Monday, March 23, 2009

National Convention Report

Our trip down was uneventful and we arrived Tuesday afternoon at the Embassy Suites in Winston-Salem NC. Once we were settled in our room, we met up with George & Kim Stroup (George is our Regional director) at what turned out to be a nightly reception the hotel gave each evening where persons staying at the hotel received a couple of free drinks and appetizers. Also with us were John & Lisa Podreca who are past Guild members who migrated down to No. Carolina a few years ago and it was great to see them again. We took someone's advise and went next door to the Mellow Mushroom for pizza. Kim's choice was "The Magical Mystery Tour" and I'm still trying to figure out what kind of mushrooms were on that pizza and why she was smiling all night!!!

George & Kim Stroup

The next morning Dan and I attended the Annual General Membership meeting as well as the CSIA informational meeting. I was ironic to see the National Guild having the same problems as we do trying to get enough voting members to a meeting for a quorum, but they finally did it. There was no quorum in Reno last year, so we went over two reports. It was there that Randy Brooks, current President of National, announced that next year the National convention will be held in Indianapolis. The highlight of the CSIA informational meeting was that CSIA has paid it's debt off to National for money they borrowed.
"Sooty" Bob Daniels was the Keynote Speaker this year and the address this year was "The Building Business Hall of Fame". In this address, Bob mentioned a number of people who's ideas helped build this industry. Mentioned was Fred Toldo, who the Mass. Guild has had an educational award named, that was given in past years. Also mentioned was Roland Robideaux, a former Mass. Guild member who's idea of "Forward Scheduling" is used by many sweeps now.
After the annual Group Photo was taken, I was able to round up all but one of the Mass. Guild members who attended.

Back Row: George & Kim Stroup, Erin Biscoe, Bob Searles, Judd Berg, Tom Biscoe, Mike Dhembe, Rich Buffone, Maureen Buffone
Front Row: Rich Rua, Billy Sweet, Jean Jacobson, Dan Jacobson, Mike Elliott (missing is Dave Bancroft)

Later that afternoon I attended the State Presidents Forum. I believe that due to some glitch, announcements of this meeting were never sent out and therefore the meeting was poorly attended. However it did give those who did attend a lot more time with Randy Brooks to talk about what's going on in our respective Guilds.
In the evening I attended the Presidents Reception. This years reception was combined with the "Meet and Greet" for the foreign attendees. It also had something that's never been there before and that's our own Sootprints who played acoustically. However the highlight of the evening was a Barney Fife & Gomer Pyle impersonators. The had a lot of fun joking with the attendees as well as the band. A few tables had also been set up for Pass the Pigs, which is traditionally played at conventions.

The Sootprints at the Presidents Reception

"Barney Fife" had a few words to say about the band.

Judd Berg & friends also played a rousing round of Pass the Pigs!!

The next day I was fortunate to attend one of the seminars in the morning before the opening session of the Tradeshow. It was finally time to see and talk to the people that you only get to see but once or twice a year.

Sooty Bob Daniels and Cathy Rocque of Copperfield Chimney Supply

Richard Payton of ICP

Jim Gillam of SNEWS Magazine & Russ Moore

Chuck Philips of Lindemann Chimney Supply doing what he does best

Pierre Simard of National Chimney Supply

Edmund Popolowski of Olympia Chimney Supply

Later that evening, Dan and I plus 6 others were treated to a fabulous meal at the Camel City Cafe by Chuck Phillips of Lindemann Chimney Supply. We want to thank him again for another memorable evening of food, friends and family!

When we got back to the hotel, Dan and I found that the rest of the band had set up in the Piano Lounge so he went and got his "drums". Then the band, and any other person who had an instrument or the nerve to sing, played and sang well after midnight.

The next morning was the closing session of the Trade Show where we had to say quick good-byes to a lot of the vendors who travel home right after the show. Once the trade show floor was broken down, it was time to set up for the Auction. The auction "theme" was NASCAR, and the "pit crews" wasted no time setting up for the event.

This year Judd Berg ran the auction. We tried something different this year, and Dan & I ran a small "silent auction" while the regular auction was running. Since Randy Atkinson, who has been our auctioneer for many years, no long "sweeps" and therefore doesn't attend conventions, this year we had 3 auctioneers. Our "head" auctioneer was John Pilger. The fact that John had just gotten out of the hospital after having quadruple by-pass surgery, speaks of his dedication and commitment to this industry. Great job John!

Auctioneer #2 who graciously let John take a few breaks was Ashley Eldridge.

The next morning I slept in a bit and got caught up with a little paperwork. Then it was time for the Sootprints to set up and do sound checks. A great big thank you goes out to Chuck & Cindy Phillips and Adam Chapman who were their sound and light technicians.

Adam Chapman, Chuck & Cindy Phillips

Here are Dan and I ready for the evening festivities.
While the band played an instrumental of Pink Floyd's "The Wall", the evening begin with a procession line that ended with Randy & Traci Brooks.

Here Mike Elliott, who was lucky enough to be on the crew of "Sweep the White House" last August, watches as an American Flag is presented to the National Guild.

Below are highlights of the evening

Billy Sweet and friends

Michelle & Adam Chapman

Me with Yvette Aube' from Canada

Enjoying the evening was Judd Berg

Rich Buffone, Bob Searles, Dan Jacobson, Rick Vollmer, Erin Biscoe & Tom Biscoe AKA "The Sootprints"

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