The Eighth Annual National Pavement Expo West went off virtually without a hitch (though a roomful of stripers listening to Mick Vinckier reportedly jumped a foot when the bulb blew on the LCD projector), but despite positive vibes from almost all the contractors I talked with, NPE West was still beset with much of the same trouble affecting the rest of the economy. Attendance and exhibit space took a dip -- no surprise there -- so seminars and workshops were a little lighter than normal. But the content was still there, as was the interest. Mick, who often has contractors repeat his class to see what else they can learn, noted only five people who said they'd taken his session before. And Jeff Stokes, one of a handful of long-time presenters, said his group in the "Killer Marketing" session was the most energized and enthusiastic he's had in quite a while. That might be attributable to the economy as well, as contractors look to grow in what are certainly tough economic times, but it could just as easily be attributed to the quality of the folks who attend NPE West and NPE. More on NPE West in the days to come, and if you were there let me know how it went for you.