Shaunica Jayson and Scott Lynch

Previewing BOILER 2024's Mile-High Goals

April 1, 2024
*NEW PODCAST* Boiler manufacturers are headed for the Rockies. ABMA tells us what they'll find there!

This spring, HPAC 'On the Air' welcomed back Scott Lynch, President and CEO of the American Boiler Manufacturers Association (ABMA), based in Vienna VA. He was joined by ABMA Director of Communications Shaunica Jayson. Together, the pair updated us on the many things the association now has going, first and foremost, BOILER 2024.

  • Learn about ABMA's new Women In the Boiler Industry (WIBI) initiative here.

HPAC On The Air: Scott and Shaunica, welcome back. It's been a year since we last had you on the podcast. And at that time we spoke leading up to your big Manufacturing Conference. This time, we're looking ahead straight at BOILER 2024 in Denver at the start of May. So please tell us a little bit more about that event and what attendees should expect to see there.

Scott Lynch: Thanks for having us back, Rob. We're really excited about BOILER 2024 and we're ramping up at a rapid pace. At this point, we're less than two months out from the event. As many people who listen to this podcast probably know, we launched BOILER 2022 as a first-of-its-kind event, a trade show and conference focused on the entire boiler supply chain, which had never been done before. 

We had had this thought that we have events that we go to where the boiler industry is a piece of it, but it's not the full breadth of the event. So, can we create an event that brings the entire boiler supply chain together? From the boiler manufacturer, all the way to the end user? An event that brings attendees in and gives them training, gives them opportunities to engage with all the various manufacturing companies?

Two years ago, we had a great event the first time in Dallas at BOILER 2022. For that, we had about 950 attendees and 75 exhibitors. But today, we're going into BOILER 2024 in just eight weeks, and we already have 105 exhibitors, plus a huge increase in new members and exhibitors. In addition, we are tracking well ahead in terms of attendees as well. The momentum is there. The excitement is there. Our members are promoting it. It's going to be a great event and build on what we did before. Shaunica can speak a bit more on the promotion aspect.

Shaunica Jayson: Thanks, Scott. And thanks, Rob, for having me back. I'll just touch a little bit on what we did differently this time. We're trying to grow the show, trying to improve and make things bigger and better. So this time, some of the things we are really touting about Denver is that this is a much larger expo hall. As Scott mentioned, we have more exhibitors and we have different sizing options. This time we're also having a shuttle that will pick up attendees on the afternoon of May 1st, and the morning of May 2nd. So that's a new feature.
We also will have boiler room tours. We weren't able to do that last time because we were coming out of Covid. But this time, we will have boiler room tours of the Gaylord Rockies Resort, and also at Denver International Airport. So, we're doing some really neat things. We'll be having a Members Only lounge, and a Recharge and Relaxation Station. Food functions in the exhibit hall that will help us keep everyone there as much as we can. And the Mobile Boiler Parking Lot is back. But this time it's adjacent to the exhibit hall and it will be much larger than what we had in Dallas. Scott, would you like to talk about that?
Lynch: Well, the first time we did the mobile boiler lot, it was because we were just coming out of Covid and trying to figure out how we could get our attendees to see more of a boiler room. So we needed to do that because we didn't have any other options. But now we've actually expanded, so it's not just going to be the equipment of the mobile boiler companies. There's also going to be auxiliary equipment there that you can also rent. I think we're going to have an ammonia tank and a some other things, as well, plus numerous sizes of mobile boilers in the parking lot. So our goal is to bring people together to have a full boiler experience. So we'll have education-related topics on things like hydrogen for the boiler industry, on how to purchase a rental boiler, and many other topics. From taking tours to being on the exhibit floor, the experience will be all in one. That's kind of the goal here.
HPAC: Looking back at BOILER 2022, it sounds like you've already made a number of adjustments. How did you go about learning from that inaugural event? 
Lynch: Well, we got attendee and exhibitor feedback from surveys and just word of mouth from people attending. But the main thing that drove this was that we have an amazing advisory committee, which is led by Eric Graham from Webster Combustion. And this committee really helped us to brainstorm what customers are going to want to hear, what they're going to want to do. So we've been bouncing ideas off of them. 
Immediately following BOILER '22, we brought that whole group back together, about 15 to 20 people on the advisory committee. We tried to get various levels of people within their companies and across all the product areas, and they gave us feedback. This is what worked. This is what didn't. Can we do this differently? Can we do that differently? Then we also had a brainstorming session just for the new show, where we said, "These are the ideas from staff based on what we learned. What are the ideas that you have in this room?"

Also, six months before the event, we brought them to the location, walked the site and said, "OK, what do you guys think? How do we reengage?" So we changed up our receptions completely this time because we realized that there was a desire to have flexibility, to bring people together in more casual settings, and then in group settings. And so the advisory committee was a huge help.

HPAC: Your BOILER 2024 keynote speaker is a bit outside the box. Please tell us more about that. 

