Network, learn, and set your business up for success this year
The 2024 Painting Contractors Association (PCA) EXPO is just around the corner, taking place in Orlando, Florida from February 26 to March 1. It’s one of the biggest national events of the year for painters—a convention “designed by painting contractors for painting contractors,” according to PCA Executive Director Nigel Costolloe.
“It doesn’t matter whether you’re a new or veteran painter,” Costolloe says. “There’s always something to be learned, friendships to be made, and experience to be shared. That’s the magic of the EXPO. Because we tend to rely on our own experience and expertise to guide us forward, hearing from someone else who thinks about a concept or practice in a very different way can act as a lightbulb moment that can help make significant shifts in our members’ companies, earnings, and success.”
Nick Slavik, Chair of PCA’s Board of Directors, says this year’s EXPO will be the biggest in the 140-year history of the PCA.
That’s evident in the event’s packed lineup, which includes a keynote address by national speaker Chad Hymas, motivational PaintED talks, thought-provoking panel discussions and educational sessions, a comprehensive trade show highlighting cutting-edge painting products and technology, and exclusive networking events. There are also specific educational channels available for contractors in certain demographics, including women in paint and Spanish-speaking contractors.
It’s all in service of the educational mission of the PCA, according to Maggie Kuyper, Chair of the PCA’s Education Committee.
“The Expo is a beautiful combination of community and education,” Kuyper says. “Each year I am eager to see old friends and make new friends in the industry, but also to hone my skills as a business owner and painting contractor. It’s amazing how much professional growth comes from the combo of community and training. This year’s curriculum contains a lot of panel discussions that are going to really encourage business analysis and evaluation.”
The 2024 EXPO will also continue the annual tradition of nightly hospitality events, including one hosted by Sherwin-Williams. This year’s Sherwin-Williams hospitality night will provide a great opportunity for painters to network and hang out together at a unique and exciting venue.
“Sherwin-Williams is a longtime National Champion supporter of PCA and the PCA EXPO, and I encourage contractors to attend this annual event,” says Jeff Winter, Vice President of Segment Marketing at Sherwin-Williams. “It’s a great opportunity for contractors to gather with their peers to learn about industry trends, new products, and listen to what others are doing to have success in their markets. Plus, Sherwin-Williams always puts on an awesome event at a signature venue wherever the Expo goes! We’ve done an event on an aircraft carrier, at a rodeo, in a car museum, and many other memorable locations. It’s a can’t-miss experience, and we hope to see you in Orlando in 2024!”
Many painters say the most rewarding part of the EXPO is the opportunity to network with other painters from across the country.
“When you enter into EXPO as a first-time attendee, you have to realize that everyone there is a friend and there for the same reason: to become a better contractor,” Kuyper says. “Whether the person next to you has a $10m third-generation business or a first-year company learning the basics of coatings, we are all pursuing continuous improvement. So don’t be fearful or let self-doubt creep in. The PCA community is a warm and safe place to learn and grow, in whatever area you need it.”
While the PCA community is tightknit, it’s also very welcoming to outsiders. Costolloe says they’ve implemented measures to make this year’s event extremely newcomer-friendly, including red-shirt “ambassadors” who can answer any question new attendees have and a Meet-and-Greet for first-time attenders with the PCA Chair. If you’ve never been to an EXPO before, there’s never been a better time to dive in.
Slavik gives this advice for first-time EXPO attendees: “Introduce yourself to as many people as possible. Get contact info. Settle in for 20 to 30-minute conversations. You’ll walk away with lifelong friends.”
“Even after 30 years, I continue to learn new things every time I attend EXPO, whether it’s about my business or about myself,” Costolloe says.
This year’s EXPO should be no different, with a packed lineup of events, abundant opportunities to network and learn from other painters, and new additions that make this year’s event more newcomer-friendly than ever before. Whether you’re an industry veteran or just getting started, the PCA EXPO can help you take the next step forward with your business.
“With each edition, the EXPO only grows in the number and variety of participants,” says Freddy Carrillo, Vice President of Marketing for Sherwin-Williams. “PCA membership includes professional contractors of all sizes and tenures—from the large, established companies to the young upstarts—and they’ve done a remarkable job of making an event that feels inviting to everyone. I think painters of all backgrounds can benefit from attending the EXPO.”