Education, Information and Invaluable Insights Recapping The Cooperator's 2008 Co-op & Condo Expo

For over two decades, The Cooperator’s annual Co-op & Condo Expo has been a perennial save-the-date for anyone and everyone associated with the tri-state area’s co-op and condo building communities. Since 1987, vendors, service providers, board members, building staff members and residents alike have been coming to the Expo to learn about new products and technologies, exchange information, network and improve how their buildings are run.

The 2008 Expo was no exception—nearly 4,000 attendees packed three exhibition floors of the Hilton New York on Tuesday, April 29th to browse in nearly 300 exhibit booths spread over three floors and listen in on a half-dozen educational seminars.

“The Cooperator’s goal in presenting our annual Expo is to provide a gathering place for managing agents, board members, and other professionals to meet with vendors and service providers, network with colleagues in the industry, and gain information and insight to help them do their work,” says Yale Robbins, president of Yale Robbins, Inc. and publisher of The Cooperator. “We make it a point to constantly broaden and diversify our offerings, and the fact that the event grows and evolves each year indicates that we’re succeeding.”

Old Favorites, New Offerings

While the 2008 Expo brought new offerings to the table, there were repeat appearances by annual favorites. On the top floor of the show in Americas Hall II, the always-popular cyber café did brisk business all day, and an array of distinguished industry professionals generously donated their time at two free advice booths, where Expo attendees could get input on their questions about legal issues, building and individual finance, building management, and insurance.

Of course, no Expo would be complete without drawings and giveaways, and the 2008 event was no exception. This year, the door prizes included American Express gift cards, iPods and electronic products, event tickets, and the Grand Prize, a month’s worth of free maintenance, courtesy of The Cooperator—which was won by Patrice M. Kane of Bronxville.

“Obviously we expect a strong turnout for each Expo,” says Henry Robbins, vice president and director of sales for Yale Robbins, Inc., “but every year we’re blown away by the enthusiasm of both our exhibitors and our attendees. At the end of the day, the show is just a fantastic opportunity for people working in the co-op and condo arena to meet face-to-face with their colleagues and expand their knowledge and resources.”

This year also saw the return of The Cooperator’s Co-op/Condo Bookstore on the top floor of the exhibit hall. The bookstore was stocked with a wide array of titles on building operations and apartment management and New York specific titles like Forgotten New York: Views of a Lost Metropolis by Kevin Walsh, The New York Co-op Bible by Sylvia Shapiro, and the ever-popular classic Robert’s Rules of Order, a must-have for anybody who’s ever tried to run a board or shareholders’ meeting.

Expanding Education

A staple of The Cooperator’s annual Expo is the event’s lineup of extremely popular educational seminars. For this year’s Expo, six different topics were presented by an array of industry, organizational, and government experts.

Kicking off the day was “Secrets to a Productive Board/Management Relationship,” presented by representatives of the Federation of New York Housing Cooperatives and Condominiums (FNYHC) and the New York Association of Realty Managers (NYARM). After the panelists—including FNYHC executive director Greg Carlson and NYARM director Margie Russell, among others—offered their thoughts on such issues as what makes an effective, collaborative building administration and what boards can do to avoid making common mistakes, audience members were invited to ask questions of the assembled experts. And ask they did—the line for the audience microphone stretched around the back of the seminar room as people raised questions about everything from how often a board should meet to how to oust a sub-par managing agent.

Next came New York and New Jersey-based law firm Stark & Stark, presenting “Avoiding Litigation in a Complex World” to a packed audience. Shareholder attorney and firm member David J. Byrne, Esq. keynoted the seminar, which offered attendees advice on how to stop lawsuits before they start, as well as how to mediate conflicts between boards and managers, boards and residents, and between board members themselves. Also discussed were laws and regulations governing how and when buildings can legally change or update their governing documents.

After that, Meridian Capital Group’s Steve Geller presented “Understanding the Current Mortgage Market,” addressing one of the most pressing topics facing any homeowner or prospective homebuyer in today’s less-than-stable banking climate. His presentation discussed the big questions facing building administrators and buyers, and offered tools and information that might make surviving the current market easier.

At noon, Verizon’s Christopher Levendos delivered his company’s presentation, “Get Connected: Tips on Wiring Multifamily Buildings,” which provided information on how fast, user-friendly connectivity can be integrated, improved, and upgraded in residential buildings to increase value and broaden amenities portfolios.

After lunch, architect Douglas J. Lister, designer Jonathan Baron and energy expert Lewis M. Kwit presented “Managing Capital Improvement Projects.” The seminar focused on how building administrators can best prepare their communities for large-scale construction, improvement and design projects—both financially and mentally—and how boards and managers can stay on top of the work being done, both to monitor quality and contain project costs.

Later in the afternoon, Angus Energy’s Philip Baratz presented “Strategies for Controlling Your Energy Costs in an Inflated and Uncertain Energy Market.” This final seminar offered attendees concrete tips on how to balance energy usage with today’s increased fuel costs—something that everyone should be concerned about, regardless of the season.

Overall, the seminars were well attended, giving audience members plenty of helpful information and food for thought—as well as resources to call upon to help their own buildings. Seminar CD’s are available for purchase by calling The Cooperator at 212-683-5700 or by emailing joanna@cooperator.com.

Next Year’s Expo…

Each year, the Co-op & Condo Expo reasserts its status as the premier event of its kind in our city and region. Next year, the Expo will return to the Hilton New York on Tuesday, April 7th with an even more diverse array of exhibitors, another roster of enlightening educational seminars, and more business networking opportunities per square-foot than any other such trade show in the region. Stay tuned to www.coopexpo.com for more information, important deadlines, and online registration. We look forward to seeing you there!

Hannah Fons is associate editor of The Cooperator.

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