Thousands of roofing companies will converge on Orlando at the end of this month for the three-day International Roofing Expo

presented by Hanley Wood Exhibitions in cooperation with the National Roofing Contractors Association. The roofing industry's premier event draws not only commercial and residential roofing contractors but also architects, designers, building managers, and others. With 400 companies exhibiting in more than 900 booths (for a complete list click here) the Expo offers a once-a-year opportunity to view all the new products and systems that manufacturers have on offer.

The show is also chock-full of informational presentations and hands-on learning sessions. This year the IRE features an educational conference and a schedule of hands-on show floor events totaling 43 sessions over the course of the event. On the show floor, expect to see demonstrations of efficient roof removal, installation of rooftop solar, recycling of rooftop materials, and ways and means to enhance installation productivity. One show floor tutorial features a typical roofing company office where attendees can "learn in one hour" smartphone applications to help run their businesses more efficiently.

The conference program, long a draw for this important show, offers, among other sessions, an update on OSHA/EPA rules and enforcement; slate roof installation ("How to Install a Slate Roof That Will Last a Century"); 2012 building code changes as they apply to roofing; air barriers; pricing a job; brand-building; workplace safety; and much more.

It also includes sessions on marketing and managing by owners of some of the country's most successful residential roofing companies, such as marketing whiz Ken Kelly, of Kelly Roofing, in Florida; Rod Menzel of GreatWay Roofing, in California; and Bob Kulp, owner of Kulp's of Stratford, in Wisconsin, all of whom regularly share their insights with Replacement Contractor.

(For a complete list of conference sessions and show floor programs, click here.) Other highpoints include interactive demonstrations providing step-by-step instructions on solving a wide variety of roofing problems, sponsored by Professional Roofing magazine. The show will feature the first Safety Day on Feb. 23, offering training in the use of fall protection systems.

For attendee convenience, the Technology & Business Service Pavilion groups companies in the tech field and offers attendees a place to find the tools and technology they need to help them manage their businesses. Green companies, such as Asphalt Shingle Grinding Service, EcoStar, and Orion Energy Systems, will be grouped together in the Sustainability Pavilion, formerly the Renewable Energy Pavilion. And the Metal Marketplace is a must-attend location for roofers using metal. There they will see new products, designs, installation methods, tools, and services. Vendors in pavilion areas will offer regular 30-minute demonstrations.

This year's keynote speaker is NASCAR legend and champion Rusty Wallace, whose topic, "Running a Winning Organization," focuses on how teamwork is pivotal to winning.