Design Construction Expo merges commercial shows

April 3, 2011
| By Pete Daly |
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Two well-known commercial construction industry trade shows — Meet the General Contractor and Construction & Design Professionals Expo — have merged into one show this year called the 2011 West Michigan Design & Construction Expo, taking place Thursday, April 21, at the Davenport University Student Center in Caledonia.

The expo, which runs 2 to 8 p.m., is expected to attract more than a thousand visitors and will feature 100 exhibitor booths and nine organizations, including the AIA, IFMA-West Michigan, U.S. Green Building-West Michigan, NAWIC, WMMCA, CFMA-West Michigan, ASPE, ASA and BOMA.

Meet the General Contractor was presented by The Builders Exchange of Michigan. The Construction & Design Professionals Expo was sponsored by the Grand Rapids chapter of the Construction Specification Institute.

Elizabeth Bovard, office manager of The Builders Exchange of Michigan, said the plan is to make it an annual event.

“This is the first time the two — CSI and Builders Exchange — have come together to put on one show, and we just really want to knock it out of the ballpark,” said Bovard.

The expo will be useful for anyone with a professional interest in new commercial building projects, “or just to meet-and-greet and network, which is also a huge part of it, as well,” added Bovard.

She said the expo will include a focus on education, new product information, and the WECAN Build West Michigan competition and canned food drive for charity. The event brings together business owners, facilities managers, architects, engineers, general contractors, subcontractors and suppliers.

Continuing education classes for professionals in commercial construction will focus on legalities of contracts and surety bonds, improved construction methods, competitive bidding, new high-tech electronic tools, and climate change impacts on the construction industry.

The classes — one-hour sessions that are free to members of the two organizations and run 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. — are as follows:

  • Rules of the Trade: Common Contractual Provisions to Recognize, Understand and Use in Your Construction Business. Instructors: Bruce Courtade, Michelle Kitch, Thomas Saxe and Michael Walton of the Rhoades McKee law firm.

  • Improving the Building Envelope: Practical Methods to Improve Performance. Instructor: Gary Johnson of TowerPinkster.

  • Evaluating the Rights, Wrongs and Responsibilities in Construction Competitive Bidding. Instructor: Aileen Leipprandt of Hilger Hammond.

  • End-To-End 3D, BIM And Laser Scanning: Learn How To Mitigate Risk, Reduce Change Orders And Improve Project Cycle Time Within BIM Environment. Instructor: Clair Vander Zwaag of Nederveld.

  • Climate Change Conundrum: The Science and How it Impacts Nature, Society and the AEC Industry. Instructor: David Trudell of Trudell Architectural Consulting Inc.

  • Construction Surety Bonds: What Are They, How Do You Get Them, and What Do They Mean? Understanding Your Rights and Duties Under Bid, Payment and Performance Bonds. Instructors: Bruce Courtade of Rhoades McKee and Dennis Scully of Mapes Insurance Agency.

The pairing of GRCSI and The Builders Exchange was a natural fit, according to Bovard.

GRCSI, whose president is Larry Olson, is a nonprofit construction organization established in 1967 with the mission of advancing construction documentation and educating building teams to improve project performance in the West Michigan area.

The Builders Exchange is a member-owned nonprofit organization that was incorporated in 1911. It offers its members free seminars on current construction topics. It was originally created by contractors and the design community for the purpose of reporting news of opportunities in the commercial and public construction industry. It has evolved into a construction news service and plan room that covers the entire state of Michigan. Coverage starts at the pre-planning phase and continues through the bidding phase.

“The Builders Exchange of Michigan is proud to partner with the Grand Rapids Chapter of the Construction Specifications Institute to bring the construction community the 2011 West Michigan Design and Construction Expo,” said Bart Austhof, executive vice president of the local Builders Exchange. “This show will bring all elements of the commercial and public construction industry under one roof.”

The former Meet the General Contractor Open House was a networking event designed to create and build relationships within the construction industry.

The organization also supports the education of those entering the commercial and public construction industry; it has awarded more than $250,000 in scholarships over the past 30 years and recently established an endowed scholarship at Ferris State University for students in the construction management and HVAC programs.

The expo also will feature a tour of Davenport University’s LEED buildings and a student construction contest, WECAN Build West Michigan, which will use donated cans of food as construction material. Bovard said it will pit students from the Academy for Design & Construction at Union High School in Grand Rapids against students from Ferris State University enrolled in the construction management program.

“They’re going to build a building with those cans,” based on specifications provided to them, said Bovard.  The students will race to complete their projects within one hour, and each structure will then by judged. Afterward, the canned foods will be donated to several local charities, including Mel Trotter Ministries, God’s Kitchen and the Baxter Community Center.

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