From its inception as a virtual conference in 2021, the Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing (MEP) Innovation Conference continues to grow in popularity. Just wrapping up the third powerful gathering, members from the Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA), the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), and the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA) have seen the value and interest of this joint event grow year after year.
Innovators from all three major trade associations gathered in Austin, Texas from January 11–13 to host a new, more evolved MEP experience for registrants with the addition of new speakers and expanded sessions. After coming together the last two years to learn more about each other’s industries, collaboration opportunities, as well as new technologies and project trends, conference organizers had a better understanding of what to expect.
As the chair of MCAA’s Technology Committee and Director of Technology at Andy J. Egan Co., Chris Weaver said, “The reason I like the conference so much is because so many new friendships are made. You meet so many new, cool people who are all pulling in the same direction to drive innovation within our industry, to really push the limits of what can be done whether it’s in a fab shop, whether it’s with technology, within your own company.”
In 2022 this event brought together 450 attendees from several skilled-labor trades to better understand different viewpoints, roles and responsibilities. However, this 2023 conference saw that number grow to more than 620 people in attendance. The number of exhibitors who value being represented at the MEP Innovation Conference nearly doubled since last year, jumping from 20 to 38 exhibitors.
“It seems like each year I’m networking with a different group of folks. I see faces that I’ve seen for the last three years but I’m seeing new faces come to the conference,” said Adam Davis, Miller Electric VDC Project Manager. “As we expand what MEP means and general contractors and investment firms are starting to attend our conference to engage with MEP folks, I’m getting to network with them as well. So that’s been fun to expand outside of our electrical focus, then go to MEP focus and now we’re looking at industry focus with some of our networking opportunities.”
A driving force behind the MEP Innovation Conference, Tauhira Ali is the Executive Director of Industry Innovation at NECA. When reflecting on this year’s conference she said, “Being able to work with and deliver content that supports a variety of specialty contractors, I’ve learned so much. I’m sure these joint conferences will continue to open many collaborative doors for people across the industry.”
The networking aspect of the MEP Innovation Conference is one of the top benefits of attending the event, according to NECA’s Innovation and Strategy Task Force Chairman Todd Grossweiler. “Getting the chance to go through and talk with the people selling their goods is beneficial,” said Grossweiler who is also the Executive Vice President of Allison-Smith Company. “But then taking that away and continuing to talk about what you’ve seen in the exhibit hall with your peers during the conference really gives you better feedback when you come back to your companies to see if something might be the right direction to head for you,” continued Grossweiler. Throughout his time at the MEP conference, Grossweiler witnessed industry peers engage in collaborative discussion and debate opinions on technology and business management.
This year’s conference was bigger and better than years past, with more in-depth dialogue and educational sessions to bridge the gap between trades. Several more pre-conference sessions were added as well as workshops. Excitingly, for the first time, pre-conference tours of local contracting companies, training centers and innovation centers were included in the MEP Innovation Conference experience as well. Witness the comradery and excitement from this year’s 2023 MEP Innovation Conference through this recap video.
For questions about the MEP Innovation Conference or how to get involved, email [email protected]