Special to CONTRACTOR
LOVELAND, COLO. — With two regional RadFests under its belt, the Radiant Panel Association already is making plans to improve future events. The first RadFest took place in April in Madison, Wis. (May, pg. 5); the second was held May 21-22 in Loveland.
“It is a learning experience for us,” said RPA Executive Director Lawrence Drake. “Future RadFests will be one-day events with a lot packed into 12 hours. One thing we learned is that our live version of the RPA’s RadNet Internet bulletin board will be held separately from the trade show so more people can enjoy getting together around a table to banter about interesting topics.
“We will provide a hamburger and hot dog-style dinner for those who want to join us after work. Full-day schools will be held the day before RadFest instead of on the same day so students can participate as well.”
These events are called RadFests, which is short for radiant festival, and RPA plans to hold them in numerous locations across the country each year. The next one is being planned for early November in Portland, Ore. At least four RadFests will be held in 2005, one in each time zone, Drake said.
Next year’s regional events could take on added significance with RPA now co-locating its national meeting and Radiant Expo trade show with ISH-North America. ISH-NA will take place Oct. 14-16 in Boston and will not occur again until 2006 in Chicago.
The recent Rocky Mountain RadFest took place at the newly opened Ranch Event Center in Loveland, which also is home to RPA’s national office. The open floor design offered seminars in tented areas surrounded by exhibits, which displayed electric and hydronic radiant floor systems, boilers, radiators, fan coils, controls, air quality equipment, floor covering options and other products. Along with the seminars on the show floor, RPA offered full-day radiant schools in adjoining meeting rooms taught by RPA member and CONTRACTOR hydronics columnist Mark Eatherton and former RPA President Ted Lowe of IPEX.
More than 350 people attended the Rocky Mountain RadFest, nearly the same number as at the Madison event. It drew contractors, suppliers, builders and designers primarily from Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, New Mexico, Kansas and Nebraska, although a few came from as far away as New York.
Although some exhibitors said they were disappointed with the turnout, Drake said exhibitors and attendees both expressed approval of the format and encouraged the RPA to continue with the RadFest concept. He added that many attendees told him the uncrowded and casual atmosphere allowed them to spend time investigating equipment and opportunities as well as giving exhibitors the chance to spend time with their customers in meaningful conversation.
“This is an event designed for suppliers and sales reps to mingle with local contractors and others in the building trade like architects, builders and engineers,” Drake said. “This is a new approach for the RPA. We are bringing the conference experience to the field. We want it to be a comfortable and informative event that fits into the busy schedule of hard-working contractors.”
Information can be found at www.RPAconference.com or by calling 800/660-7187.