October 5, 2022 at 8:00 p.m.

Editor’s note: The following is the transcript of a live interview with Judy Gellar of METALCON. You can read the interview below or listen to the podcast. 

Speaker 1:
Welcome to Roofing Road Trips with Heidi. Explore the roofing industry through the eyes of a long-term professional within the trade. Listen for insights, interviews, and exciting news in the roofing industry today.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Hello, and welcome to another Roofing Road Trips from RoofersCoffeeShop. My name is Heidi Ellsworth, and I’m road-tripping cross-country to visit a lady who is pretty spectacular in doing something for the metal industry that is just a huge benefit for the metal professionals out there. I am meeting today with Judy Geller from Metalcon. Judy, welcome to the show.

Judy Geller:
Hi, Heidi. It’s good to be here. Thanks for having me.

Heidi Ellsworth:
It’s good to have you. There’s probably some folks out there who are like, “Hmm. Metalcon?” Because not everybody in roofing, I think, has heard of it. So, I really want to talk about the history, the rich history, what an amazing show this is. But before we jump into that, why don’t you go ahead and introduce yourself, and talk a little bit about Metalcon.

Judy Geller:
Sure, I’d be happy to. I love to talk about Metalcon. So, I came on board as the director for Metalcon in 2019. I was at the show, that year was in Pittsburgh, and it was just amazing. I was so impressed by the energy, and the comradery, and the networking, and everything that was going on at Metalcon. And I was very excited to produce my first one after my predecessor retired in 2020. Well, we all know how that went, but in any case, I have been producing trade shows and conferences in the B2B space for many, many years. Metalcon is my first step into the construction industry. And I have to tell you it’s been really exciting, and really fun to engage with this community, and learn about this really cool industry.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah, yeah. You know what? My first Metalcon was probably just a couple years before you, but I am always amazed at the people. The breadth of people who come to that show, I mean, from architects to contractors, to engineers, manufacturers, distributors, in all in the metal frame. Metal roofing, metal walls, gutters, sheet metal forming, sheet metal buildings, insulated panels. It’s amazing.

Judy Geller:
Yeah, it is amazing. And it is vast. And it’s funny because Metalcon really is all things on metal as it’s related to metal and construction design. So, it spans this giant breadth of what that is, and you just named so many categories. But one of the things that we did this year was we went through this exercise on our website, in the exhibitor categories. We updated all the categories and all the subcategories, and it is unbelievable. If you had anything to do with metal, and construction, and design, whether it’s walls, or panels, or architecture, or sustainability, accessories. There is a road to Metalcon for you.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. Yeah. It’s so great. So, Judy, how old is Metalcon? How long has it been around? What’s some of its history?

Judy Geller:
Yeah. So, Metalcon is now going into its 32nd year. It’s been around for a long time and it was developed by Frank Stasiowski, who is my CEO at PSMJ Resources in partnership with the Metal Construction Association. They just identified a gap that there was really no event where buyers and sellers of metal for construction design could come together. And meet, and develop relationships, and do all of these important things that need to take place in the metal construction industry. So, it’s been around for a very, very long time. Claire Kilcoyne branded so beautifully from the start. You know Claire?

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yes.

Judy Geller:
Well, she ran it through the 2019 event. And then with remarkable timing, she decided to retire and I picked it up from there. So, it’s been around for a very, very long time.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. It is. It’s such a great show. Talk about meeting your goals and objectives. That’s where everybody comes together to do business and to really build those relationships.

Judy Geller:
Yeah.

Heidi Ellsworth:
So let’s talk… Oh, go ahead.

Judy Geller:
I’m going to say what’s really remarkable about it is, when it was launched 32 years ago, it was launched as the only event dedicated to the application of metal in construction and design, and it still is the over dedicated event. I think the thing that’s really changed and evolved over the years is the show has grown. There’s a big international focus on it. It’s a niche event, but it’s an important niche, and it does really well in that universe.

Heidi Ellsworth:
It does. It does. It’s such a great show. So let’s talk about it. So, 2022, where’s it going to be? And when is it?

Judy Geller:
So, it’s going to be in Indianapolis, which is the first time going to Indiana in its history.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Oh, awesome.

