For the second time in five years, CSDA professionals from around the world converged in St. Petersburg, Florida for the association’s annual Convention & Tech Fair, setting records for the second consecutive year.
The association’s flagship event, held March 13-15 at the historic Renaissance Vinoy Resort in vibrant downtown St. Petersburg, was attended by a record-breaking number of attendees. It was the largest group to come together for a CSDA Convention outside of the always-popular Hawaii in 10 years! Attendance was up 15% over the last mainland U.S. Convention, the 2016 event in Palm Desert, California. Among the attendees were 19 new members and firsttime attendees, as well as members from the U.K., Germany and Canada.
Many attendees commented on the importance of taking part in these face-to-face meetings. “Great time with some very important people in the field. Cannot stress enough the importance of these meetings for contractors and manufacturers alike! We all benefit from these gatherings,” said Bruno Silla, vice-chair of the GPR Imaging Committee.
The Convention agenda included business and technical sessions, as well as presentations covering a wide range of topics. Among these were managing workers’ compensation claims, expanding your company’s digital marketing footprint, post-incident drug testing, the benefits of hiring military veterans and selling your company to specifiers. Two roundtables covered best practices for hiring and managing millennials and trends in the GPR industry.
Aside from the business sessions, some excellent networking opportunities and social events were available for attendees. The CSDA Tech Fair was again part of the convention agenda. Twentyfive industry-leading manufacturers and affiliates exhibited at the event, drawing a great crowd and allowing exhibitors to show off their new products and technologies. Attendees took the opportunity to talk one-on-one with vendors in an intimate setting that often cannot be achieved at large trade shows.
“The opportunity to gather with other industry professionals that share similar values and challenges at the CSDA Convention is always beneficial to the attendees, and the large attendance at this years’ convention in St. Petersburg is a testimony to the value people get from the programs, speakers and roundtables that take place during the meeting. As changes and additional regulations come about for our industry, the information exchanged among colleagues as a part of the convention becomes even more important to being able to move forward in serving our customers in a safe and professional manner,” said Matthew Finnigan, CSDA President.
Convention guests were treated to two offsite networking and social events, allowing them to see all that St. Petersburg has to offer. A new addition to the convention agenda this year was “Havana Nights”, an evening social and networking reception held at the St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Club, the oldest shuffleboard club in the country. Attendees were treated to the sounds of salsa music, a live show and Cuban cigars, and teamed up for a friendly game of shuffleboard, all while sipping on mojitos, Cuba Libres and other Havana-inspired drinks. The party continued well after sunset, and guests raved about the opportunity to get out and enjoy the warm Florida weather.
The convention closed out with the Manufacturers’ Night at the Dalí Museum, back by popular request. The same event was held at the museum in 2015 and has proven to be one of the attendees’ favorite venues. This year’s event was paired with the presentation of the outgoing Officer and Board of Directors Awards, as well as honoring Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Rick Norland. Rick is a 40+ year industry veteran who is recognized as one of the most influential and revered people in the industry. He has also served as CSDA President, a multi-term Board member and currently serves as CSDA’s Lead Instructor. New President Matthew Finnigan honored Norland with a moving speech and presented his award.
During the Manufacturers’ Night, guests were able to take a docent-led tour of the Dalí Museum galleries, highlighting not only the works of Spanish-American surrealist Salvador Dalí, but also of another famous surrealist artist, René Magritte. The evening continued with dinner under the stars in the museums famed gardens. It was the perfect way to close out a week of education, networking and innovation.
Next year, the CSDA Convention & Tech Fair heads west to Carlsbad, California at the Omni La Costa Resort & Golf Club, March 10-14, 2020. This beautiful resort is family-friendly, boasts a championship golf course, a variety of activities and stunning views. A very competitive rate was secured, and registration will open in the fall. More details on this and other events from CSDA, can be found at csda.org or by calling the CSDA office at 727-577-5004.