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Eastern Energy Expo (EEE) 2016 is the premier trade show for the energy and comfort industries. The goal of this joint event is to provide a forum that brings all segments of the petroleum marketing industry together to network and learn.
This new event allows each organization to continue its efforts in promoting the interests of heating fuel marketers, motor fuel distributors and HVAC service professionals all under one roof. Interested energy professionals were invited to attend. The expo took place on May 22-26, at the Foxwoods Resort and Casino, in Mashantucket, Connecticut.
I spoke with Judy Garber, executive director of The National Association of Oil and Energy Service Professionals (OESP), and Eric DeGesero, executive vice president of the Fuel Merchants Association of New Jersey, to learn more about the event.
SC: What is the anticipated attendance?
JG: We are looking at 2,500 to 3,000 plus. We’ve been sold out of rooms and space. We’re a little nervous, but this is great to see this type of action.
SC: What should first-time attendees look forward to?
JG: This show is open to everyone in the energy industry, and all will benefit. Owners of companies, plumbers, HVAC techs and mechanics and more are all welcome to attend. We have over 250 unique exhibitors, an outdoor exhibit area with live training plus two separate exhibit halls.
First time attendees can look forward to a tremendous variety of things to do. We have four tracks with over 50 sessions from which to choose, from a management standpoint to technical sessions. First-time attendees can look forward to new events as well as traditional events.
ED: The first-time EEE attendee will see the best of previous trade shows with significant enhancements. On the heating fuel side, each of the prior shows had a primary focus on either technical education for service personnel or management oriented sessions with a much lesser focus on the other. EEE provides companies the ability to be exposed to a wide variety of top-notch programming in each. Additionally, we have a greatly enhanced motor fuel/convenience store programming thanks to the generous support of our Business Partner, CITGO.
SC: I noticed that your sessions are broken down by “track.” Please discuss some of the differences between tracks and who will benefit from each one. Why has the new Women in Energy track been added? What can attendees expect?
JG: The business track is geared more toward the owners of companies and management, whereas the technology tracks are geared toward technicians. For the technical tracks, participants will have the ability to gain CEUs for both the NATE program and our industry certification, which is called the NORA program. We strive to add sessions during which technicians can learn new things and also earn credits they may need for continuing education.
Our Women in Energy track is new. The intent with this track is to encourage women to “get out of the office” and learn more about the industry in general. It is also a time to meet other women that work in our industry. One interesting session will be a social media panel. How many times do companies believe they need to have a Facebook page but really don’t know how to manage it? We have a mix of sessions, networking and a lovely brunch complete with door prizes.
ED: There’s a Motors Fuel track that’s sponsored by Business Partner, CITCO. Our Motor Fuels track has been enhanced to a level that it has never been at before. CITGO, has helped arrange a dynamic series of speakers to help motor fuel distributors better understand how they can learn from their convenience store customers to better enhance their shopping experience and to be more profitable in doing so.
SC: What are some of the informational sessions or workshops you would like to highlight?
JG: I’d like to focus on the technical side. It is a great opportunity for individuals that are registered in our industry certification program, NORA. Technicians can earn valuable CEUs but the seasoned technician can take advantage of getting a jumpstart in the revamped NORA Gold program. Three of the six modules in this program will be available to them — hydronics, air-flow and venting.
We also have a variety of technical programs for companies looking to diversify their product offerings. We have sessions that include natural gas, propane and air conditioning. A lot of our folks started on the oil heating side of the business, but ventured over to other outlets because they know that diversification equals survival and growth.
SC: What are some of the hot topics and key focus points on the radar this year?
ED: The thing I am most interested in is how our attendees can better use data to enhance their offerings to their customers as well as increase their profitability. On both the heating fuel and motor fuel sides of the ledger, our customers tell us a lot, more than we know. Our problem is that we don’t know how to filter and distill the data to make it work to our advantage. Often, data analytics is seen as the purview only of large companies. EEE will provide attendees the opportunity to learn how small businesses can use information they already have to their advantage. EEE is also offering other programming that, while not specific to data, helps us better understand what our customers are thinking and what we need to change to continue serving their needs.
JG: Since Eastern Energy Expo itself stands as a combined effort between OESP and AREE and PPA [Pennsylvania Petroleum Association], we can culminate energies and business ideas. A lot of people are excited to see what is going to happen with this combination. As you can imagine it takes a lot of coordination with many moving parts, and our goal from the beginning was for each of our organizations to keep our own separate identities. That is something you have to be constantly cognizant of.
SC: What should attendees expect from special networking and social events planned for the expo?
JG: OESP welcomes guests to participate in our golf tournament. The tournament benefits our scholarship program. We also invite folks to our Opening Reception Monday night and our Awards Banquet Tuesday evening and we are hosting a combined closing party at High Rollers. It should be lots of fun.
ED: Supplier Hospitality Night has always been a key component of AREE; it is literally an event within the event. As always, we are thankful for the investment our sponsors make in the show and the confidence they have in us. The sponsors are always appreciate that we can aggregate all of their customers, both current and prospective, in one place at one time, providing them an opportunity that is very difficult to replicate.
SC: Is anything new happening at the expo compared to years past?
JG: From OESP’s perspective, the “newness” is that we’re introducing to our owners exactly how our group fits into the industry. This show says that we’re all in the same sandbox. We plan to have a strong chapter presence. We will be promoting our scholarship program as well as Oil Heat Cares, a not-for-profit foundation that assists needy persons and organizations with the replacement of their oil heating appliances. We’d like to showcase all of this to a larger audience and encourage them to join our group. We want everyone to know that we’re connected, and we recognize excellence within our industry — through our scholarship program and our annual Industry Awards.
The event itself is a very big “new happening.” We have joined two great events into one and thereby enhanced the learning opportunity for all segments of the industry. Putting together an event like this is a major undertaking; putting two shows together in a little over a year and having it be the success that it is, is a major testament to the leadership and staff of all organizations.
SC: Who are some of the key people/organizations/sponsors responsible for putting together what is sure to be an exciting show?
JG: We have many sponsors, such as Business Partner, CITGO Petroleum, and Premier Sponsor, Bioheat. OESP brings Premier Education Sponsors, Weil-McLain and Taco as well as a host of other sponsors. There are actually so many we encourage you to visit our website. It’s certainly a collaborative effort between AREE, OESP and Pennsylvania Petroleum. Merging three successful shows into one takes a great deal of effort and co-operation by all parties and that has happened.
SC: Do you all have anything already in the works for the 2017 expo?
JG: Yes, we do! May 19-23 we will be in Hershey, Pennsylvania. We have 100 percent of the lodge where OESP hosted its show for many years, and also have the Hershey Hotel.
For more information including sessions, accommodations, sponsors, events and more, visit http://easternenergyexpo.com.