The National Pavement Expo (NPE) has long been positioned as a spring board for new ideas and a much-needed spark for the new year. With that in mind, next year’s show is scheduled for Jan. 25-27, 2023 in Charlotte, N.C.
NPE organizers work hard to bring vendors and contractors together who make their living from asphalt and concrete paving, sealcoating, striping, sweeping, crack repair, pavement repair, and snow removal. These groups have an opportunity to network with other paving professionals while attending educational sessions and talking with professionals on a huge expo floor.
Long before the show, members of the educational advisory board (EAB) sift through speaker proposals to find practical and informative topics that make the trip worthwhile. “We look for speakers who add value and provide a takeaway,” says Mark Carter, owner of Peloton Sweeping, Orange, Calif. and a member of the NPE EAB. “I've been going to NPE since 1979 and I've never failed to bring home a nugget of information that more than pays for my trip.”
Whether it’s owners who spend most days in the office or mid-level managers who are outside with their boots on the ground, wisdom comes from many perspectives. “We are looking for speakers who understand our pain points and provide ideas, solutions, or innovations,” Carter explains. “We're looking for speakers who appeal to the guys wearing wingtips and also to the guys wearing Red Wings.”
Balancing management strategies with street-level nuts and bolts issues is a particular NPE strength that EAB members are keen to continue. Carter calls it a “competitive advantage” that gives every pavement professional a reason to get on the plane and spend the time, money, and effort to attend.
While there are plenty of smooth and seasoned speakers, experience is not necessarily a prerequisite to get behind the podium. Honesty and practical knowledge go a long way toward connecting with attendees and getting closer to that crucial nugget of information. “We have the polished professionals that you see year after year—the recognizable names,” Carter says. “However, if it’s your first time in front of a crowd, that's okay. We're a friendly crowd. You're kind of coming home when you're a speaker to the pavement maintenance industry because we all have the same pain points. We all have the same experiences, so we're eager to hear what works for you.”
Apart from the educational sessions, there are networking events such as:
• Preview Night Party on Wednesday, Jan. 25 from 4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. that offers a first look at the exhibit hall;
• The Pavement Awards on Wednesday, Jan. 25 at 6:00 p.m. held on the show floor during Preview Night; and
• a series of Round Tables on Thursday, Jan. 26 and Friday, Jan. 27 at 4:45 on a variety of salient topics.
“And sometimes the best stuff you take away is at the bar afterwards when non-competitors can share a drink and a plate of nachos,” Carter adds. “It’s a great time to talk about innovations in the industry.”
For those who have never been to NPE, Carter acknowledges a misconception that the show is “only for the big guys” but he points out: “The big guys started coming to NPE when they were little guys. They attended when it was only their wife and a pick-up truck sealing driveways. They expanded to two trucks and came back. The next year they had five trucks and that’s how they got to be the mid-size or big guys with five, 10, or 20 employees…If you want to expand your business, NPE is the place to be.”