The Cooperator's 25th Annual Co-op & Condo Expo A Networking, Learning and Information Milestone

The Cooperator's Co-op & Condo Expo celebrated its 25th anniversary show in fine style with hundreds of exhibitors and educational opportunities for co-op and condo boards and residents throughout the tri-state area. Since 1987, the Expo is a fixture on the business calendar of vendors, service providers, board members, building staff and residents.

The 2012 Expo was no exception nearly 3,000 attendees packed the Hilton New York on April 17th to visit some 300 exhibit booths and take in this year's lineup of informative educational seminars.

“Obviously our goal is to present attendees with information and products that will make running their buildings easier and more efficient,” says Yale Robbins, president of Yale Robbins, Inc., Expo producer and publisher of The Cooperator, “but we also put a great deal of thought into the bigger picture, anticipating trends and trying to broaden and build on our offerings from one year to the next.”

Henry Robbins, executive vice president and director of sales for Yale Robbins, Inc., added that despite a sluggish economy, overall attendance and interest in the Expo—both from vendors and attendees—has grown each year since the show was launched 25 years ago. “It's really our exhibitors and our attendees who make this show what it is,” says Robbins. “Their enthusiasm and interest is contagious—the fact that the event grows and draws more people each year is proof of that.”

Learning Curve

Besides exhibits, one of The Cooperator’s annual Expo mainstays is the day’s seminar lineup. The seminars kicked off with The Daylight Savings Company's “Energy Efficiency and Sustainability: How You Can Profit from New York City Regulations.” The panelists—Frank Lauricella, Adam Boese and Ken Camilleri of The Daylight Savings Company and Max Joel of the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA)—told how New York City local laws and regulations play a role in achieving energy and maintenance savings. Energy audits, benchmarking and oil-gas conversion efforts in line with New York City’s series of green initiatives were addressed.

The second seminar featured Verizon’s Tom Nugent and Pasquale Zicchinelli discussing “Living a Borderless Lifestyle in the Multifamily World: Applications and Emergent Technologies for Co-ops & Condos.” Homeowners have made voice, video and data services a priority. “If you're going to put technology in your condo or co-op you want to make sure that the technology doesn't come back to bite you. Today when people are looking at properties for sale you'll see prospective buyers with their cell phones out checking for signals, and asking what kind of Internet speeds are available,” Nugent says. This interactive presentation discussed balancing owners’ technological expectations vs. what is financially realistic for boards.

The legal/management team of David J. Byrne, Esq., a partner at Herrick, Feinstein LLP and Jay Cohen of A. Michael Tyler Realty, attracted an SRO crowd for their seminar discussion about “Legal Lessons—Who to Call, How to Budget, and What Your Board Can Learn from Others.” This seminar discussed the creation, function and importance of governing documents and rules. The differences between co-op and condo ownership, governance and board responsibilities were examined. “When you become a shareholder or a unit owner in a co-op or condominiums,” said Byrne, “it's a contract and you are bound by the governing documents of the association.” The use of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) was a highlight. “The majority of disputes, perhaps 90%, can be resolved through proper communication,” panelist Jay Cohen of Manhattan-based A. Michael Tyler Realty said. “If you resolve your dispute by ADR,” added Byrne, “you can create an outcome that actually is useful for you in your building, one that a judge is not legally able to give you.”

Mortgage Refinancing

Financing your building’s underlying mortgage was the theme of Meridian Capital Group’s Steve Geller’s talk. Geller related how boards and buildings can save money by refinancing. He also discussed mortgage loan options for the board/management team—an important issue, especially in today's challenging economy.

“The fear of an interest-only loan today is mitigated by several factors,” said Geller. “You should take a look at it because it's a very interesting way to address significant capital improvement today without turning your maintenance upside down.”

Keep ahead of scheduled capital improvements. “You have to put the money into the co-op to repair the roof, to repair the elevators, the windows, the boilers, the lobby. You have to make those improvements to maintain the value of the asset,” Geller said.

Best Financial Practices

Ed Wilkin, Annette Murray, and Jules Frankel from the accounting firm of Wilkin & Guttenplan wrapped up the last seminar of the day discussing “Top Ten Financial Best Practices for Your Building.” This late-day seminar also attracted an overflow crowd eager to get some money-saving tips to take back with them to their boards and buildings.

Budgeting is a matter of common sense, said Wilkin, who believes that the key to proper budgeting is for a board to be realistic in its planning.

Gifts & Giveaways

Exhibitors come to the Expo to get their products and services in front of thousands of building decision-makers; attendees come for information, education and of course, prizes. Exhibitor-sponsored prizes at the 2012 show included gift cards, air purifiers, iPads, a host of vendor services, and the grand prize, a $3,500 contribution to one lucky building's reserve fund, courtesy of Yale Robbins, Inc. and The Cooperator.

The cyber cafe and food court provided an oasis for guests and attendees were also able to seek advice from a distinguished array of residential industry professionals who generously donated their time in the advice booth area.

Next Year’s Expo…

Even before the 2012 Expo closed shop and exhibitors started taking down their booths, planning and preparation began for the April 16, 2013 show, which promises to be bigger and more intensive than ever. Stay tuned to www.coopexpo.com for dates, more information, important deadlines and online registration.

Liam P. Cusack is the associate editor of The Cooperator.