Construction Expo back, 20% bigger
By Lisa Green | The Journal Gazette
Nothing like a demonstration to help understand the potential of technology.
Hundreds of contractors and other professionals will have the opportunity to see and learn more about drones and other industry topics this week at the Construction World Expo at Memorial Coliseum.
The trade show returned to Fort Wayne last year after a six-year hiatus.
About 100 different companies will fill about 250 booths.
“We're running about 20 percent over and above last year, so it's grown. The construction business is booming,” David Marquart of Coliseum Productions, the producer and manager of the expo, said last week.
He hopes at least 3,000 to 4,000 attend the two-day event that starts Wednesday.
Planners have worked with other sponsors and organizations to add new features this year. Those include a job fair Wednesday and a breakfast Thursday at which Greater Fort Wayne Inc. CEO Eric Doden will speak. Doden and other community leaders have been promoting efforts such as downtown and riverfront development.
“I thought people in the construction industry need to know what's going on,” Marquart said.
Greater Fort Wayne is conscious of the role contractors will play in many of the development plans underway in the city, said Cheri Becker, vice president leadership development and community engagement for the organization.
Doden's Thursday presentation is expected to provide updates on major development initiatives but also a thanks for contractors – to “share the vision and celebrate the momentum,” Becker said.
Officials announced in January that the Fort Wayne-area construction industry had a record $1 billion in building permits last year issued through the Allen County Building Department. The dollar value of permits topped the previous record year in 2015 by about $100 million. Commercial building accounted for more than 60 percent of the activity.
Along with multiple presentations on drones, informational sessions will also address some of the latest technology, OSHA standards, digital recruitment and web presence including social media.
Marquart said the drone presentations will help attendees see how useful they can be on construction job sites and for inspections.
“Drones just don't do photography, they actually can take measurements,” Marquart said. “I mean drones are hot. Technology is hot. ... These are active, flying, do-things demonstrations, so it's not an inactive sit-there presentation.”
Coliseum Productions has been providing show logistics and event management for 32 years and has handled more than 3,000 events in 250 cities.
Lori Harvey, executive director of the Building Contractors Association, said the expo comes at a good time since seasonal cold-and-snowy weather prevents some construction work, such as excavating.
Last year, 2,500 attended the expo, 20 percent of them BCA members. Forty percent of those attending, according to the expo's website, were in top leadership positions with companies – CEOs, owners, principals, for example. Nearly 40 percent worked in residential construction and nearly 50 percent in commercial. Attendees came from 123 ZIP codes across five states.
The Construction World Expo is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday at Memorial Coliseum. Highlights include:
- Roundtable forum addressing, showing some of the latest Silica tooling, noon to 2 p.m.
- Fort Wayne Newspapers Construction Job Fair, 3 to 7 p.m.
- Toolbelt Tournament, 5 p.m.
- BCA Economic Development Breakfast; Greater Fort Wayne Inc. CEO Eric Doden will speak, 7:30 a.m.
- Drone Test Flight, 9 a.m.
- Drone Demos, 11 a.m.
BCA members can attend for free; admission is $9 for others. For more information, go to www.constructionworldexpo.org/