Lynch: Well, Shaunica was instrumental in making that happen, so I'll let her answer.
Jayson: Thanks, Scott. Yes, we're really excited about the speaker. His name is Travis Mills and he's a retired U.S. Army Staff Sergeant and "a recalibrated warrior." He's also a motivational speaker, actor, author, and a big advocate for veterans and amputees. He, himself, is a quadruple amputee. So we looked around and we tried various speakers, but Travis came to us through some recommendations and we felt like his story was so touching and so moving. His motto is, "Never Give Up. Never Quit." And we felt like that really applies to anyone and everyone, no matter what job you hold, no matter what industry you're in. So, we really felt like his story is going to motivate and really touch our attendees.
Lynch: Granted, it's not a boiler-related presentation. But the way that we looked at it was is that you wanted a keynote speaker who was going to be uplifting and who was going to be motivational and kind of set the tone for the event... They're going to hear plenty of boiler presentations over the three days. So having one session where you hear about a great story is something that I think people will really enjoy.
Jayson: Just touching back for a moment to some of the feedback that we had gotten and things that we are doing differently this time. We're also really excited because this time we felt like we should expand and have more panels. And that kind of spurred our ideas to do an industry leader panel and also a Women In the Boiler Industry panel. So Scott, do you want to touch on the leadership panel?
Lynch: Sure. So, we were looking at the agenda and asking, 'Where can we add some value?' And initially on the second day, we didn't have any event where we bring everybody together in a general session form. And the one feedback that we received was they want to learn more about what's going on in the industry, not just specific topics within the educational sessions. So we're pulling together leaders of the industry. I think we're going to have about four panel members, and we're going to do a trends presentation and kind of a discussion more of a Q&A about what's going on in the sector. And we're going to be announcing our speakers for that soon.
We'll have different leaders from different parts of the sector and really dive into topics like what are they seeing for the future, what are they seeing now? What has changed over the last couple of years to give people some more insights on the flow of our industry and where we've come to and where we've been. And so that's a new feature that'll be on that second morning that we didn't have before. We think it will certainly enhance the experience for the attendee.
HPAC: Shaunica touched on this before, but please tell us more about the Women In the Boiler Industry initiative that ABMA has just launched. How has WIBI come about? 
Jayson:  Sure. It's funny, but when you mentioned feedback before, that's what happened here. I had two people approach me at BOILER 2022 asking where are the women events? And that got me thinking, "You're right." You see so many of these shows now and where they'll have luncheons or certain sessions that are targeted for specific groups. So I approached Scott and said, "What do you think about having a session or a panel of some sort that is focused on women in our industry?"
Especially because just in my almost seven years at ABMA, I've seen the growth of more women in our industry, so it's definitely a trend. Scott said, "Let's do it." So, last spring, we approached Nancy Simoneu of Groupe Simoneu. She is ABMA's current vice chair, and she loved the idea. She was on board and it kind of took off from there. So, we recently launched the logo and did a press release about WIBI, as you know.
But as we were thinking through it all, we felt like we don't want this just to be at a show. We want to take it offline and have it continue throughout the year. So we felt it was best to do that as a professional community. And then at all our various events, we can have WIBI functions, as well. So we felt that BOILER 2024 would be the perfect opportunity to have this inaugural WIBI event, which is going to be a luncheon and a panel. Currently, I am moderating the panel and we will have four panelists, which we just recently announced.
The panel will include Nancy Simoneu, and Tricia Staible, president of Robinson Fans and an ABMA board member, plus Kimberly Adkins, chief boiler inspector for the Commonwealth of Virginia and the only female U.S. chief boiler inspector, and Teresa Melfi, a Lincoln Electric Technical Fellow who holds over 50 welding patents. So this group of women are trailblazers for our industry. There's lots of information that they will be able to provide to anyone in attendance about some of their struggles, how they got to where they are. We are just giving them the opportunity to tell their story. 
Lynch: I was passionate around this for two reasons. One is that we all know that manufacturing has to diversify its recruitment. We have to be looking other places beyond our normal avenues, and this is one way that we can start looking at that. And if we can show women in the industry, hopefully it will motivate other women to join. Also, I think that these people can show career paths. They're not just showing their one job. They're saying how they got there and who got them there. And so that's where I thought, 'Wow, this is really cool.' 
And I think that people don't even believe that we have a lot of women in the industry or that this is a growing area. And I think people need to realize that and we need to celebrate it.
HPAC: In the same vein with Next Generation outreach, I recall ABMA had several local students in Dallas attend BOILER 2022 a couple years ago. This year, I believe you have students coming from Pickens Technical College in Aurora, Colorado. And as I understand it, they are building something for this event. Could you talk to us a little bit about that?
Lynch: Sure. After the last event, we talked with our advisory committee and everybody was just throwing out ideas and saying, well, what if they did a project for us? Or what if we gave them some challenge to complete for the show? What can we do? And so we were in the room with two of the instructors from Pickens who had come to our advisory committee meeting, and somebody asked "What if they made a BOILER 2024 logo for us, and welded it and brought it to the show? We said, "Yeah, that might work." And so the students at Pickens actually are doing that now. The machining class and the welding class are building 'BOILER 2024' logo out of metal aluminum and other parts. Some of our local members supplied the materials and we will display the finished product at the show. 
Jayson: Actually, I think the HVAC program is involved, too.
Lynch: Yes. So what was cool about this is that not only are we giving them a project where they're learning how to weld and learning how to machine and doing some things that maybe they don't normally do in class. They're also going to be able to come to the event and display their work and be proud of what they're accomplishing. So they'll be there displaying their work, networking with the other manufacturers for jobs and internships, but it's another way to engage the next generation students. And we're trying to expand that and figure out what the next steps are for that.
So it's just one more way that we're trying to expand the impact of BOILER 2024 and including the next generation, getting some students interested and excited about us as we go from city to city each time. That's another step in the right direction.

For much more, visit www.BOILER2024.com.