Have you ever noticed what happens to a vehicle that’s left parked for too long? In a matter of weeks, the paint starts to dull; the battery dies, and the tires begin to dry rot. The same thing happens in our lives and our businesses. To remain vibrant, we must stay active, continually assessing and striving to improve. Over the last five years, that has been the process with VAA’s annual technical conference.
HISTORY OF FALL CONFERENCE EVOLUTION
Starting in 2015, VAA’s Board of Directors endorsed a change to the Fall Conference. It would remain at the Jefferson Hotel, but there would be a considerable adjustment to the format. In 2016, the Fall Conference expanded to include an expo for exhibitors. The meeting moved from the long-time location of The Jefferson Hotel to the Richmond Marriott-Downtown. The length of the conference was extended and included a series of micro-sessions on Day 2. With this change in location and format, attendance grew.
Again, assessing feedback from attendees and exhibitors, the format of the 2017 Fall Conference and Expo was adjusted. Attendees loved the addition of a Keynote Speaker in 2016, so that continued. Attendees provided favorable comments on the inclusion of Breakout Sessions. Six breakout sessions on Tuesday morning covered various topics from Construction Innovations to the Future of Pavement Design. But the attendees were still giving vital input, so 2018 saw the next big change.
Virginia Asphalt Conference & Expo was launched in 2018. VACE was another major shift for the once-technical conference held in October. Listening to feedback from attendees, VACE moved to December near the end of the paving season. VAA followed the same format, but the new date created an opportunity for more field personnel to attend. The change in dates and the format modifications starting in 2017 led to the largest asphalt technical conference in recent memory. So, what’s next?
Ever heard the expression “Go Big or Go Home”? For 2019, VAA has decided to “Go Big.” What does that mean? The content of the conference will be bigger, and the expo will be much bigger. With these BIG changes comes a BIG name change – Mid-Atlantic Asphalt Expo & Conference or MAAE. MAAE will be held at the Greater Richmond Convention Center December 11 and 12.
WHAT IS DIFFERENT?
The most obvious change is the name. Why Mid-Atlantic and not Virginia? Simple: The needs and requests from past Virginia technical conference attendees are not unique. People are seeking excellent training and learning opportunities near home. This need transcends Virginia; more than 70 million people live within a six-hour drive of Richmond. Major cities from New York to Charleston, SC fall within this radius.
Second, MAAE will reflect the requests from past asphalt conference attendees. Two recurring comments have appeared on conference surveys – provide training and exhibit equipment. Planners have heard those comments and structured MAAE accordingly.
MAAE 2019 will include two training paths on December 12. Beginning at 8 a.m., attendees will be able to participate in training related to paving/field operations or plant operations. Each session will be 90 or 105 minutes in length; industry experts from various equipment manufacturers and consulting firms will be leading sessions. Session topics will include Paver Operations, Compaction for Density and Smoothness, Asphalt Plant Operations and Troubleshooting, Running High RAP Percentages, and Balanced Mix Design. If training basics are not your desire, two additional technical sessions will be running concurrently throughout the day. Finally, companies exhibiting on the expo floor will be holding technical and marketing sessions after lunch. Of course, the exhibit hall will be open all day with a closing reception.
MAAE 2019 will feature paving equipment, plant equipment and other vendor booths in the GRCC Exhibit Hall. Many of the leading mid-Atlantic and national companies will be exhibiting equipment including Richmond Machinery, Astec, James River Equipment, Stansteel, and Carter Cat. Attendees will be able to see and touch the latest and greatest.
Registration for exhibitors is open now, and in the coming months, registration for MAAE attendees will open. Companies and agencies should take advantage of the early registration fees and book hotel rooms near GRCC. For companies interested in exhibiting, floor and booth space is limited, so don’t wait to register. To learn more about MAAE, visit the conference website at www.midatlanticasphaltexpo.vaasphalt.org/. We hope to see you in December!