Watershape University rolled into Dallas, Tex., for the 2021 International Pool|Spa|Patio and Deck Expo in Dallas, Tex., Nov. 13-18 at the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center with high expectations for a strong showing for the industry’s first return to major trade shows since the beginning of the pandemic. The event would prove an almost unqualified success.
There were big question marks surrounding the IPSPDE in Dallas with organizers betting there would be pent-up demand for in-person events and that health measures would stave off concerns about COVID that had essentially shut down trade shows for more than a year. The former would prove to be the case.
Attendance and traffic on the show floor was strong with attendees and exhibitors alike expressing enthusiasm for the event. There was indeed an atmosphere of optimism for the show as attendees filled exhibit booths and seminar rooms.
WU’s palette of educational offerings reflected that upbeat mood with classes filled to near capacity. The Wolfpack presented three long-form paid classes — Construction 4111 Advanced Watershape Construction, Engineering 4311 Advanced Fluid Engineering Workshop, and Design 2211Essential Principles of Design Workshop. All three courses required prerequisites, with that training available through WU’s online learning platform.
Pre-conference course attendance was rock-solid with students investing in their knowledge and professionalism. There were two primary “beyond the classroom” events to foster goodwill and team spirit. Thanks to WU Corporate Engagement Colleague, Twinscape North America, LLC, the students saw moveable floor technology in action at the historic Kimpton Pittman Hotel as they socialized and enjoyed cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. The night before the EXPO opened WU staged its first-ever “tailgate party”, generously sponsored by Carecraft, with over 200 guests joining the WU staff and faculty for a rousing evening of food, libation and conversation.
The Wolfpack presented a slate of short, free seminars on both the show floor and in classrooms, all of which drew strong attendance. WU also sponsored one of two keynote speeches — a brilliant presentation from Wallace J Nichols, author of Blue Mind Nichols praised the industry for its work bringing water into people’s lives and challenged those in attendance to embrace the power of water to transform lives one by one, and thereby, the whole of society. A partner of WU, “J” spent most show hours in the WU Booth, greeting people who heard the keynote, wanted to learn more, and get a signed copy of Blue Mind.
WU shared its booth with with Ask the Masters – bringing together many of the key influencers in the industry. The booth bustled with with vibrant discussions about the industry, education, leading-edge projects and ongoing challenges of designing and building watershapes of all types. The energy and sense of active engagement were palpable as the show hours flew by with the flurry of activity.
The one and only down point was – as has been widely reported – on the morning of the 12th, we received word that our friend and colleague, Grant Smith, passed away. The unexpected and sudden loss stunned WU’s faculty and staff; but, in honor of Smith, a Marine veteran known for his determination and spirit, everyone pulled together and carried on with the event.
Overall, the event demonstrated that industry trade shows are alive and well, and poised for continued success. Next year’s Expo is slated for Las Vegas, where the Wolfpack will again be there presenting its unique brand of topflight instruction and industry leadership.