands-on cleaning methods using various dry-cleaning methods. We have all heard of the various carpet-cleaning methods, but have you tried them all first hand?
ICS: What is the cost of Connections? Do members of industry associations get a discount? What about WFCA members?
LC: For members of industry trade associations, the cost of Connections is $395 for the first person from a company and $345 per additional person. We will honor every trade association membership in the discount this year. Non-members fees are $495 for the first person and $445 per additional person from the company. The WFCA offers scholarships to their members that can be applied toward educational programs, and the Connections Convention would be eligible for their funding. You must be a member of WFCA to be eligible.
The trade show is open to the public on Saturday, Oct. 4, and is free if you pre-register at least 30 days in advance. If you want to just show up at the door the cost is $25 for the trade show only.
ICS: If someone wanted more information on Connections, whom should they contact?
LC: For more information on the Connections Convention and Trade Show, call (888) 881-1001, or go to our web site at www.connections03.org. You can also fax us at (303) 469-6749. We now have an eight-page brochure available for more details on the program.