The theme for NECA 2013 Washington is “a different kind of power.” With our association’s big annual happening being held in the nation’s capital—still the most powerful city on earth, full of history and history in the making—it’s a most appropriate slogan.


I think a similar phrase also fits well in connection with NECA’s national convention, trade show and all the surrounding events: “a different kind of grid.”


Think about it. In its most basic definition, an electrical grid is an interconnected network for transmitting power that was generated from distant sources to demand centers where it is distributed to consumers. For NECA 2013 Washington, the demand center is the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. And, here, power takes the form of knowledge.


NECA has searched far and wide for expert speakers and instructors so that electrical contractors can learn new and better ways of doing business from the best minds in our industry. NECA 2013 Washington, D.C., includes preconvention workshops, management seminars and technical workshops—nearly 50 different educational opportunities to learn from leading experts on the industry trends, business practices and technology shaping electrical construction today. Special sessions include the third annual NECA Energy Forum, the second annual Safety Forum, NECA’s Student Chapter Summit and fifth Green Energy Challenge, the Women In NECA Roundtable, and a meeting of NECA’s international chapters.


NECA has attracted some 300 exhibitors who are eager to show off the best innovations in tools, equipment, products and software; they are also interested in learning more about how to meet electrical contractors’ needs. At the show, you’ll see a vigorous focus on the expanding energy solutions market and other new and emerging opportunities, but you’ll also find practical ways to improve your company’s profitability on the job every day.


Technical workshops are free with admission to the NECA Show, and they offer some of the most timely and valuable information available at the event. NECA has partnered with our exhibitors to present 19 technical workshops, covering power quality, data center projects, improving productivity, alternative-energy opportunities, new management tips, LEDs, security and life safety, and more. The NECA Show also includes the annual ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR magazine Showstopper Awards for the best product innovations.


NECA has arranged some outstanding events that are sure to inspire—from an opening reception of epic proportions at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History to the closing celebration with country singer/songwriter Phil Vassar. NECA 2013 Washington is all about providing the information and tools we contractors need while having a lot of fun in the process.


And think about this: Just one new idea, just one bit of information that you bring back from NECA 2013 Washington and apply in your business could more than pay for your trip. Yes, I know; it sounds like a cliche, but many cliches exist because they contain often-repeated truths. I can attest to the truth of that statement from my own experience.


I can also attest that the NECA Show demonstrates that connectivity has more than one meaning in the electrical industry. Our annual exposition is the product of a symbiotic relationship. Exhibitors are drawn to it because they know it is where they’ll meet leading electrical contractors, and contractors go because we know we will meet outstanding people from the organizations that make our companies work.


So, I’d like to stop right here and thank all of our show exhibitors, especially the event and amenity sponsors. Thanks, in particular, to NECA’s Premier Partners—Federated Insurance, Graybar, Milwaukee Electric Tool, Schneider Electric, Thomas & Betts, Trimble and Westex. These seven industry leaders are visible throughout the year, but they have made a special commitment to make NECA 2013 Washington the best showcase of innovation and talent for the entire electrical construction industry. More than a dozen other great companies also have contributed to the success of NECA 2013 Washington by sponsoring various elements.


I would also like to thank all electrical contracting professionals, NECA members and nonmembers alike, who make the NECA Show a success just by being there. It has been my experience that one of the most valuable benefits of attending NECA events is the opportunity to network with my fellow electrical contractors. NECA 2013 Washington presents opportunities to meet contractors of all sizes and specialties—from all across the country and beyond.


I’m looking forward to talking with savvy electrical contractors who want to reap the benefits of recent market stabilization and prepare for tomorrow’s opportunities. I know I’ll be surrounded by them at NECA 2013 Washington!