The Fourth Annual Chicagoland Cooperator Expo Valuable Insight and Education for Boards

The Fourth Annual Chicagoland Cooperator Expo

The Chicagoland Cooperator’s Condo, HOA, Co-op & Apartment Expo brought more than 2,000 people to the Navy Pier October 28th to meet with nearly 300 exhibitors, attend informative seminars and have their questions answered by professionals.

Attendees not only learned about new products and services, networked with hundreds of service providers but also they also had a good time socializing and exchanging information with their fellow board members and peers.

A Day to Remember

The all-in-one-day event packed the aisles of the Navy Pier Convention Center and brought together Chicagoland’s best property managers, board members, real estate professionals, shareholders, service providers, vendors and unit owners all under one roof.

As in previous years, the attendees were impressed by the diversity of information and quality of the seminars available at the Expo. Chicago board member Terry Usher had a great time learning new things and experiencing what types of services and vendors were available for condo communities. It also was an eye-opener in other ways, too. “It gave me a better understanding of the work that is required of me as a board member.”

Board member Mary Reeves, who lives in Elmhurst, attended for the first time and said she certainly would be back. “This was my first time attending. It was very useful as a new board member. I definitely will attend again.”

Attendees met with exhibitors showcasing every product and service available to the condo, HOA, and co-op market.

Jim Stoller, president of The Building Group, exhibited at the show and also was a seminar panelist, holding forth on the topic of conflict resolution. Stoller said the show is valuable because it gives attendees a great opportunity to learn something new and gives exhibitors a chance to connect with the very board members that need their goods and services. “It's a fantastic experience,” Stoller said.

Erica Horndasch, a property manager, pointed to the education sessions and the ask-the-expert free advice booths as a reason to attend. Attendees often waited in line to pose their questions to the assembled attorneys, property managers and financial professionals donating their time at the event.

“In each of our shows, we strive to present attendees with information and products that will make running their communities easier and more efficient,” said Yale Robbins, president of Yale Robbins, Inc., Expo producer and publisher of The Chicagoland Cooperator. “And 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.”

A Learning Experience

More than a thousand people attended one of the five condo seminars and three apartment management seminars presented at the show. A standing-room-only crowd looked at all aspects of the recent precedent-setting legal case, the Palm II court decision, which sets parameters on how boards can conduct meetings, hold quorums, maintain confidentiality, conduct voting and avoid any breaches of fiduciary duty. In “Understanding the New Rules in a Post-Palm II Era,” Advantage Management’s Adam Stolberg and Levenfield Pearlstein attorney Howard S. Dakoff, discussed the ramifications of the legal decision and how this important case affects board operations.

“The seminar on Palm II was essential for board members,” echoed board member Caroline Cracraft from Chicago. Property manager Mary Dahlman agreed. “The educational seminars were terrific, especially those updating us on the changes in the law.”

Associa’s Christine Evans, CPM, PCAM, had her audience’s rapt attention when she presented “Can You Hear Me Now? Improving Board/Management Communication,” a seminar that helped attendees learn how to cultivate a productive and positive relationship with their management team. Any board member will tell you that effective communication between the manager and the board makes for a smoother running community.

Stoller joined with Kovitz Shifrin Nesbit attorney Robert B. Kogen, and Frost Ruttenberg & Rothblatt’s Kimberly Waite on “Dealing with the Difficult: Avoiding and Resolving Conflicts,” which taught board members, owners, renters and staff how to resolve conflict so that expensive litigation can be avoided.

Energy savings was another big issue on the minds of board members and property managers. DRF Trusted Property Solutions’ Scott Schnurr hosted an expert panel that included Sharon Madigan of ComEd, Paul Isaac of Franklin Energy, Peter Santangelo of Community Advantage and Julia Bussell, the board president of the Chatham Park Village Cooperative. This seminar gave attendees vital information on what incentives were available to their building communities to help them both conserve energy and save money in the process.

Also along the themes of managing and saving money, the session “How to Bulletproof Your Association,” by Association Evaluation’s Sara Benson gave attendees sound, actionable advice to help their boards navigate through the financial problems that typically affect condo associations. Benson is also the co-author of the book “Escaping Condo Jail,” which explores the myths and exposes the truths about condominium association living. The book also provides a handy guide and advice on what it takes to be successful financially and operationally.

Apartment Seminars

The Chicagoland Cooperatoralso hosted three information-packed seminars specifically geared toward apartment building managers and rental building owners.

“Roaches, Bedbugs & Mice, Oh My!” instructed attendees on their legal and financial responsibilities as a building owner or landlord to provide a habitable, pest-free building. The second seminar, “Collections & Evictions: What You Need to Know!” helped attendees to navigate the complicated issues involved in landlord/tenant relations, collections, evictions, the rights of the landlord and the tenant.

Finally building managers/owners learned the ins-and-outs of building maintenance in a seminar entitled, “Maintenance Matters—Who's Responsible? There are always questions when it comes to building maintenance and in this session experts discussed what are the responsibilities of the building owner/manager as contrasted with those of the tenant.

Free Advice & More

One of the Expo’s prime attractions are the free advice booths hosted by The Chicagoland Cooperatorand staffed by a rotating roster of industry professionals throughout the day. Attendees waited in line to question experts about association finances, board policies and day-to-day management issues.

$2,500 Reserve Fund Giveaway

No trade show is complete without giveaways and raffles. One lucky board member is going to receive this year’s reserve fund prize giveaway, courtesy of The Chicagoland Cooperatorand Yale Robbins Publications LLC. In a drawing held after registration is closed, one Expo attendee will win a $2,500 contribution to their building or association's reserve fund. A check for the winnings will be made payable to the winner’s building, care of their management company. Only board members qualified to enter the reserve fund drawing, and attendance at the Expo was required for eligibility. Information on the winner will be announced.

Mark your calendar for the next Chicagoland Cooperator’s Condo, HOA & Co-op Expo, which will take place at the Navy Pier on Wednesday, November 18, 2015.

Plans are also in the works for a spring Chicagoland Expo on Saturday, May 9, 2015 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont.    

Debra A. Estock is managing editor of The Chicagoland Cooperator.