For four days in October, more than 10,000 remodelers headed to the 2006 Remodeling Show in Chicago, where they attended seminars and clinics, networked with peers, and checked out hundreds of companies displaying their products on the showroom floor.

Learning Opportunities This year's conference program featured nearly 90 courses led by industry experts, including some regular contributors to REMODELING. With course topics that included hiring practices, Web marketing, client psychology, and growth strategies, the program offered something for remodeling companies of all sizes and levels of experience.

The installation clinics at the show are always popular with remodelers looking for hands-on lessons in innovative building techniques.
The installation clinics at the show are always popular with remodelers looking for hands-on lessons in innovative building techniques.

Several certification courses were also offered throughout the week, providing remodelers with the opportunity to earn important industry designations, including CR, CGR, and CAPS. On the show floor, remodelers were treated to a series of around 40 hands-on installation clinics. And at the demonstrations, attendees learned the latest in drywall essentials, trim carpentry, water-proofing showers, kitchen design, and more.

Best New Products At the New Products Pavilion, the Mobile Shop, made by Mobile-Shop Co., was this year's top-prize winner. The complete portable shop ( comes equipped with 230 tools and more than 180 small parts, such as screws and fasteners. It consists of a two-wheeled cart and a small bag which together roll like a standard piece of luggage, so organizing and keeping track of tools is simple.

This year's runner-up in the competition was Warm Tiles radiant floor heating from EasyHeat ( This floor heating system can be installed under tile, stone, laminates, or engineered-wood floors, and in rooms of any shape. Warm Tiles allows homeowners to manually control the tile temperature using a thermostat.

Third prize went to Quick Clips ( made by Focal Point Architectural Products. The Quick Clips product allows molding to be installed by attaching it to clips near the ceiling, eliminating the need for finishing nails.

Town Hall Meeting For the second consecutive year at the Remodeling Show, hundreds of remodelers gathered at the Town Hall Meeting for a Q&A session with a panel of experts. Moderated by Tom Swartz of J.J. Swartz Co., Decatur, Ill., the meeting featured remodelers Dave Bryan of Blackdog Builders, Salem, N.H.; Sue Cosentini of Cosentini Construction, Ithaca, N.Y.; and Devon Hartman of HartmanBaldwin Design/Build, Claremont, Calif. The range of topics was broad, covering everything from the merits of having a showroom to dealing with unpredictable subs.

Asked the best way to grow from a $500,000 company to a $1.5 million company, Bryan said it was most important to develop a plan that accounts for and “incorporates every single person” in the company. Hartman emphasized the need to create a realistic timetable for growth, while Cosentini warned against trying to grow your business without a capital reserve.

At the outset of the meeting, REMODELING's Lifetime Achievement award was presented to Mike Weiss, a builder and remodeler in Martinsville, Ind., for more than 30 years.