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2019 MCAC conference focuses on innovation and tech

Angela Gismondi
2019 MCAC conference focuses on innovation and tech

The Mechanical Contractors Association of Canada (MCAC) is hosting its 78th annual conference in Nashville Tenn. and organizers say it will be a good mix of educational and social programming, with an entire day dedicated to innovation and technology.

“We are building off momentum from previous years and adding some new elements to the conference that are going to showcase the new direction that MCAC is going,” said Ken Lancastle, executive director, communications, industry outreach and innovation.

“There is something for everyone. On the educational side of things, we have a robust program and fantastic speakers covering a variety of topics from procurement challenges to innovation and technology to risk solutions for contractors, sales and leadership.

“Nashville is a very fun and exciting city, there’s a great social program for delegates and companions. There is a lot of networking that goes on, there is a lot of relationship building that happens throughout the entire week.”

This year’s conference, billed Orchestrating the Industry’s Future, will be held Oct.2 to 5. It will also include board, council and committee meetings. It is expected to be the highest attended conference to date, drawing mechanical contractors, service providers and education coordinators from across the country.

New this year, attendees will hear from two keynote speakers. Graham Sherman, co-founder of Tool Shed Brewing Company in Calgary, will kick off the opening breakfast of the conference on Oct. 3. Sherman worked throughout Afghanistan on contracts for the Canadian and U.S. governments and military forces but when he moved back home, he wanted to start a craft brewing company. In his talk, Sherman will discuss the challenges and the innovative methods used to succeed as a newcomer to the industry.

“The construction industry is constantly faced with this challenge on every project,” said Lancastle. “Graham can speak to that struggle of meeting those challenges, being successful in that environment, innovating and collaborating and being unique in an industry that is well established.”

The guest speaker on the last day of the conference will be Mandy Rennehan, owner of FreshCo, a Canadian reconstruction and retail maintenance company, and an advocate for the trades. Called the “Blue-Collar CEO” for her ability to navigate between white- and blue-collar worlds, Rennehan will discuss the importance of encouraging youth, women and underrepresented groups to consider blue-collar jobs the same way they consider white-collar ones because both are needed and one is not better than the other.

“Anyone that has heard her story and seen her speak, they walk away and they’re excited, they’re amped up and they go home with an important message,” said Lancastle.

Oct. 4 will be Innovation and Technology day at the conference.

“The industry is experiencing some new innovation and technology at a rapid rate but there are a lot of questions that are coming in at the association level,” said Lancastle, adding some of the questions include how do we prepare ourselves? How do we get involved? What are some of these new innovative solutions and technology solutions that are going to impact our market and our sector?

“We have been asked to be a little more involved on that side of things and assist the membership. We held a successful conference in April in Toronto on innovation and technology and what that showed us is there is an appetite to hear more about this stuff so we thought what better way than to use our national conference to provide a little bit more exposure to the topics.

“In years past we have typically had sessions that have focused on technology and innovation but we have never combined them into a single day.”

Technology and Innovation Day will also feature a session entitled Construction Technology: Through the Looking Glass and a panel discussion on The Innovation Challenge. At the innovation tradeshow, different technology solution providers will be showcasing their products. UA is also hosting a technology session where they will display the different technologies they are using to train apprentices and journeymen.

Social events include Under the Nashville Stars at the Country Music Hall of Fame Park, the John Bradshaw Memorial Golf Tournament at Hermitage Golf Course, “This is How We Roll” at Florida Georgia Line House, a Women in Mechanical Construction networking event and a closing reception.

“People walk away from our conferences and they talk about the memories they made, the connections they made the friendships they made and I think a lot of people who come back year after year do so because they’ve had an opportunity to build those relationships whether it’s with suppliers, contractors or friends,” said Lancastle.

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Follow Angela Gismondi on Twitter @DCN_Angela.

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