NECA TransmissionsNotes from the front lines of the electrical contracting industry

Random Thoughts and Impressions from the NECA Convention in Seattle

Posted on Sep 18, 2009 by John M Grau

The General Session speakers were perfect for the times. Howard Behar, former Starbucks president, talked about the importance of people to our businesses and how investment in people pays off in the long run. Erik Weihenmayer, the blind mountain climber, showed us how adversity really doesn’t have to be a permanent defeat but can be an advantage. With many NECA members are struggling through this economic downturn, the messages couldn’t be more pertinent or uplifting.

Speaking of optimism, I was encouraged by how many NECA members are positive about the future. Most expect a tough year in 2010 but then look for a release of pent-up construction demand after that. 

Anyone who lived in the Seattle area told us how unusually nice the weather was. I’ve been to Seattle maybe a dozen times in my life. Only one time have I experienced rain there. Do you think they tell those tales of perpetual clouds and drizzle because they don’t want us to catch on what a great area it is to live in? A little selfish, if you ask me.

I heard a number of comments about how the Trade Show looked bigger and better. It was actually a bit smaller than last year, but it did feature a great variety of vendors — and NECA members kept them busy on all three days of the show.

Many of the workshops and seminars were packed. While there’s a big social aspect to a convention, this shows that the real reason to be there is education.

A truly random thought: Why are so many people interested in paying to ride to the top of the Space Needle? I assume when it was built in the 1960s it was the tallest structure in town. Now, there are a number of buildings from which you can get a great view. For example, the sights from the top of the Columbia Tower are spectacular. And you look down on the Space Needle!

BTW: No need to comment to me about the Opening Reception. I know. If you’ve been to other NECA Conventions, you know that isn’t our norm. We’ll fix it.

But, all in all, it was a great week.


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NECA Transmissions is a collaborative effort from CEO John Grau and NECA staff to provide insight and feedback on key issues from the front lines of the electrical contracting industry.


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