Known as the “Steel City,” Pittsburgh proved to be a natural fit for the metal construction industry’s largest international event this past month sponsored by locally-based, long-time partners’ United States Steel Corporation (U.S. Steel) and PPG.
“METALCON attendees really enjoyed Pittsburgh and realize it’s no longer the rusty and gritty city that comes to mind but a charming and vibrant cosmopolitan city thriving in technology, healthcare, finance and education,” said METALCON Show Director, Claire Kilcoyne.
Kicking off day one of the show was keynote speaker, Rocky Bleier, a four-time NFL Superbowl Champion and running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who inspired attendees in his talk about Leadership through Teamwork, Perseverance & Hope.
“There’s a universal theme no matter what you do, whether working in the steel industry or playing organized sports,” said Bleier. “There are certain foundations―leadership becomes very important and the kind of people you have on your team. If you don’t have talented people, you’re going nowhere. Once you have your people together, you can decide where you want to go. Then, you have to get those people to buy into that vision, and together, you can do great things.”
Throughout the show, autographed jerseys and footballs were raffled to help raise funds for a charity near and dear to Bleier, the Veterans Leadership Program of Western Pennsylvania. METALCON show management presented a check for $8,000 (including a $5,000 donation from U.S. Steel) to the organization’s CEO during an on-site check presentation ceremony.
“The giving back program is the most exciting part of the show for me personally,” said Kilcoyne. "We are always happy to support our veterans and hope the funds raised will help other veterans who have faced adversity just as Rocky did.”
Also on day one of the show, Heidi Ellsworth, co-founder of National Women in Roofing (NWIR), moderated an all-women panel―a mix of manufacturers and contractors, including women industry experts representing the Association of Women in the Metal Industries, the Metal Roofing Alliance, the Steel Alliance and NWIR. They discussed various issues facing women in this non-traditional industry from a labor shortage to recruiting and mentoring women in the industry, to communication and best practices.
“Studies show, the return on investment for companies supporting these types of professional women’s associations and other types of diversity promotes the company’s culture and actually creates opportunities to make more money,” said Ellsworth. “Your revenues grow, your profits grow, and people want to buy from companies that are really making an impact.”
New to the show floor this year was CONTECH, an interactive and innovative hub showcasing the hottest trends in construction technology, sponsored by U.S. Steel, a leading integrated steel producer.
“Each day, we held fireside chats, which provided a great opportunity to reinforce U. S. Steel’s commitment to the metal construction industry,” said Mark Carlisle of U. S. Steel’s Consumer Solutions Division. “It was also a great platform for us to communicate our company’s strategic investments in leading technology and advanced manufacturing.”
“CONTECH was very well attended―we had a lot of good questions and good leads," said Ian Warner of 3D modeling technology company Trimble Solutions USA, Inc. “In my mind, there is no other way to actually build projects without using some of these technologies.”
On day two of the show, title sponsor PPG, one of the world’s largest suppliers of paints, coatings and specialty materials, introduced former professional ice hockey center and seven-time Stanley Cup winner Bryan Trottier who spoke about Finding Strength in Teamwork & Diversity. Attendees had the opportunity to see the Stanley Cup in person along with a whole host of trophies brought by the Hockey Hall of Fame.
“These accomplishments reflect well on the teams and teammates,” said Trottier. “It takes all different kinds of players from different places, backgrounds and cultures; all with different roles―it’s a wonderful blend.”
This year’s Total Experience included more than 250 leading companies exhibiting the latest metal construction industry products and technology along with education and training sessions―all located on the show floor.
“METALCON 2019 was a terrific show for our company,” said Operations Manager Jeff Stortz of John Stortz & Son, Inc. “Attendees responded well to our demonstration and appreciated being able to be hands-on with our products. I have already been in contact with multiple leads from the show, and we look forward to exhibiting next year in Las Vegas.”
Kilcoyne agrees, “It was a phenomenal show with a lot of energy, and the convention center was absolutely gorgeous. I think it’s the first time in my career I’ve been in a convention center with natural daylight. We are already having conversations about a return to Pittsburgh in the future.”