As editor of Construction & Demolition Recycling and Waste Today magazines, the spring convention season is always a busy one as industry organizations jockey to pack the calendar full of events before summer gives way to increased work demands and family vacations.

For this year’s expo circuit, I attended the Construction & Demolition Recycling Association’s (CDRA’s) C&D World in Brooklyn March 9-12 and the National Demolition Association’s (NDA’s) Demolition Rockies event in Aurora, Colorado, March 22-25.

While both conventions were filled with insightful education sessions and fun extracurriculars, it’s the power of bringing like-minded industry professionals together that stands out to me as the real value of these events.

These opportunities not only allow professionals to check out the newest equipment and services on the market, but also serve as a meeting place where ideas are born, business best practices are shared and contacts are made that set the groundwork for future opportunities.

They’re also a platform for the associations to keep a finger on the pulse of their members and learn what’s important for the boots-on-the-ground professionals in the field every day.

At this year’s C&D World, CDRA Executive Director Bill Turley took some time during a lunch session to gauge the biggest concerns attendees had related to their businesses.

According to Turley, the discussion is helping inform the association about what to focus on in the year ahead.

“We always encourage feedback from our members, and with this exercise, we were reminded of the importance of end markets and the effect government regulations and legislation have on the recycling industry,” Turley says. “These are two areas the CDRA is always working on. Great examples include the C&D fines research documents and the gypsum recycling protocol we’ve developed, as well as our work responding to OSHA’s [U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration] Employee Silica Exposure rule and EPA’s [U.S. Environmental Protection Agency] Non-Hazardous Secondary Materials rule. Along those lines, attendees had specific actions and suggestions we will be working on in the future.”

Likewise, NDA Executive Director Jeff Lambert says the feedback from this year’s show is helping inform the association on how to best cater to its attendees at next year’s event in Austin.

“We plan to offer more sessions like the ‘Utility Plant Decommissioning and Demolition Panel Discussion’ and ‘Doing Business with the United States Army Corps of Engineers,’” Lambert says. “The sessions were well-received and an example of how NDA membership allows members opportunities to learn how to prequalify for work. We also plan to expand our Live Demolition event to offer on-site training, which will, in turn, save members time and money.”

Attending conferences and joining industry trade groups requires a sacrifice of time and resources. But those willing to participate have a chance to get out more than they invested simply by getting involved and joining the conversation.