Judy Geller:
And you know people love to go to Las Vegas, and we’ll be there next year. I know people love to go to Tampa and all these other places, but it was really important for the industry that we get ourselves more towards the center of the country. And there’s a lot of manufacturing. There’s a lot happening in the Midwest as you know, and Indianapolis just it’s a really vibrant city, and a great location, and the response is great. So, we’re in Indianapolis, October 12th through the 14th this year.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah, and we’re going to be there, MetalCoffeeShop, which as many of we just launched in June. Metalcon is… Weird have been doing so much together on MetalCoffeeShop, and MetalCoffeeShop’s going to have a sound stage there, so I’m super excited. But there’s going to be a lot of other things happening. So just, I’d love for you to start sharing all the different things that are going on, because I know there’s so much that you’ve put together.

Judy Geller:
There is so much going on, or I could go on all day and I’m still worried that I’m going to miss something. But at this time, we have over 200 exhibitors. And this year we have introduced a couple new things to the exhibit hall. We have the Metal Building Marketplace which is a first-time pavilion where manufacturers of metal building systems and products can really show off all the amazing things you can do with these metal building systems.

Judy Geller:
I think architects who are attending and contractors are going to be blown away by the evolution of what’s going on in metal buildings. We’ve also brought back something from last year that was a big hit, which is the IMP Pavilion. So, that’s produced by the IMP Alliance led by Jeff Irwin. And Jeff has managed last year, and again, this year, to bring together the six of the biggest vendors in the IMP space. And it’s unusual in the sense that attendees to this show can meet them all. They’re all right there in one space, you can compare, you can contrast. And it’s not typical for all of these vendors to be together, but they’re all part of the Alliance, and that is really fantastic. And this year, they’ve added to the pavilion, Education Center where they’re going to be addressing a lot of the challenges that contractors, installers might have when they’re dealing with these metal panels. So, that’s new for this year.

Heidi Ellsworth:
I thought that was so great last year. I just thought it was excellent. So I’m excited for it, to see it again.

Judy Geller:
Yep. It’s fantastic. We also launched last year, what we call the Architect’s Experience. We know architects love to go to AIA, and all these other really great shows, but there’s nothing like Metalcon for them. We know that they are designing and building with metal, and they want to do more. And obviously why, because metal is beautiful. It’s very sustainable. It’s recyclable. It’s checks all of these really important boxes. So, what we’ve done is we’ve created a little show within the show for them. We take them on an exhibit hall floor tour where they’re going to meet with some of the key exhibitors who want to share some specifics of what they have to offer architects. And we’ve got a lot of dedicated education for architects, and specifiers, and engineers will all benefited as well. We’ve recognized that their educational needs are very different than those of contractors and installers. So, we really want to help them understand and utilize metal effectively.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. That is great. That’s so cool. And I know this was something that started right before you started, but then you’ve just really taken it to its next level, and this is the total experience. And that total experience is so unique, I haven’t seen it in other shows. Maybe talk a little bit about that.

Judy Geller:
Yeah. Well, in the world of trade shows and conferences there’s always this… That you’ve got to find this balance, where if you take attendees off the exhibit hall, out of the exhibit hall, and put them in meeting rooms, you’re taking them away from the vibrancy, and the vendors, and the exhibitors on the show floor, and all of these pavilions that we have going on this year. So, I want to say back around 2018, they changed the structure brilliantly. And what they did is, they put all the education, which is free by the way, it’s all part of the total experience registration package that you mentioned. It’s in the exhibit hall. We built learning centers right on the exhibit hall, and we’ve chunked them down into a technical know-how learning center. There’s a best practices learning center, there’s the architect’s learning center which I mentioned before, then we have our main theater where our keynotes are going.

Judy Geller:
And the beauty is, is that you’re immersed in it with the vendors. You don’t have to leave the exhibit hall to go to meeting rooms, and run back and forth, and check your watch. You’re like, I’m going to talk with this vendor, and then I’m going to go duck in on a session and rest my feet, and then I’m going to get back at it. So, it really is a total experience. We do offer some in-depth workshops that require a separate registration, that take place in meeting rooms because they’re intensive. But they start before the show floor opens. They start early in the morning before the show floor opens. So, with those exceptions, all the education is in the exhibit hall right where everything is happening. It’s not like [inaudible 00:13:02] Oktoberfest.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah, really not Oktoberfest. The Oktoberfest is one of my favorite parts, it moves around the show floor.

