I began my first full day in Toronto by getting to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre bright and early to ensure our booth was where it was supposed to be, along with our trade show materials. I could tell there wouldn’t be a problem thanks to the hundreds of APWA volunteers who all donned red, white and maple leaf-clad hockey jerseys. So far, so good! ClearSpan’s booth (# 1705) was flanked by a truck wash company from Michigan and an industrial-grade saw company with corporate offices in – cue irony here – Connecticut.
Everything proceeded to go smoothly. This was the first trade show as an employee of ClearSpan I was attending on my own, so it was imperative I gave myself enough time to set up and be prepared for when the exhibit halls opened.
All day folks stopped by to learn about our fabric buildings, and a couple had even indicated they were sure they just started talking to someone within our company. At ClearSpan, we pride ourselves on customer service, so I requested their information in order to pass it along to my team at home so they could follow up with them promptly. From public works directors to city engineers, I spoke with potential clients from Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and from Canada, Manitoba and Ontario, to name just a few. Applications ranged from salt sheds to equipment storage to an amphitheater stage shelter for a parks & recreation department.
At the conclusion of day one, a “Get Acquainted Party” from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. took place at The Liberty Grand, a beautiful venue on the western outskirts of the city located on the shores of Lake Ontario. As I patiently waited on the track 10 platform for the GO Train at Union Station to take hundreds of APWA professionals to this networking gala, I engaged in conversation with an engineer from Ontario and a municipality team from Virginia Beach, Va.
The double-decker cars were standing room only on this Sunday evening, making it seem like it was rush hour. I met another group from Manitoba on the train and subsequently spent a portion of the party with these municipal ambassadors and full time farmers. The event was catered with tastes from Toronto’s Little Italy, Chinatown, Greektown and Canadiana that also included live music and cirque-style performances – it was absolutely amazing.
Want to know one of the nuggets I took away from this group from Manitoba? Get ready for this! One gentleman who has lived in suburban Winnipeg his entire life said he never experienced a winter season like the one most of us just endured. Why, you ask? Well, the city’s last of its frozen water mains have finally, completely thawed – two weeks ago! That can’t be possible. Oh, but it was! I – along with the others in the group, couldn’t believe what we had just heard!
On my way back on the hotel shuttle, I sat next to a storm water professional from Regina, Saskatchewan, a city of about 175,000. We talked about work, family and all things Saskatchewan. My Canadian travels have been limited to some of its most iconic eastern cities, but nothing west of Toronto. After today’s networking, I hope to visit Manitoba and Saskatchewan sometime very soon.
To cap off a busy second day, I walked to Rogers Centre, the current home of the Toronto Blue Jays. Though the sole Major League Baseball team from Canada was on the road, there was still a home game – for the Canadian Football League’s Toronto Argonauts. They played host to, and eventually bowed, to the British Columbia Lions, 33-17, but I was excited to have attended my first CFL game.
Stay tuned for Day 2 of my APWA adventures which will be posted on Monday!