The Chicagoland Cooperator’s Condo,HOA & Co-op Expo brought more than 2,000 people to the Navy Pier November 18th to meet with nearly 300 exhibitors, attend informative seminars and have their questions answered by professionals. Attendees not only learned about new products and services, networked with hundreds of service providers but they also had a good time socializing and exchanging information with their fellow board members and peers.
All under One Roof
The all-in-one-day Expo (il-expo.com) at the Navy Pier Convention Center brought together Chicagoland’s best property managers, board members, real estate professionals, shareholders, service providers, vendors and unit owners all under one roof. “Attendees can find everything here from asbestos abatement to window replacement,” said Henry Robbins, executive vice president and sales director of Yale Robbins, Inc. The ability to find vendors and service providers their associations need was a priority of many of the attendees. Board member Neil Stout of Schaumburg said the face-to-face vendor interaction is one of the great features of the Expo. “I really enjoy visiting and chatting with the vendors. We have attended for two years now and have formed new vendor relationships and continue to meet prospective partners.” “Last year, we were successfully able to find a new insurance broker. That was very profitable for us. This year, we spent a lot of time looking for roofing contractors, and I spent a lot of time talking to community management firms. One of the more interesting or innovative things I learned was talking to a vendor that provided collections services, and he had an interesting take on how to save us money.” Property manager Diane Burge, CPM, ARM, agreed. “I attended for the opportunity to meet contractors who might provide necessary services, the opportunity to see new products and services,” said Burge, who is also a building owner and a licensed realtor with Wesley Realty Group. Burge said her to-do list this year included speaking with laundry equipment providers and roofing contractors, and she also sought out companies that would help her replace the plumbing/heating risers in several of her buildings. She also spent time with lenders that might be able to help her secure capital improvement loans for some of the work she needed done. “In each of our shows, we strive to present attendees with information and products that will make running their communities easier and more efficient,” said Yale Robbins, president of Yale Robbins, Inc., Expo producer and publisher of The Chicagoland Cooperator. “And we also put a great deal of thought into the bigger picture, anticipating trends and trying to broaden and build on our offerings from one year to the next.”
A Learning Experience
The free ask-the-expert advice booths also drew the attention of many of the attendees. Attendees waited in line to pose their questions to the assembled attorneys, property managers and financial professionals who donated their time at the event. The expo held a total of eight seminars throughout the day. Five presentations focused on condominiums, and the other three covered issues related to apartment management. The seminar sessions led off with Call 911! Preparing for Emergencies, sponsored by The Chicagoland Cooperator. Experts looked at the pros and cons of preparing an emergency preparedness plan to weather crises ranging from fires to extreme weather events. Associa Chicagoland managers Lea Marcou and Donna Ciota mapped out The Game Plan: Planning Your Association’s Year to Save Time and Money. Marcou and Ciota went through the various documentation needed by management professionals from an annual maintenance and business calendar, how to keep legal and contractual deadlines in check, and ensuring that seasonal maintenance deadlines are met as well to avoid costly breakdowns, repairs and overruns. A standing-room-only crowd gathered to hear The Chicagoland Cooperator’s panel of experts discuss Dealing with the Difficult: Avoiding and Resolving Conflicts. Management and legal experts provided advice to board members and managers on the best ways to handle legal disputes, manage projects and keep things on track. Mediation, arbitration and alternative dispute resolution strategies were also discussed. Energy savings and more efficient buildings were another big issue on the minds of board members and property managers. In his presentation, Cashing In: How to Make Your Buildings More Energy Efficient, DRF Trusted Property Solutions’ Scott Schnurr hosted an expert panel that included Peter Santangelo of Community Advantage, Michael Porter of Lieberman Management Services and Steve Wallon of CLEAResult. This seminar gave attendees vital information on what incentives were available to their building communities to help them both conserve energy and save money in the process. Another hot topic these days for board and management professionals is dealing with short-term rentals and online services such as Airbnb. In the seminar, The Homeesharing Dilemma and Best Practices for Board Operations, experts looked at this nationwide homesharing trend and provided tips to lessen its impact on condo and HOA communities.“I really liked the seminars, and being able to learn how other condos deal with certain issues,” said board member Laura Dahl from Chicago.
The Chicagoland Cooperator also hosted three information-packed seminars specifically geared toward apartment building managers and rental building owners. Small Game Hunting: Pest Control for Multifamily Buildings featured pest control and legal experts that instructed attendees on their legal and financial responsibilities as a building owner or landlord to provide a habitable, pest-free building. The second seminar, Tenant Screening, Fair Housing and the Law helped attendees to navigate the complicated issues involved in landlord/tenant relations, background screening and credit checks, compliance with federal Fair Housing laws, and more. Lastly, The Chicagoland Cooperator presented Security vs. Privacy – Big Brother is Watching. Experts on this panel detailed the latest innovations in today’s security technologies and what can be deployed in rental properties. Key cards, CCTV, log books and digital technology were reviewed along with privacy laws and resident’s rights.
$2,500 Reserve Fund Giveaway
No trade show is complete without giveaways and raffles. One lucky board member is going to receive this year’s reserve fund prize giveaway, courtesy of The Chicagoland Cooperator and Yale Robbins Publications LLC. In a drawing held after registration is closed, one Expo attendee will win a $2,500 contribution to their building or association's reserve fund. A check for the winnings will be made payable to the winner’s building, care of their management company. Only board members qualified to enter the reserve fund drawing, and attendance at the Expo was required for eligibility. Information on the winner will be announced. “The Expo is an exciting event and provides a great opportunity to learn new things and meet with experts from every corner of the condo, HOA and co-op industry,” said Joanna DiPaola, director of marketing and events for the Expo. The next Chicagoland Expo will be in the spring on Wednesday, May 18th at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont. The Fall Chicagoland Expo will take place on Tuesday, November 15, 2016 at the Navy Pier. Go to il-expo.com for more information.
Debra A. Estock is managing editor of The Chicagoland Cooperator.