Judy Geller:
So, all right. Oktoberfest definitely predates me. And I think that if anything happened to Oktoberfest, I would really hear a lot about it. Oktoberfest, it’s like opportunities for vendors to offer beer in their booths. There’s a bartender and there’s kegs. And it just makes it really fun. So, we probably have about a dozen participating Oktoberfest vendors. And as you visit their booths, you can have a beer while you’re learning about new products, and seeing demos, and things like that. They are spread out, all the Oktoberfest are an hour in various booths, so you move through them rather than spend eight hours at them. But it does happen on both Wednesday afternoon and Thursday afternoon. And this year, just picking up that fun theme we know Metalcon attendees love. We’ve also added pit stops. Some vendors also offering craft beer, and there’s some snacks involved in that.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Nice.

Judy Geller:
Some of them have sandwiches and stuff. So, it’s always fun to be on the floor at Metalcon.

Heidi Ellsworth:
It is, and it’s vibrant. Like you said, I love that you used that word earlier is vibrant. People are looking and they’re watching, walking around the show floor. Where’s Oktoberfest now or where’s the pit stop? I love that. But that’s not just it. Obviously, they’re going to all the educational series. They’re talking to all the people on the show floor. So much business gets done. And one of the things you and I have talked about a lot, and I’m going to say, I am honored to be on the Metalcon advisory board. Thank you so much for-

Judy Geller:
[inaudible 00:15:03] part of it.

Heidi Ellsworth:
… letting me be a part of that. It’s so fun. But you wanted to really focus on more networking, the ability for people to network. And so, you have a couple of different events around networking that’s pretty exciting. Karen and I, Karen Edwards who’s also at the RoofersCoffeeShop and MetalCoffeeShop. We’re really excited to be with LeeAnn Slattery and Arty Molinari for the networking. How to network? How to make the most of a trade show? How to network, and we’re bringing a lot of different people together for that class.

Judy Geller:
Yeah. So, you really brought up something that’s really important. And what we really try to do with Metalcon is look at who our audiences and meet their needs. And people think they know how to network, and they sort of do, but there is an art to it. There really is. And when you only got metal and you’ve got, essentially, two and a half days, and a lot you want to cover, and you’re in the room or I should say the exhibit hall with other attendees and exhibitors who are from all over the country, and all over the world. The international starting to come back after COVID, but you really want to know how to maximize the opportunities to connect with people that you can be opening up relationships right then and there, that are going to last throughout your career, whether it’s vendors, or colleagues, or whatever. And don’t forget you wrote a book on it.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Oh, yeah. I did.

Judy Geller:
So, [inaudible 00:16:50] is, our networking is going to get a copy of the book that you wrote with Karen, which is just brilliant, it’s just fantastic.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Well, and it’s a workbook, which we are so excited about. So, you have those workbooks where people can actually start making notes, and doing planning, and setting goals on who they want to meet at the show or who they want to work with. And I think that makes a big difference. And I love the fact that we’re going to bring in some more of those lovely beverages and snacks, and have people actually do networking at the thing. But the other one that I love that you’re doing is future professionals and really inviting that next generation.

Judy Geller:
Yeah. So, I can’t emphasize enough how important this is. I think that everybody in the industry, in construction in general, is very aware that the industry is aging. And we have to not only encourage young professionals to come into the industry, but we have to mentor them and show them the way. And there’s also some generational things that happen where the current generation is like, “Well, they don’t listen to us. And the young generation as well.” “They not good at social media,” and all this stuff. So, Future Leaders is really meant to support the up-and-comers and rising stars in the industry. So, if you are in a company, a manager, an owner, whatever you are, and you have those younger rising stars, you need to bring them to Metalcon this year. We have Dr. Melissa Furman who is just amazing. She’s an amazing speaker.

Judy Geller:
She’s doing a keynote on Wednesday morning, but then she’s doing a special program for Future Leaders at… I want to say on Wednesday afternoon, and that is going to be followed by happy hour. You can’t talk networking, and future, and young professionals without making it a big thing. And it’s going to be really, really fun. One thing that I will say is, when we’re talking about Future Leaders, we don’t put an age on it. We think 40 and under, but rising stars. They could be in their 20s, 30s, 40s, maybe even a little older. And we do invite the managers to come as well. Listen in. Here are the conversation, here are the lessons are. We want to open up the dialogue on both ends. And Metalcon is only the beginning of what we’re going to be doing with Future Leaders. The Metal Construction Association is going to be working with us in the future. And this is a thing, you can see more programs coming out as a result of us partnering with the MCA.

