LAS VEGAS — In a world of ordinary mortals, more than 1,000 dedicated tradespeople descended upon Las Vegas from all over the globe to obtain the intellect, indomitable will, and super hero prowess necessary to grant them near invincibility in the HVACR, plumbing, and electrical trades.

These contracting super powers were disseminated at the second-annual Service World Expo, Sept. 7-8 at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.

Service World Expo is recognized as a new, innovative industry convention designed to transcend the traditional trade show experience.

The multifaceted seminar designed to provide superior business services to residential HVAC, plumbing, and electrical contractors — presented by Service Nation Inc. and BNP Media, parent company of The NEWS — set out to do something new. More than the same old show in the same old city with the same old attendees, Service World Expo pioneered its own path via face-to-face networking, intimate training sessions, exclusive evening receptions, interactive trade show exhibits, and much more.

“Over and over, the consistent feedback we heard from exhibitors was about the quality of the attendees,” said Liz Patrick, vice president of strategic alliances, Service Roundtable. “The contractors who attended Service World Expo were there because they wanted to learn, grow, and gain exposure to cutting-edge products and services. They know this show is the only place that delivers all that and makes it fun.”


While the conference showcased its super powers, no super hero stood taller than J.R. Martinez.

Martinez was deployed to Iraq as a 19-year-old private with the U.S. Army in March 2003. One month later, the Humvee he was driving ran over a roadside bomb. He endured severe burns to more than 34 percent of his body and remained in rehab for 34 months.

His recovery was difficult, but, day by day he fought to overcome his injuries. Nearly three years later, he emerged from the medical facility and entered a world that he would never see, nor would never look at him, the same.

“Once I learned how bad my scars were, found out how I looked, and came to grips with how I was going to look for the rest of my life, I fell into a deep, dark hole,” Martinez said. “I was depressed, angry, and blamed everybody.”

His mother insisted that something good would come from this and encouraged him to remain optimistic. Building on that conversation, Martinez started his life over. He began speaking with others in the hospital, recognizing the positive impact his story had on his peers. One speaking engagement became a dozen, and, before he knew it, Martinez was proudly sharing his story with anyone who would listen.

Then, a friend encouraged him to audition for “All My Children.” He got the gig and when his three-month contract expired, it was extended to three years. His success on the daytime soap opera earned him an invite to participate on the hit show “Dancing With the Stars,” which he went on to win.

Martinez has since enrolled at Fordham University and continues to wow audiences worldwide with his motivational, uplifting message.

“I’ve run into a lot of roadblocks and adversity, but I want to look at every single box I’ve been in previously and say, ‘I pushed myself and I made it,’” Martinez said. “You are all here at Service World Expo for a reason. You want to grow, push yourself, and network. Continue thinking outside the box. You’re here because you’ve been successful. But you’ve decided to take the next step — to step outside of your comfort zone and challenge yourself. You’re the only one able to fulfill your dreams. Other people can’t do it for you. It’s up to you.”

Martinez was one of four keynote speakers, including Daniel Lemin, author of the best-selling book, “Manipurated;” Traci Brown, body language expert; and Ryan Estis, CEO, Ryan Estis and Associates.


Service World Expo offered attendees more than 20 breakout sessions.

In his session, “Recruiting and Leading ‘Sales Superhero’ Millennials,” Kenny Chapman, owner, The Blue Collar Success Group, told attendees that millennials are reshaping the way we do business.

“Like it or not, as company leaders, we need to do our best to recognize how to recruit, retain, and understand the needs of millennials,” he said. “Getting inside the millennial mindset is crucial, now more than ever, as we are faced with the challenge of simultaneously training multiple generations to be effective salespeople.”

Tab Hunter, owner, The Surfin’ Plumber, led a session titled, “The Five Blockers of Service Management Success: How to Destroy Obstacles to Accelerate Growth.”

“Every owner knows the importance of effective service management in their company,” he said. “Why is it then that so many companies are inefficient, sacrificing customer service, and struggling with double-digit turnover year after year?”

