The National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) welcomed more than 6,800 members of the electrical construction industry and hundreds of exhibitors to NECA 2016 Boston for four days of education, networking and inspiration.
The trade show floor at the Boston Convention and Exposition Center featured more than 300 exhibitors. The opening reception was held at the Museum of Science and treated guests to exhibits, encounters and cuisine inspired by the regional elements of New England.
Walt Parkes, owner of O’Connell Electric Company in Victor, N.Y., stated he appreciated hearing the message from former Boston Police Chief Daniel Linskey. Attendees of the sold out Graybar sponsored preconvention workshop, Electrical Contractor 101, had positive reviews. Cathy Coffman, who works with the San Francisco Chapter, NECA, agreed that the speakers shared informative messages.
Entrepreneur and philanthropist Mick Ebeling gave a keynote address at the closing general session. Ebeling, who founded Not Impossible Labs, works with a team on projects to help people around the world. He talked about the concept of helping one to help many. “How do we take technology and modify it so it advances society?” he asks.
Ebeling has worked on efforts such as creating a device that allowed a young man stricken with ALS to draw with his eyes. Another project led Ebeling to Africa, where a South Sudan boy named Daniel had lost both arms during the ongoing civil war in the nation. His team eventually built an arm for Daniel and taught his community how to build them for others.
“What we realized is that impossible is a temporary state,” he says.
To open the convention, presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin recounted her experiences with presidents past and present – and possibly future — and touched on the 2016 race for the White House during her keynote speech.
A former White House intern who worked closely with President Lyndon Johnson in the 1960s, Goodwin noted the changes she has noticed in the political discourse. She commented about the present day relationship between the presidency and congress. “You’ve got to make that link,” she states. “Bring people to the White House, and get out of Washington.”
Jack Fiora, of Fiora Electrical Construction in Meriden, Conn., says the high point for him is spending time on the trade show floor. “I like seeing all of the gadgets and the showstoppers,” he says.
NECA CEO John Grau hit on that theme during the closing general session, saying technology is disrupting contractors’ businesses. “The term ‘disruptive technology’ is appropriate,” he says, adding that dealing with technology was a challenge he keeps hearing from members of the industry. “We need to seek out outside experts,” he continues. “Lack of industry knowledge is a plus.”
Greg Long, chairman of ELECTRI International, also gave an update on the state of the foundation, which he said is “strong.” He stated every project begins with a conversation. “We want you to be a part of the conversation,” Long tells the audience. Contractors can download the ELECTRI mobile app, which will help them get more out of their businesses.
The convention capped the event off with an evening of music featuring a private concert by the Boston Pops Swing Orchestra at the Symphony Hall.
Many contractors said they will return next year for NECA 2017 Seattle.