NECA 2018 Philadelphia Wrap Up

NECA Show 2018

The 2018 NECA Show has officially ended, and the Electrical Contractor staff can definitely say it was a resounding success. For the editorial team, the theme of this year’s show was Go!Go!Go! We zoomed around the trade show floor, visiting exhibitor’s booths, talking with manufacturers and learning about new products, technologies, services and industry trends we can feature in upcoming issues. We also met a lot of great contractors that stopped by our booth, getting feedback from long-time readers and picking up new subscribers along the way. 

On top of all of that, we wanted to cover everything that was going on at NECA 2018, so we could share it with all the people who couldn’t make it in person. You’ve probably noticed that ECmag.com is all about the NECA Show right now, and if you’re subscribed to our weekly e-newsletter list, you received all the NECA Show articles right to your inbox. (If you’re not subscribed, sign up here). You can also see our coverage on our social media channels—Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

A lot happened the last few days, but we’ve done our best to give you an overview here. Follow the links if you'd like to read more. 

Held in Philadelphia for the first time in 50 years, the 2018 NECA Convention and Trade Show had an astounding turnout. In addition to 300-plus exhibitors spread across the trade show floor, more than 10,000 registrants from across the country took part in the event and roughly 2,500 apprentices from the area attended Apprentice Appreciation Day on Sunday.

NECA Show Opening Celebration
NECA Show Opening Celebration

NECA Show activities began bright and early Saturday with the Board of Governor’s breakfast, followed by the Board of Governor’s meeting. Early birds had the chance to attend pre-convention educational workshops, a Student/Contractor Meet-and-Greet, as well as the Electri Green Energy Challenge where Iowa State took first place.

Iowa State University students present their project for the Green Energy Challenge.
Iowa State University students present their project for the Green Energy Challenge. 

The NECA show officially started Saturday night with an opening reception at the National Constitution Center. Attendees enjoyed the return of Milwaukee Tool’s Tool Shed Band, multimedia exhibits and the Center’s well-loved hall of 42 life-sized, bronze Founding Father statues. (Surprise! A few living statues snuck in between the ones made of metal.)

Day one of the trade show began with an opening general session talk by Keller Rinaudo, the founder and CEO of Zipline, who has been utilizing drone technology to carry life-saving medical supplies to areas in need. Read more about Rinaudo's amazing work here.

Attendees participate in a technical workshop on the trade show floor.
Attendees participate in a technical workshop on the trade show floor. 

Sunday marked the opening of the three-day trade show. It was also Apprentice Appreciation Day. Apprentices and attendees roamed the trade show floor, which featured rows of exhibitors, technical workshops, daily prizes, an area dedicated to outside line work, a Sports Zone and several the Products Presentation Theater and the Lighting & Controls Theater, where attendees could listen to manufacturer’s speak on a variety of topics. The show also housed a Health and Wellness Zone, which featured healthy cooking tutorials and office workouts, and Techtopia, which included technical presentations, a drone cage and a BIM cave.

NECA attendees at Techtopia
Attendees learn about new BIM technology at Techtopia.

The Showstopper Showcase was also available in a special section of the trade show floor. Sponsored by yours truly, Electrical Contractor magazine, Showstoppers opened an hour before the rest of the show floor and gave contractors a chance to inspect the newest tools and services on the market. The winners were selected Sunday morning. If you’re interested in these products keep an eye out for them in our January issue, where we will feature all of the Showstopper winners.

The BIM cave gave users a chance to explore BIM technology in virtual reality.
The BIM cave gave users a chance to explore BIM technology in virtual reality.

A Safety Round Table, where leading manufacturer’s talked about the importance of safety and strategies for preventing workplace safety hazards was also held on Sunday.

Day two—On Monday morning, NECA held a Rocky Fun Run, a 5K run or 1-mile walk on the Schuylkill River Trail, ending at the Waterworks event venue. Participants had a chance to take a photo with the Rocky statue and all the proceeds amounting to $37,000 donated to the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

The Rocky Fun Run
The Rocky Fun Run

Monday’s opening session featured ex-FBI special agent Chris Tarbell and former black-hat hacker Hector Monsegur, previously known by his hacker handle Sabu. These cyber-security experts were on opposite sides before Tarbell was part of the team that finally tracked down Monsegur, leading them to work together to prevent over 300 major cyberattacks. The pair shared their story and their expertise to help attendees protect themselves and their businesses.

The 13 Project Excellence Award winners were also announced for their outstanding work on projects in 2017.

2018 Project Excellence Award Winners
2018 Project Excellence Award Winners

The annual Women in NECA and Future Leaders roundtable was held Monday afternoon. This year session focused on the workforce shortage, recruiting and retaining workers, diversity and inclusion.

Tuesday was the third and final day of the NECA Show. The schedule of events was a little different than originally planned. The trade show ended early that day to accommodate a new speaker at the Closing General Session. The session began with Jon Dorenbos a former NFL long snapper for the Philadelphia Eagles turned magician. Dorenbos spoke about his life, overcoming adversity at a young age when his mother was murdered and creating a successful career as an athlete and entertainer.

Afterward, the new speaker, President Donald Trump, took the stage to talk about business issues that are critical to the electrical construction industry. He is the first sitting U.S. President to address NECA in its 117-year history. Recently, NECA signed the “Pledge to America’s Workers” with representatives from other trades, committing to help create 60,000 job opportunities over the next five years.

To finish out the 2018 NECA Show in Philadelphia, NECA held a closing celebration, featuring renowned rock band Foreigner at the Fillmore Philadelphia—a spectacular finish for a spectacular NECA Show.

The 2018 NECA Show closed with a concert by Foreigner.
The 2018 NECA Show closed with a concert by Foreigner. 

Well, that about covers everything. Check out our highlights of Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3 to catch anything we might have missed here.

NECA 2018 Philadelphia was another successful, exciting trip for the ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR crew. We’re all ready for a nap, but there’s no time to rest; we’ve got work to do. Expect your regularly scheduled EC Mag content, on the web and in your mailbox, soon!

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