RIA Sees Successful Return to In-Person Event, Celebrates 75 Years

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Orlando, Fla.—June 30, 2021—The 2021 International Restoration Convention + Industry Expo finished its June 28-30 run at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center in Kissimmee, Florida. The sold out show, which featured restoration industry networking, exhibit hall floor, and educational sessions, was created under a theme of solidarity: “The Industry Stands United.”

The three days of the 2021 International Restoration Convention + Industry Expo was an extra special event as it marked both the 75th anniversary of the organization and the first RIA show amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The event featured many points recognizing important industry leaders who helped make RIA the strong industry representative it is today.

See image highlights in this video and read a recap of the 2021 International Restoration Convention + Industry Expo below:

Many presenters talked specifically about the progress the organization and its Advocacy and Government Affairs group has made since RIA’s announcement of the AGA at the 2018 show. Mark Springer, RIA president, said, “The theme of this year’s convention, ‘The Industry Stands United, celebrates the incredible progress that has been made as a result of our solidarity, to work together with a common goal, to advocate on behalf of restoration companies.”

The show offered a unique design, placing all educational events in the same room so that attendees did not have to choose between sessions. Breakfast and lunch was served in the expo hall to allow attendees to peruse booths and talk with exhibitors while relaxing with refreshments.

Events kicked off Monday evening with a first-time attendee and new member reception followed by the general welcome reception where attendees chatted with exhibitors, caught up with old friends and colleagues, and made new contacts all while exploring the show’s exhibitor offerings. The Contractor’s Choice Awards were presented during the reception, and new designated restorers recognized during the pinning ceremony.

On Tuesday, Springer, along with RIA CEO Kristy Cohen, RIA President Elect and AGA Chairwoman Katie Smith, and others, made opening remarks and held a town hall in which they discussed the RIA and the industry at large: what they are going through, the pandemic’s effect, and where they are headed.

Springer discussed the troubles when the pandemic first hit. The association was on track for a $300,000 shortfall in 2020. He said he remembered thinking, “The association has made it 74 years, and now it’s going to die on our watch,” but the association’s committees came together and made big things happened.

The efforts of RIA instructors specifically were recognized for their work making training available online and on demand during the pandemic, and especially for volunteering not to receive compensation for their teaching. “They just wanted to help RIA succeed,” Springer explained.

Springer, speaking of the AGA’s work to get fair pricing for restorers, said he had been really impressed with Xactimate. He explained he had been worried about working with the company, but “have really worked with us on pricing” and are working on a program that will offer real-time pricing help for restorers.

Smith gave an in-depth look at the AGA’s work, reporting the group has now put out 10 position papers. She encouraged restoration companies to use these papers as peer-reviewed statements to support their positions in pricing conflicts with adjusters and insurance companies.

Representatives from the IICRC discussed the success of its partnership with RIA, which was first announced at the 2018 RIA Show. IICRC President and CEO Mike Dakduk. Recognized RIA’s advocacy efforts, saying that most organizations are reactive and simply wait for a problem to arise and then address it, but RIA has been doing really well to be proactive, adding he looked forward to their continued relationship.

ANSI/IICRC Standards Chair Brandon Burton, who was not at the show, sent in a video message in which he praised the partnership as well. “I have had a front-row seat to a partnership that had only been discussed in the bast but is now a reality,” he said.

Tuesday evening saw the Diamond Anniversary Disaster Celebration, which featured drinks, dinner and networking centered around the leading accomplishments in the industry. Winners of the Patricia L. Harman Golden Quill Award, Phoenix Award, Women in Restoration Award, and the Martin L. King Award were all presented.

Other highlights from the event included:

  • “How I Built My Business” in which industry titans Warner Cruz, Jeff Moore, and Gary Moore discussed how each of these CEOs created unique, successful restoration businesses and large enterprises. Cruz shared some of the perks he offers his employees to help limit turnover, which included things like mountain bikes to check out, free CAT services first, and a weekly in-office masseuse.
  • “Restoration Industry’s Response to Major Events” in which Rusty Amarante discussed his company’s response to Hurricane Katrina and Damon Gersh discussed his company’s response to 9/11. Each shared the stories of their hands-on experiences managing a team in such catastrophic events.
  • Verne Harnish’s keynote address, “Scaling Up: 4 Key Decisions,” which offered tools for navigating the tough decisions that arise when trying to grow a company.  He offered five design principles for creating a company with fewer staffing issues:
    • Be different
    • Fairness, not sameness
    • Easy on the carrots
    • Gamify games
    • Sharing is caring

Harnish said, if a company doesn’t have one of the first three, then the most important point for employees will be their compensation.

The 2021 International Restoration Convention + Industry Expo ended June 30.

Cleanfax Staff

Cleanfax provides cleaning and restoration professionals with information designed to help them manage and grow their businesses.

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