It seems there's not enough time to take in all that World of Concrete has to offer.
Bill Palmer It seems there's not enough time to take in all that World of Concrete has to offer.

Not everyone understands the attraction of the World of Concrete. Why would 50,000 people trek to Las Vegas for several days? And why would anyone, producers and contractors alike, attend the WOC more than once? After all, how much really changes from one year to the next?

Those were some of the thoughts I mulled over on our way home from this year’s WOC. And as I reflected on our experience this time around, I was reminded of the phrase, “You never step in the same river twice.”

Watch a video of Craig Cottongim discussing World of Concrete and more from 2016.

Last year was our first time we went, and, frankly it felt like there wasn’t enough time to take it all in. I was overwhelmed trying to attend as many educational sessions as I could fit in and still hit all of the exhibits. After each exhilarating day, I went to bed exhausted, wrestling with how much I still didn’t know about concrete.

This year, I felt like we knew the layout and we were able to plan each day better. My wife and I looked over the schedule closer than we did last year and poured over the map of all the booths. When we hit the convention center, we were ready to roll. So we got so much more out of this year. It was a very productive trip and I haven't stopped talking about it since we came home.

Here are some of my key takeaways.

  • WOC is a great environment for generating new ideas. I took a lot of notes, and as I sat in different sessions and visited various booths, I considered how we could implement the innovations. One novel idea that struck me was “gifting” the contractors who hire us. We visited a booth that displayed “strategic gifts,” or high-end business gifts that people will really use and they won’t throw away, like engraved Cutco knives. Instead of passing out coffee mugs, pens, and tee-shirts to promote your business, pass out gifts that truly leave a lasting impression, like a personalized hunting knife!
  • WOC is the perfect event for personal development. Between watching demos, attending the educational sessions, and certification classes, no other event has so many possibilities in one place to improve our abilities and gain knowledge of our great trade.
  • It's also a good source of encouragement and advice. We all face challenges and need fresh ideas, and there were several opportunities to bounce questions off of other concrete enthusiasts. And speaking of looking to our industry’s future, I was impressed by the donations for and the turnout at the Concrete Industry Management auction, which raised about $875,000.

My wife and I came away more excited about our future in concrete as we talked with various vendors and we have daydreamed about some of the equipment we saw and want to add to our company over the next several years.

The WOC is like a smorgasbord for our all-around improvement. I can't recommend it enough. It will never get old because we are participating in the world’s most important industry, and are making the greatest contributions to civilization. Yes, we have our work cut out for us in replenishing our aging/depleted workforce, but WOC is like a petri dish where we go to cultivate and explore and investigate innovative ideas, methods, tools and equipment. Who wouldn’t find that interesting?

This originally appeared in Concrete Construction.