The Third Annual Chicagoland Cooperator Expo Providing Networking, Education and Answers

More than 2,000 people came to the Navy Pier even though the winds were a bit chilly and a threat of snow and sleet was in the air. The sun shone brightly as attendees flocked to The Chicagoland Cooperator’s 3rd Annual Condo, HOA, Co-op & Apartment Expo to meet with nearly 250 exhibitors, attend seminars and have their questions answered by professionals. They not only learned about new products and services, networked with hundreds of service providers but also socialized and exchanged information with their fellow board members and peers.

All in One Day

The all-in-one-day event at the Navy Pier Convention Center brought together Chicagoland’s best property managers, board members, real estate professionals, shareholders, service providers, vendors and unit owners all under one roof.     Many attendees were impressed with the diversity of information available at the Expo. “I have learned so much today. My questions were answered. The seminars really helped,” said Susan Pierson, a board member from Greektown.

“On every aisle I met with people who wanted to answer my questions. This show made my work so much easier. Plus! I got the directory of services. I have the tools I need to do my job more effectively and help my building. My fellow board members should have been here today...I'll make sure they come next year. Today has been so productive,” exclaimed Pierson.

“This is a great show,” said Jim Stoller, president of The Building Group, an exhibitor at the show, who also was a seminar panelist. “As a provider of services, it's a great opportunity to connect with board members, tell them about services available and answer their questions. It's a fantastic experience,” Stoller said.

Good information is critical and The Chicagoland Cooperator’s Condo, HOA & Co-op Expo provided the resources and learning tools board members and industry professionals need to stay ahead of the curve. Attendees filled the aisles to meet with exhibitors showcasing every product and service available to the condo, HOA, and co-op market.

“Obviously our goal is to present attendees with information and products that will make running their communities easier and more efficient,” says Yale Robbins, president of Yale Robbins, Inc., Expo producer and publisher of The Chicagoland 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.”

“Attendees can find everything here from asbestos abatement to window replacement,” said Henry Robbins, executive vice president and sales director of Yale Robbins, Inc.

An Information-Packed Day

Attendees were not only there to network but to learn. Educational seminars attracted standing-room-only crowds as nearly a thousand people attended many of the day’s seminars. The instructional offerings started early with a pre-show seminar entitled “Fair Housing Laws...Is Your Association Being Fair?,” hosted by the Illinois chapter of Community Associations Institute (CAI-IL) and presented by Lara Anderson, Esq. and Stuart Fullett, Esq. from the law firm of Fullett Rosenlund Anderson, PC. These experts discussed what associations need to learn about who is protected under the Fair Housing Act.

Marcia E. Caruso, CPM, RAM, owner of Caruso Management Group, Inc.; Mark Cantey, CPA of Cantey Associates and Patrick Costello, