Featuring Bob Miodonski and Mike Murphy
Intro: Welcome to Profiles In Prosperity with your host David Heimer.
David Heimer: Welcome to Profiles In Prosperity. I’m David Heimer today; we’re talking with Bob Miodonski and Mike Murphy from BNP Media. Bob is the Group Publisher for the Plumbing Group. Mike is the Group Publisher for the HVAC Group. Both have a long history in our industry, serving as journalists, editors, and publishers. Both are significant thought leaders in this space. So today, we want to have a little bit of fun. We’re going to turn the tables on them. Usually, they’re on the other side of the interviewing table and we’re going to interview them specifically about the new industry show, Service World Expo. So welcome gentlemen.
Bob Miodonski: Hi David.
Mike Murphy: Hi David. Thank you.
David Heimer: So, this is fun for me to get to interview you guys, as opposed to the other way around. So this was Service World Expos’ inaugural event. Both of you guys were there. It’s the first new trade show for the industry in a very long time. You guys attended, what were your impressions?
Bob Miodonski: Well, I guess, this is Bob, full disclosure here, David, with plumbing and mechanical and Reeves journal being official media partners for Service World Expo. I still believe I can state objectively that the event was a great success. I was particularly impressed with the strong education program. I sat in on a number of the workshops and also the interaction I observed between the contractors and manufacturers and other service providers who were exhibitors on the trade show floor. And I got to say the after-hours networking events were a lot of fun too.
Mike Murphy: Hey, and this is Mike Murphy and from my perspective, David, and I’ll kind of echo a little bit of what Bob said. It was probably one of the most innovative trade shows that I’ve attended in a long time and obviously as a co-partner, we would sound somewhat biased on the phone today. But going into that, there were many people that didn’t really know what it was going to be about. Until the doors opened, no one really knew, and that was the exciting part about it and I think we got into discussing the number of attendees, etcetera, it just exceeded my expectations. I was a little surprised at the number of people that we did get to come to an inaugural year event like that and I’m really looking forward to blowing the doors off of it in the coming year.
David Heimer: Yes. Attendance did look pretty good and looked full to me. What did you guys think?
Bob Miodonski: It’s Bob again, just being a first-time event, Mike and I did talk about our expectations and I think Mike, you, and I, we’re pretty conservative about when we were trying to estimate or predict how many contractors would attend the first Service World Expo. And I got to say the actual numbers just blew away the estimates that Mike and I came up with. I’d have to say I was very impressed with how many people showed up for the event, you know, the first time out of the gate.
Mike Murphy: Yes. I’d have to, again, echo Bob on that one and if you actually go to the Service World Expo site, it notes that there were more than 700 total people in attendance. And frankly, the number that I was broadcasting to people last year, as we were helping them promote, it was like, hey, our goal is to hit 400 and no doubt, we blew that out of the water by hitting over 700 total people to attend that event.
David Heimer: Yes. I mean, there are a lot of events that happen in Las Vegas for good and for bad. I mean, I think you guys are like me, you go to Las Vegas, a fair amount for industry events. And so I was going to this thinking, well again in Las Vegas, but it seemed like it was a pretty good location for it, lots of people were there, lots of fun. What did you guys think?
Mike Murphy: In the past, I’ve actually staged at an event or two with another manufacturing firm that I used to work with years ago had stage new events in Las Vegas and had some hesitation about that and what we found then, and I think what we all found with the Service World Expo is that, if you have good content, you don’t have to worry about that age-old problem of people getting up and going to the graph tables during the middle of the day. But if you’ve got good content, people will stay in the meetings, and obviously, Vegas has a certain attraction, all its own. And it does create a great social atmosphere too, but when it comes right down to it, I think it’s all about the content of the meetings themselves, the networking that goes on, on the trade show floor and the educational sessions. And if you’ve got the right material and the right people presenting that material you don’t have to worry too much about the fact that people are going to wander off and go ride the rides or like to go gambling. So Vegas is a very good venue for meetings. In fact, it’s one of the top spots in the country. I think having Service World Expo use Vegas as a slot or a rotating venue is a great idea. And I think it’s going to meet with continued success.
Bob Miodonski: I think as a great point, Mike, about content, as you both know, holding an event in Las Vegas can be a double-edged sword, which I think Mike was alluding to. I mean, Las Vegas usually can guarantee a high number of people registering for an event I held there. That’s the good news. The bad news, as Mike mentioned, is that the people who registered sometimes do not show up for the trade show or the workshops because Vegas has so many other distractions: they’re in the casino or buying show tickets or riding the rides as Mike said. But Service World, I think the contractors who registered actually showed up for the trade show and workshops, and that was very impressive. And I would add that the Tropicana venue there certainly exceeded my expectations. It’s an older property, but the trade show area, the hallways and meeting rooms were bright. The staff was very helpful and I certainly was impressed by the mix of the plumbing and HVAC contractors who attended. I thought it was a good mix from both trades.
David Heimer: So, Service World Expo promised an innovative trade show, new stuff. You guys both mentioned that it was innovative. What impressed you guys as being innovative about this event?
Bob Miodonski: Well you know we did talk about the trade show layout, which encouraged better interaction between the vendors, the exhibitors and the contractors. And to be honest with you David and Mike, there were so many people at the trade show floor I was later in the show before I really noticed how different the layout of the show floor was from traditional shows. And it’s certainly easier to see the layout when the aisles at those shows are empty than, what I saw at the Service World. And again, getting back to Mike’s point about content, I was impressed with the mix of the speakers between some of the familiar faces we’ve seen on the trade show circuit, but also some new faces as well. And I think it’s important to offer contractors a strong educational program that offers value to them. And as I said, it was good to see some familiar faces along with the new ones among the speaker’s roster.
Mike Murphy: My feeling on the layout and innovation that was obvious within the trade show is I’ll just kind of give you an anecdotal story here. I made a point of, as soon as I walked in when the doors opened to the trade show I made a point to get around all the, as I started to say the aisles, but they really weren’t aisles. I made a point to kind of get from the front to the back as quickly as I could talk to a few different people and say, ‘Hey, well, what do you think of this?’ And pretty much the response I got was like, well, this is different, or this is weird and so it was kind of an interesting comment. And then later in the afternoon, and the next day I was going through the trade show again, I asked the same thing like, “Well, what do you think about this?” And people were saying, “You know, I really liked it.”
So, I think people initially didn’t even know what to expect when they walked in the door and the fact that it wasn’t a traditional aisle layout, which can sometimes be a little bit difficult for people to engage each other in. And conversely, it was set up in almost kind of like just a big open tailgate party. In fact, I heard one of the other people mention it exactly and say “Hey this is kind of like being inside of a tailgate party.” He just kind of wandered around and talked to people and it was very engaging and lively compared to very many other trade shows that we’ve all attended in the past. So it was interesting to see that initially, people weren’t quite sure what they had walked into and then all of a sudden they realized as they were becoming engaged, talking to people that they were in a very different and innovative trade show format. So, I think it worked fantastic and I’m looking forward to doing that again.
David Heimer: So, were either of you guys aware of the demo lab that was there?
Bob Miodonski: I was aware of it David, but to be honest with you, I did not attend one of the demo labs. I did attend, as I said before, a number of the educational workshops. But I did not partake in the demo and the demo labs.
Mike Murphy: I did get into one of the demo labs. There were several going on at different times. It was great because they were set off a little separate. It wasn’t really loud and noisy on the showroom floor; it was easy to hear what was going on. But anyway, I actually sat in on the one that was sponsored by Goodman and it was an interesting discussion going on in there. I kind of got in about halfway through, but everyone was having a discussion about things that were going on in the manufacturing field. And yes, I wouldn’t reveal all of that on the phone call right now because it was some proprietary information. There was some good discussion and open dialogue going on between the contractor’s, manufacturers and some distributors that were in the room. So, it was a very interesting format with those demo labs set up I think.
David Heimer: Yes, I thought that was a good idea because sometimes when a new product is launched, you launching it at a trade show is a little bit risky because while there are some advantages of, you know, there’s a lot of people there that are very interested in whatever the new product or service is. It’s a little risky because competitors are there and so if there’s a way to get off into a separate room where you can do it, it’s a great way to launch the product and you’re able to have a candid conversation. So, I thought that was a great innovation. I think it’s something that hopefully Service World Expo will do more of in the future.
Mike Murphy: I was kind of surprised the one that I did get to attend was well attended and that isn’t always the case in those types of settings that are on or near a trade show floor very often. It’s like you get just a handful of people. This meeting was pretty well attended and I hope that all the demo labs were, but certainly the one that I attended that was put on by Goodman was very well attended and I guess I was a little surprised. It was like, you know, there is always that hesitation that, hey, it posts a few people off the showroom floor at any given point during the day. But none of the people that were near that area seemed to be too upset. In fact, I guess they liked the fact that it was called traffic by their booth on the way to the demo lab. So, that may have worked out in everyone’s favor.
David Heimer: Yes. Good point. So what about the speakers? Any standouts for you guys?
Bob Miodonski: Well, I may be biased, but then I thought we did have some plumbing and mechanical contributing writers. Al Levy, Adams Hudson, Kenny Chapman were all speakers at the Service World Expo and I think they all did a great job. Some others that I thought were outstanding were just Tab Hunter, Jeff Havens and Derek Daley, just to mention a few. But I thought the speakers were overall uniformly, just did a great job of giving value to the attendees.
Mike Murphy: Bob mentioned all the high spots right there. There was another one that I enjoyed in particular, actually Matt Michelle and Ron Smith kind of put on a little ad hoc panel discussion of their own at one point in time. They did a very nice review of a little bit of the historical content, the present and in the future, as far as trends go and I thought it was pretty enlightening. They had a full house and it’s good to see that type of information being exchanged between two stalwarts of the industry like Matt and Ron. So, I enjoyed that one a lot as well.
David Heimer: Yes, both those guys are always interesting to listen to and they do great presentations full of historical knowledge and views about the future as well, so, great people to listen to. I liked Derek Daley’s presentation a lot. The thing that was odd to me is I’m just not a racing fan. I’m sure it’s a great sport. I’ve just never followed it at all and yet this guy did an amazing presentation. By the end of it he related it so well to business, but also I started getting interested in racing as well, which I find amazing. So, to wrap up, a great event, especially for the inaugural event, any predictions for next year.
Mike Murphy: Well, I think I may have mentioned a little bit earlier that I would expect in this year number two to certainly be a little bigger, a little better, that’s not uncommon, especially after such a good first year out of the gate. So, as far as numbers or how many people might be there, I mean, gee whiz, if we had another 700 plus people, I would count that as a success. But frankly, we’ll probably go much more than that. The word will get out, other contractors will tell their friends and tell their competitors even because they want them to be there. And then of course, as I recall, there were a lot of the exhibitors that were already beginning to resign up there in Vegas this past year. So, it looks like it’s definitely going to be a thing of the future. It’s a good format, a lot of good people there and I would expect that, we’ve got a long run ahead of us where we’re going to have a very strong format and a good program for contractors to avail themselves out, to get information about how to make themselves better in this business. So, I’m looking forward to what I think is going to be a great Service World Expo event at Mandalay Bay.
Bob Miodonski: Yes. I would agree with Mike pretty much down the line, I predict there will be a high return rate from this year’s attendees, along with a good uptick in attendance, just based on the positive buzz that’s gone on about this year’s event. The Mandalay Bay does represent a definite upgrade as a venue. I’ve been to a number of events at that convention center. I think you’re going to have some more room to deal with on the trade show floor so I think that will be enhanced. And overall, I just am looking forward to a bigger and better event in 2017.
David Heimer: Fantastic. Well, Bob Miodonski and Mike Murphy, thank you so much for doing this with us it’s been a pleasure. Always enjoy reading the stuff that you guys write in your publications and appreciate everything that you guys do for us.
Bob Miodonski: Well, thanks, David, appreciate your comments.
Mike Murphy: Hey, you bet. Look forward to seeing everyone at the Service World Expo.
David Heimer: Alright.
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