Snow Conference coming to Kansas City

R. Kevin Clark
Editor, APWA Reporter

Public works professionals who have known the chaos caused by a heavy snowstorm will be helped by the ideas tossed out at the 45th Annual North American Snow Conference. The premier event for snow and ice management will take place April 17-20 at the Hyatt Regency Crown Center in Kansas City, Missouri.

Sponsored by the American Public Works Association and hosted by APWA's Kansas City Metro Chapter, the conference will bring together more than 1,000 participants to learn about the latest innovations, successful practices, and strategies in winter operations and snowfighting techniques.

"If you have the desire to gain ideas on how to improve your agency's winter maintenance program, the North American Snow Conference is the place to be. You'll find exhibitors, speakers, topics and attendees from all across North America. No matter what kind of information you are seeking, there are others in attendance that can provide what you're looking for. It's kind of your 'everything-type event.' You have education sessions, roundtables, exhibits, and interaction with others in the industry. It's the whole package." - Bret Hodne, Superintendent of Public Works, City of West Des Moines, Iowa

General sessions feature professional keynote speakers. Jeff Salz, Ph.D., will present "The Adventure of Change" at the Opening General Session on Sunday, April 17. Salz, an explorer, anthropologist, author and television personality, will lead the conference attendees through an exploration of the practical skills needed to navigate these times of unprecedented change. With remarkable tales of adventure and thought-provoking concepts, he continues to instill his audiences with fresh strategies and enthusiasm for life and career. Whether on a speaker's platform or a radio talk show, Salz's free-wheeling humor and profound sense of humanity have been heard around the world. His unique "life is an adventure" philosophy is fueling today's entrepreneurs to become tomorrow's greatest leaders.

The General Session on Monday, April 18 will be presented in the "talk show" format that has been so popular at the last few Snow Conferences. "Challenges We Face in the Winter Maintenance Business" will focus on the fact that in addition to battling the elements, public works departments are faced with dwindling budgets, equipment maintenance, and high expectations from the public. In this interactive session, a panel of public works and winter operations leaders will provide the lowdown on how they are meeting these challenges. The session will provide the attendees plenty of opportunities to participate in this question-and-answer format.

"I think it's terrific any time you can get this many professionals together who have so much knowledge and experience. During breaks or after the sessions, you can visit with them and find out how things work in their operation." - Jerry Pickett, Streets Superintendent, City of Greeley, Colorado

Motivational humorist Bryan Townsend will present the Closing General Session on Tuesday, April 19. Townsend's background includes a successful twenty-year career in broadcasting, serving as a play-by-play sports announcer, advertising salesman, talk show host, and radio station manager. He will use humor to deliver a message to Snow Conference attendees on customer service. Townsend refers to customer service as "the only job description you will ever need." According to him, "The thing customers want most of all is value, and value is the work product of good service." Conference attendees will have the opportunity to hear about how they can improve customer service.

More than 30 concurrent educational sessions will be presented as well, with titles ranging from "Outsmarting Black Ice!" to "Utilizing Melters for Snow Elimination." Those who attend each year reap the benefits of hearing professional and technical speakers and engaging in interactive sessions. Each year, the roundtable discussion groups are also very popular and provide an invaluable forum for networking and exchanging ideas with colleagues from around the country.

"If you don't give yourself the opportunity to attend one of these conferences, you'll never know what you're missing. All it takes is to walk the exhibit floor or bump into someone in the hallway outside one of the education sessions. You never know when you're going to find the answer to something that's been bothering you. I've been lucky enough to bring something useful back from each North American Snow Conference that I've attended, and the city has benefited from implementation of several new initiatives, especially brine usage and our customer outreach program which we learned about at the Snow Conference in Quebec." - Kevin Koch, Chief Highway Engineer, City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Attendees and exhibitors discuss winter maintenance products and services at last year's North American Snow Conference in Lexington, Kentucky.

In addition to the educational program offerings, the exhibit floor offers a unique learning experience. More than 120 companies will participate, demonstrating the very latest products, services, and technologies available in snow fighting and winter road maintenance. Plenty of non-compete exhibit time, when no educational sessions are scheduled, provides ample time to see what's new, participate in hands-on demonstrations, and network with manufacturers, distributors, and other snowfighters on the exhibit floor.

You won't want to miss the "Blues & BBQ" special event on Tuesday evening, April 19, when Brody Buster (a whiz at the harmonica) and his band entertain the crowd with the blues that Kansas City is famous for. And make plans to participate in one of two Technical Tours on Wednesday, April 20: either a tour of the Missouri Department of Transportation's Operations Facility and Kansas City Scout Traffic Management Center, or a tour of the City of Lee's Summit new solid waste and street maintenance facility including an anti-icing demonstration. The Technical Tour program is included in the registration fee as a part of the Snow Conference educational program.

"In over 28 years in the public works profession and over 20 years with APWA, the information I have accumulated at the Snow Conference has been among the most valuable of my career. I cannot recommend strongly enough that if you live in the Snow Belt, you are seriously handicapping your community's snowfighting abilities by not attending. Attend, share and participate. Applying those three words will ensure that you, too, can say without question that the Snow Conference is the best there is." - Brian Usher, Director of Public Works and Engineering, City of Zion, Illinois

"I always go to APWA's conference because it's the one snow event that's structured with a balance between education, technical and hands-on. It allows the people in the business to freely share at any level they want. The way the format is set up at the Snow Conference, it allows us to share common problems based on our environment-for example with small, medium and large municipalities." - Barry Belcourt, Director-Road Maintenance, City of Edmonton, Alberta

Participants at the anti-icing equipment demonstration during the Lexington Snow Conference.

The Kansas City Metro Chapter is proud to be hosting this year's conference in Kansas City, a great city with much to offer conference attendees—like our famous barbecue, for instance. Shops, restaurants, and attractions are abundant throughout the city, including the Crown Center shops, just a short walk from the Hyatt Regency Hotel. And keep in mind that APWA's headquarters office is just across the street from the Hyatt—so take a short break from the conference on the 15th or 16th and come up to the fifth floor and say hello to the staff.

Anyone responsible for snow removal and ice control would benefit from attending the 2005 North American Snow Conference. See the previous four pages for more details on the conference and a registration form. Or visit the Snow Conference website and register online at www.apwa.net/meetings/snow/2005. For more information or to receive a copy of the complete preview program, contact APWA at (800) 848-APWA or e-mail snow@apwa.net.

Kevin Clark can be reached at (800) 848-APWA or at kclark@apwa.net.