Heidi Ellsworth:
I love it. I love it. I know you’re also going to have a national women and Roofing are going to be there. You have so many different groups. You’re so inclusive and I’m loving that.

Judy Geller:
We work with a lot of associations, and we hope to work with more in the future, but you’ll see the MBMA will be there. The MBCEA will be there. FMA will be there. I could go on, and on, and on. But honestly, the best place to see all of the partners and associations we’re working with is either on our website, or we just sent out this… I don’t know if you can see it. Yeah, I can’t show it. We can sent out the sneak peek.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Oh, great. Okay.

Judy Geller:
That’s no problem. We just emailed it out. And if anybody would like a copy of it, they can just email me. [inaudible 00:21:01].

Heidi Ellsworth:
Well, we’ll make sure that it’s on MetalCoffeeShop and on RoofersCoffeeShop too so people can find it really easily. And I wanted to just talk real quick, because I mean, we have a lot of contractors who are listening to this podcast and who are thinking, “Well, why should I go to Metalcon?” And I would just really, from a contractor’s view, all of the things that are there, that are going to help their business. If you are in metal, you have to be there. If you’re thinking about getting in metal, this is the way, this is the path to get there. And so, when I think about the show floor, and I think about those big metal forming machinery that’s out there is so cool.

Judy Geller:
Amazing, amazing.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. And all the big metal manufacturers are there. And solar, it’s so much in solar and technology. So, I know I’m going on and on, but what are some of the things, Judy, that you would say are really just… They can’t miss as a contractor who is either doing metal or wants to do metal?

Judy Geller:
Yeah. I think that you can’t really underestimate the power of face to face. What you’re going to get by attending the show. You’re not going to get on Zoom, and you’re not going to get it just hanging out in the office, or even on site, or whatever. It’s going to expose you to everything that’s going on in metal. So, you’re going to see innovations. You’re going to see new products and we have a whole award built around top new products in innovations.

Judy Geller:
You’re going to have a chance to talk to experts. So, you want to bring your questions, bring your pain points. What are the burning things you want to know? You’ve got over 200 exhibitors who are going to be there, and the big guns of the industry. And it’s an opportunity to connect with a level of expertise you’re not going to find anywhere else. And to your point about if you want to get into metal, and this being the road to get there. This is a really big deal, because this is where you connect with the vendors potentially, who can be your partners going forward as you launch a new piece of your business. It’s a business growth opportunity.

Heidi Ellsworth:
It really is. And NRCA is going to be there with ProCertification. So, contractors will actually be getting certified in metal at the show, which is huge. And then there’s a number of training groups out there. I know one who works with us, John Sheridan is planning on being there with Sheridan Consulting. He does tons of training across the country. A number of our influencers are going to be there, who are all there. So, yeah, there’s whatever you need, new products, manufacturers, training, certification, you want to buy a big honk and cool machine. They’re there. They are there. It’s cool.

Judy Geller:
Yeah. Heidi, just to reiterate the point you talked about, some of the speakers that are going to be there. The education that we’ll be offering, I’m going to emphasize it again, free, in the exhibit hall is really incredible. Take a look at it. And we have so many amazing speakers. I hate even to use the word speakers, they’re going to be experts who are presenting the education in the sessions, and you’re not going to be able to have this immersive experience like you would have at Metalcon.

Heidi Ellsworth:
It’s really true. So, I kind of been leading this up to the big finale, but maybe tell us who is the keynote speaker? What are some of the top speakers that people should be aware of?

Judy Geller:
Yeah. So, we typically have two keynotes, but we actually added a third one, laid in the process this year. And there’s a good reason for it. But in any case, let me tell you, so you cannot go to Indianapolis without having some fun around the racing theme. So, we do have Indy 500 race car driver and race winner, Josef Newgarden who’s going to be doing a keynote. And he’s going to be bringing along some great video. He’s very charismatic. He’ll stick around for autographs afterwards. But his message is really going to be very interesting and it has to do a lot with teamwork. You’re going to hear him talk about it. I’m the driver, but I can’t do it without the pit crew. So, he’s going to be fantastic. He’s speaking on Thursday, I mentioned Dr. Melissa Furman earlier, Melissa has talked at meetings at the Metal Construction Association meetings. And she talks on a lot of generational things that are going on, but she is so compelling. I heard her speak at an MCA meeting and I was like, we have to have her at Metalcon.

