You know you’re deep in the weeds of what my blog colleague Jim Plavecsky calls “busy season” when you finally blog about a major event you attended three weeks ago.

I’m talking about the 53rd annual World Millwork Alliance (WMA) convention and trade show, which took place earlier this month in Charlotte, N.C. It was wonderful to catch up with folks in this important industry – and they put on an informative, engaging show.

The event began with a great day of educational sessions. First up was a look at millennials in the workplace. If it sometimes feels like young people are everywhere you go, it’s because they are. Did you know that millennials currently make up slightly more than a third of the U.S. workforce? By 2020, they’ll be 50 percent; by 2025, they’ll be 75 percent.

“They are the largest and most influential generation of adults in our history,” said Diane Thielfoldt of The Learning Cafe, who hosted a roundtable discussion with three millennials who work in the millwork industry.

Next came a truly entertaining — and sobering — look at the state of the economy now, next year and a little more than a decade into the future. Alan Beaulieu, the president of ITR Economics, a research and consulting firm based in Manchester, N.H., had the audience in stitches during many parts of his presentation, but then brought everyone crashing back down to earth with his dour prediction of a depression in 2030. That’s right — a depression. Not a recession. (We’re going to have a mild one of those in 2019, by the way.)

Finally, Tracy Rogers of Keystone Certifications and Jessica Ferris, WMA’s director of codes and standards, discussed product certification and the (relatively new) WMA 100 standard for side-hinged exterior door systems.

The next day, WMA brought in Andy Papathanassiou, a NASCAR executive who helped revolutionize how pit crews operate, to deliver the keynote address. He talked about applying “athletic thinking” to running a business.

“A pit crew is like any high-performance team or business unit,” he said. “You need the right perspective, dedicated players and a good system. Most spectators don’t realize the coordination and timing required of the pit crew. There are potentially, hundreds of thousands of dollars on the line when a NASCAR Sprint Cup car pulls into the pits. Our six-person crew is expected to change four seventy-five pound tires and fill the car with eighteen gallons of gas, in thirteen seconds. At the same time, there are forty-two teams out there that are trying to do it better than us.”

Sound anything like your business?

After Papathanassiou’s presentation, the exhibition hall opened. And as one attendee told me, it’s become a can’t-miss destination for doors.

“This is probably the best show in North America for the door industry,” said Will Cloutier, JRC Machinery’s general manager.

On a personal note, the WMA show in Charlotte was unique for me in that I got to return to my home town and visit my family, including my father, who has been working in the glass industry for more than 50 years and is still going to the office every day at the age of 81.

If fenestration gives people that kind of longevity, then I’m staying put.

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