Why I’ve been Attending National Pavement Expo for a Long, Long Time

Why contractors should attend National Pavement Expo

I’ve been attending National Pavement Expo (NPE) since it was called National Pavement Maintenance Expo and was referred to as NPME. And yes, that dates me a little. And though things have changed over the years, one thing that remains the same: NPE is the premier source to learn the trade, see and buy new equipment. 

My first shows were just me attending solo; talk about a sensory experience from all angles! A lot of industry pros, cool equipment, great seminars -- it was just quite the experience. As time went on I started taking my right-hand guy, which now has evolved into taking our top guys and even some lower level staff.

Why do I do it?

You just can’t beat the level of pavement-related education anywhere else. The ability to take seminars and listen to industry veterans share their stories is invaluable. If you listen well to the speakers, you can often find the answers and keys to your own growth. Seminar topics include a wide range -- from management-related sessions to “how tos,” and even beginner courses.  There is something for everyone at NPE. 

As strange as it might sound, I absolutely enjoy taking a session that I’ve already taken before. No, it’s not because I didn't learn anything the first (or second, or...), but just the opposite. Each time I take a class I learn more and more.

One of my all-time favorite sessions was a class on pavement defects, presented by the great late industry veteran Alan Curtis. (That session is now presented at NPE by Wayne Jones, The Asphalt Institute.) It was through that class that I learned so much about what I was doing that it gave me the confidence to accurately diagnose a client’s pavement problems with ease. I took it every year. Not only did I continue to learn and refine my knowledge of asphalt, but to hear the many stores of Alan’s career was the icing on the cake. Very few times in life can we hear so often from those who have really made a difference in the industry, and NPE is one of those times.

As much as the conference provides business management insights and technical training, the show floor provides opportunities to see “the latest and greatest” equipment, tools and materials. In fact, it’s usually where brand new equipment is released. It’s a great opportunity to really feel things out before you buy. But even if you’re not in the market for a new sealcoating rig, simply visiting with suppliers and exhibitors can be valuable. (Another benefit, unknown to those who don’t attend NPE, is that very often exhibitors will make killer deals if you are willing to buy and take the piece home after the show.)  

But as much as I learn from the seminars and enjoy talking with exhibitors, my all-time favorite part of NPE is the networking. I’ll admit, I’m a talker. But I also have learned so much over the years just by networking in the halls, on the show floor, after the seminars, and at the free “roundtable” question-and-answer sessions.

A while back, a group of us – contractors I’ve gotten to know over the years through NPE -- were talking about NPE and observed that while there is never any guarantee of success in business or life, those of us that have regularly attended the show and got involved in the industry are still around and thriving. Is there a correlation?  Maybe, maybe not. But it’s a gamble I’d take anytime.

See you at the show!