Weathering the storm - the 38th National Demolition Association annual convention
By Lindsay Gale01 June 2011
Delegates assembled for the 38th NDA Annual Convention in the familiar facilities of the Mirage Hotel on the Las Vegas strip in early March. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the North American demolition industry is still experiencing a period of downturn and the attendance certainly suggests that this is the case.
Just over 800 delegates were registered for the event and while this was an improvement over 2009, when there were some 750 attendees, it is still considerable short of the numbers attracted to the event in better years. Many equipment suppliers have said that it is the scrap sector that has rebounded faster than straight demolition and these numbers tend to confirm that this is the case.
It has to be said that the exhibit hall was sparsely occupied at times, and even the flurry of activity at lunchtime observed at last year's event seemed to be less noticeable this year. Once again, however, the quality of the attendees was such that many exhibitors were not unduly troubled.
The event was opened by keynote speaker Clyde Fessler, who told the "Harley-Davidson Turnaround Story," in which the last remaining American motorcycle manufacturer - facing heavy foreign competition - was able to recapture the highly competitive market while creating one of the most admired brands in the world. While not related directly to the industry, he was selected to fill this slot by the NDA because, according to executive director Mike Taylor: "he has beaten the odds in a highly competitive marketplace. We knew he could help inspire our convention attendees to do the same thing in their industries."
This was followed by breakout sessions on topics as diverse as Adam Dykstra's "Identifying Refrigerated Appliances" and Evelyn Swain's, "Regulatory Issues in Refrigerant Recovery" through to past president Ray Passeno's "NDA Website - The Source for All Things Demolition".
As is always the case with the NDA convention, a heavy emphasis is laid on the social side of the demolition business, with delegates gathering for the usual Cat-sponsored cocktail reception on the Sunday night, a 'magic' theme night on the Monday and the usual annual banquet on the last night of the event. The Theme night was a highlight, featuring as it did a magic show starring Jason Byrne, Kevin James and Mac King.