In addition to Chapman and Hunter, other speakers included Michael Souders, vice president, sales, Winsupply Inc.; Travis Carter, vice president, sales, Scorpion; Dave Squires, owner, Online-Access Inc.; Ruth King, president, HVAC Channel TV; and more.


Service World Expo heaped praise upon a number of attendees via several awards ceremonies.

Karl Zellmer, vice president of air conditioning sales for Emerson Commercial and Residential Solutions; Butch Welsch, president, Welsch Heating & Cooling Co., St. Louis; and Larry Taylor, industry consultant and former owner of AirRite Air Conditioning Co. Inc., Fort Worth, Texas, were honored as Legends of HVACR by The NEWS.

Steve Miles, vice president and CEO, Jerry Kelly Heating and Air Conditioning, St. Louis, received the 2017 Ron Smith Leadership Award; Amy Davis, vice president and director of operations, Budget Heating, Cooling & Plumbing, St. Peters, Missouri, earned the Woman of the Year Award; and Tom Piscitelli, owner, TRUST Training and Coaching, South Colby, Washington, received the Consultant of the Year Award.


More than 1,000 attendees participated in this year’s event, and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive.

“This show has been awesome,” said Joe Burfeind, operations manager, Comfort Matters Heating & Cooling, Maple Grove, Minnesota. “I loved the variety of sessions. The content has been great.”

Corey Hickmann, owner, Comfort Matters, said he cherished the opportunity to meet with his peers.

“The trade show floor wasn’t pushy at all and felt very comfortable,” he said. “I enjoyed the social aspect, and these interactions weren’t all fun and games as we talked business as well. It was nice to get to talk to other contractors. Overall, this was a great event.”

Hickmann said all contractors should consider attending next year.

“This event was so valuable, I’d even recommend our competitors attend,” he said. “I know I’ll absolutely be back next year.”

Scott Spangler, owner, Air Flow Technologies, Yukon, Oklahoma, attended last year’s show and said this year’s event far exceeded 2016’s offering.

“It’s bigger and better this year,” he said. “There sure was a lot of information to take in. It’s great to share fellowship with all the other contractors here — to hear the trials and tribulations that they’ve been through. Learning how they overcame these issues is great education for us.”

Teressa Dew, owner, Dew’s Comfort Systems, North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, hasn’t attended many trade shows but said Service World Expo will likely become a fixture for her and her business.

“We just joined Service Nation Alliance in March,” she said. “I went to Boot Camp, and they encouraged us to come here,” she said. “I’m glad they did because this has been a very good show. My favorite speaker was Traci Brown. Her message resonated with me and really helped me understand the science of people.”


“Last year’s event exceeded our expectations, and this year did again,” said Jen Anesi, chief editor, Plumbing & Mechanical. “There were not only more people, but the engagement was off the charts. Instead of wandering around or skipping out of sessions, which sometimes happens at trade shows, Service World Expo attendees packed not just the keynote presentations but also the breakout sessions, which covered a range of topics from improving sales techniques to managing millennial employees, improving search engine optimization, diversifying one’s business, and so much more.

“Nobody can succeed as an island,” Anesi continued. “Service Roundtable knows this; the best-of-the-best contractors know this. In all the profiles I’ve written about successful industry leaders over the years, the most common refrain — aside from ‘treat your employees and customers like they’re your family’ — is that networking with and learning from others in your field is absolutely crucial. This event offers both in a great location.”

Mike Murphy, publisher, The NEWS, said the energy and involvement of the attendees and exhibitors was inspiring.  

“Hearing the conversations, and witnessing the ideas being generated at the Service World Expo reminds me how fortunate we are to be a part of such a great industry,” he said. “We are already working on the program for next year at Caesars Palace. This just keeps getting better, and all the professionals who attended are the reason for the event’s growth and success.”

While the bar has been set high, Murphy is confident the event will continue to exceed expectations in 2018.

“The 2018 event will continue to deliver the new information that contractors must have in order to remain competitive in their respective fields of HVAC, plumbing, and electrical. Be there or be left behind,” he said.   

For more information on the 2018 Service World Expo, visit

Publication date: 10/16/201

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