CONFERENCE RECAP 2019
The "Show for the Tent Professional 2019" was hosted in a brand new venue this year - the Embassy Suites Raleigh Durham Research Triangle, Raleigh, NC. Experiencing some true southern hospitality, MATRA members, once again, enjoyed their annual gathering complete with networking, education, awards and fabulous sunny weather! Installation began with some tents just initially staking and the installation of Fred's Registration Tent on Sunday in warm, dry weather. Just over 450 attendees gathered during the four day Conference beginning with all tent installations completed on Monday and ending with the Conference's traditional Thursday morning brunch. Monday also featured an all day, OSHA Compliant, Class 4 and Class 7 Forklift Operation and Safety Certificate class presented by Tim Day, Sunbelt Rentals.Those individuals completing the class received a Certificate which was valid for three years.
During the Annual Meeting held on Monday evening, MATRA's finances were reviewed before the member attendees, a conference education overview was presented and the current Board structure was introduced. One new Board member, George Poston, US Event Structures, was elected. George had served previously on the MATRA Board resigning due to some health issues. We welcome him back to the Board. In addition, Nelson Grandchamp will be joining the MATRA Board fulfilling a one year term left vacant by Bryan Bolt. Bryan was recently elected as an Associate Member Director of ARA. We thank him for his many years of service and dedication to our Education Program. Also leaving the Board this year is Butch Ruggiero serving most recently as Immediate Past President. Butch also has given the MATRA Board many years of service and we thank him for all of his contributions including the past two years as Chair of the MATRA Scholarship Committee.
The Education Committee again created a one-day education format for this year's conference. All sessions were held on Tuesday. A variety of education was presented that included: All about Anchoring, Round Table Discussions, Bridging the Communication Gap, Part 1 with a follow up under The Customer Experience, Part 2, Safety and Risk Management and Website Management. At the end of the educational day, attendees gathered under TopTec's tent for a "What's the Big Idea" session where all participated in an ideas exchange and guided discussions on issues facing everyone in today's tent rental industry. All sessions were well attended and everyone gained new knowledge in one educational area or the other.
Tuesday evening's Welcome Reception was held at the Rally Point Bar & Grill - a short distance up the hill from the hotel. An added interactive MATRA Scholarship Fundraiser was held during the last half of the Welcome Reception. "MATRA Moves" showcased several MATRA members in a "dance" contest complete with prizes! The dancers raised funds through MATRA pledge cards. Pledges received totaled over $20,000 and we will keep you posted as to the final amount! Keder Solutions sponsored "mason jar' mugs for the group as a parting gift.
The Annual Awards dinner was held inside the Embassy Suites in the "Carolina" Ballroom. Recently renovated, the ballroom was a beautiful setting to celebrate Hall of Honor winner, Steve Belliveau from Anchor Industries and Scott Pickel from TentOX, this year's Volunteer of the Year. Choice Party Linens Inc., sponsored the dinner linen decor. We thank them for their continued support of our annual awards dinner.
The MATRA "Peak Awards", a new and prestigious award recognizing the best in tented events, was introduced at the Award dinner this year. Many entries were submitted for this inaugural award in the category, "Excellence in Tenting." Submissions were received along with collateral photos and detailed descriptions of the event. Judging was conducted by industry professionals on the West Coast. George Smith, MATRA President, announced this year's winner - All Occasions Event Rental, Cincinnati, OH. Tommy Wilson, who accepted on behalf of his company, provided attendees with an overview of the challenges involved during the execution of this wedding during a severe rainstorm. Congratulations to Tommy and his team. Information will be released soon for the 2020 MATRA Peak Awards categories and submission guidelines.
Again, the ever popular and much anticipated MATRA Games Winners were announced at the Annual Awards Dinner. With over 70 participants, the field to capture the Golden Sledgehammer for 2019 was extremely intense. With competition in nine different categories, participants had to be the best in staking, throwing, lacing, carrying and had to be be quick on their feet. The individuals with the best achieved times of the 2019 Games advanced to the final round for the coveted title of the Golden Sledgehammer Award. Only one individual was entitled to receive this award and bragging rights until next year and the winner was, for the second year in a row, Allan Elium, Party Reflections. So, we say "Congratulations Allan" on your accomplishment as our 2019 Golden Sledgehammer Winner! Also walking away with the Women's Overall Award, for the second year in a row, was Courtney Tamuzza, Tent OX. Photos of the Games' competition and winning times will be located on the MATRA website
The Dave Higgins Band, one of the lowcountry's premier bands, entertained for the remainder of the evening with a mixture of American Rock, Country, Blues and Classic Rock.
Next year, "The Show for the Tent Professional 2020" will be returning to the beautiful Mohegan Sun Hotel/Casino in Uncasville, CT from November 9th-12th, 2020. Make sure you put these dates on your calendar. Don't forget to renew your membership by January 31, 2020!