LAS VEGAS — 2017 was a record for the International Roofing Expo, with the March 1-3 event attracting its largest crowd ever. 

Official attendance at the Mandalay Bay conference center was 11,273. Booth space was sold out, with 1,317 booths taking up 131,700 square feet of exhibit space. For comparison, last year’s Orlando show brought in 9,493 people and the 2014 — the last one in Las Vegas — attracted 9,568, according to show organizers. 

“This was an amazing show to find leading-edge products, high-level education and numerous networking opportunities,” said show director Tracy Garcia. “The show floor square footage was up 9 percent over last year, exhibiting companies were up 3 percent, and total attendance was up 19 percent, making this our largest, most attended show in the 62-year history.”

An estimated 43 percent of all attendees had never been to the roofing expo before. That included Ivona Mollberg of Green Link Inc. 

“We were pleasantly surprised by the traffic at our booth and came away with more leads than we anticipated,” she said. 

Longtime exhibitor and standing-seam metal roofing manufacturer D.I. Roof Seamers said the show exceeded expectations. 

“The IRE 2017 was incredible,” said Jonathan L. Rider of D.I. Roof Seamers. “I have not witnessed quality leads and such high attendance at show since before 2008."

Representatives with another metal roofing manufacturer, Petersen Aluminum, agreed.

“This year's show surpassed our expectations,” said Rob Heselbarth of Petersen Aluminum. “The number of attendees was high, as was the level of excitement and positivity about the year ahead. We enjoyed strengthening relationships with our existing customers, and talking with potential customers about doing business moving forward.”

Every morning, before the show opened, early rising attendees — not always easy to find in a 24-hour hotspot like Las Vegas — could go to one of 44 educational seminars. And even with sessions starting before 8 a.m., many sessions were nearly full: conference attendance was up 39 percent over last year. 

Mike Mitchell of Pioneer Roofing Co. liked the sessions he attended. 

“The seminars and demonstrations blew me away, and I came away with new information and ideas that I have already started to implement in my day to day routine,” Mitchell said. “This new information will be invaluable to my performance going forward.”

Kevin McArthur of McKay Sheet Metal & Roofing said he always gets up for the education program when he goes to the roofing expo. 

“Attending the IRE is extremely motivating even for a small contractor in Canada,” he said. “What I learn covers the cost of my trip every year.”

Next year’s expo is scheduled for Feb. 6-8 in New Orleans.