Judy Geller:
And she is just very relatable, and has so much information to share. She’ll rock you off your seats. And then, what happened was, we had an opportunity to bring in somebody for the Architect Experience. And once we brought him in, I’m going to tell you who he is in a minute, but we realized, “Okay, we have to open this up to everybody.” His message is going to be important to everyone, not just the architects. And his name is Dr. Joseph Lstiburek, and he is one of the founders of the Building Science institute.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Wow.

Judy Geller:
You might hear him refer to as Dr. Joe, or the doctor of walls, or things like that. And he’s not an architect. He is an engineer. He’s got so many acronyms after his name and it’s like alphabet soup. He is an incredibly dynamic speaker. And we know that even though we scheduled him at 8:30 in the morning before the show floor opens on Wednesday, whether you’re a contractor, an architect, a specifier, an installer, you are going to want to hear him. And you can learn more about Dr. Joe on our website.

Heidi Ellsworth:
That’s great. Wow. What a great lineup. I’m so excited for this show, Judy.

Judy Geller:
Yeah, a little bit of everything.

Heidi Ellsworth:
It’s going to be awesome. Yeah, it’s going to be awesome. Okay. How can people, contractors, architects, anyone who’s listening to this, how can they go sign up?

Judy Geller:
So easy, metalcon.com. It’s really-

Heidi Ellsworth:
Wow, easy.

Judy Geller:
Just go to metalcon.com, and you can read all about the show. You can read more about the keynotes. You can look at the education sessions. You can set yourself up a schedule. You could absolutely look at all the exhibitors who are going to be there. Make a plan because there’s a lot to cover. So, you can register on the website. You can ask to be on our mailing list, we do newsletters. We have a blog. We do emails all the time. We’re on social media. But really, it all comes back to metalcon.com. If you’re new, that’s the best place to start. And if you have questions, you can either email me, judy@metalcon.com or you can go to info@metalcon.com. And I have an amazing team that I work with. It definitely takes a village to produce this little event and we can certainly help you out. I will say hotel rooms are going, book your hotels.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Book your hotel. Book your hotel, register. We still have our VIP contest going on at MetalCoffeeShop where you can get a free pass. So, get in there. We’ve already given some out and we’ve got people lined up going. So, very excited about that. Yes.

Judy Geller:
Early bird is still in effect. So, you can-

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah, nice.

Judy Geller:
… save a few bucks when you register before September 2nd. Early bird pricing is in effect. You can register on-site at the show if you want, but just to give everybody who’s listening that little tap.

Heidi Ellsworth:
That would be perfect. That’s great. And of course, you can find all this information on RoofersCoffeeShop and MetalCoffeeShop to get to metalcon.com, but it’s pretty easy just to get to metalcon.com. So, get there and register. Judy, tank you so much. This has been great information, super excited, super excited for all the people who are listening to this so that we can see you at Metalcon. We will be having live coffee conversations. We’re going to be having interviews. You can watch all of it. For some reason you can’t make it, you can also watch it on our YouTube, but you got to be there. That’s what it’s all about.

Judy Geller:
You got to be there. And if you want a sneak peek, Heidi, we’ll send you the link so that anybody who wants to take a deeper look can look at this.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yes.

Judy Geller:
Deeper look on the website, but we’re excited.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah.

Judy Geller:
Yeah.

Heidi Ellsworth:
It’s there. It’s there in all the different places. So, Judy, again, thank you for spending some time with me on this road trip.

Judy Geller:
Yeah. Thank you so much for having me. It’s my pleasure.

Heidi Ellsworth:
It’s been great. And thank all of you for listening. We love having you here. We want to share all these opportunities to grow your business, help your employees, be a part of the industry. You can find all of our podcasts under the read, listen, watch section of our navigation on RoofersCoffeeShop or on your favorite podcast channel. Be sure to go out there, look for RoofersCoffeeShop, subscribe and get notifications so you don’t miss a single episode. And so, we’ll be seeing you next time on the next Roofing Road Trip. Have a great day.

Speaker 1:
Make sure to subscribe to our channel and leave a review. Thanks for listening. This has been Roofing Road Trips with Heidi, from the rooferscoffeeshop.com.





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