A Beginner’s Guide to NECA 2018 Philadelphia

The NECA Convention and Trade Show is coming to Philadelphia for the first time in 50 years, and those attending their first-ever show may be trying to figure out how to get the most out of their time in the City of Brotherly Love.

The first thing to know is the NECA Show offers much to do outside of the show floor. From Sept. 29–Oct. 2, attendees have access to education, meetings, parties, and even a performance by legendary rock band Foreigner. However, the show floor itself shouldn’t be forgotten, since it provides a close-up look at some of the latest products, services and technology that will help any electrical contractor grow their business.

Saturday, Sept. 29

While the floor doesn’t open until Sunday, some of the convention’s most in-depth education sessions occur on Saturday. Seven preconvention workshops at the Pennsylvania Convention Center will educate attendees on leadership, finances, code changes and more. Note that these preconvention workshops require separate, advance registration fees.

Other events on Saturday include ELECTRI International’s Green Energy Challenge, which showcases the innovative work of NECA Student Chapters, followed by a Student/Contractor Meet and Greet.

Finally, at night, the convention will take over the National Constitution Center for the Opening Reception. The museum will be open for attendees to explore, all while enjoying food, drink and a performance by Milwaukee Tool’s Tool Shed Band.

Sunday, Sept. 30

If you get up early on Sunday morning, there are plenty of ways to spend the few hours until the show floor officially opens at 11:30. There are 50-minute education sessions starting at 8 a.m. and 9 a.m., and a huge Apprentice Appreciation Day event begins at 9 a.m. The Opening General Session at 10:15 a.m. will feature guest speaker Keller Rinaudo, CEO and founder of Zipline, a company that uses drones to save lives.

Finally, if you want to check out some of the latest innovative products up for NECA Showstopper awards (sponsored by ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR magazine), that section of the show floor opens one hour before the rest of the show, at 10:30 a.m.

At 11:30, it will be time to take to the floor and see what the more than 300 exhibitors have to offer. Be sure to make time for Techtopia, a large pavilion that spotlights new disruptive technology and digital media strategies for you to use in your business. You’ll be able to check out drones, augmented reality, a new BIM cave and more.

For those who want to attend while keeping track of Sunday’s NFL games, the NECA Sports Zone (Booth 1047) has plenty of TVs as well as refreshments. Also, for more education offerings, check out the Technical Workshops running throughout the day in booths 345 and 351. These workshops will be running on Monday and Tuesday, as well.

Monday, Oct. 1

Monday may begin early for you if you're into physical fitness and you've already registered for the Rocky Fun Run. It is a 5k run or 1-mile walk with registration proceeds going to Susan G. Koman. The route includes sights that Rocky Balboa ran past in during his classic training scene. Unfortunately, registration is sold out, but if you ever wanted to play the role of Rocky's neighbors cheering him on, this could be a fun activity to start your day.

The show floor once again opens at 11:30 a.m. Beforehand, there are various committee breakfasts, more 50-minute education sessions, and a General Session with cybersecurity experts Hector Monsegur and Chris Tarbell.

During the show itself, why not come by Booth 2408 and say hello to the ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR magazine staff? Other cool options on the show floor include the brand-new Health & Wellness Zone, and the massive Lineman Pavilion, where NECA hopes to show how outside contractors and linemen are a vital part of the electrical construction industry.

There also will be two presentation theaters where products and solutions will be shown off throughout the course of the convention. The Product Presentation Theater (Booth 1618) will feature talks from 18 companies, while the Lighting and Controls Theater (Booth 214) will spotlight the latest from 17 companies in the lighting/controls market.

Tuesday, Oct. 2

The final day of the show has the earliest start, with the show floor open from 9 a.m.­–1 p.m. Use this time to check out any areas of the floor you missed, and then attend the closing general session at 1:15 p.m. Besides a talk from former Philadelphia Eagle (and current magician) Jon Dorenbos, this session will feature the final prize drawings of the show. For more on these drawings, see your convention registration packet.

After that, the NECA Convention and Trade Show will come to an end Tuesday night at The Fillmore Philadelphia. There, legendary rock band Foreigner will perform as part of the Closing Celebration.

For more information on NECA 2018 Philadelphia, visit necaconvention.org.

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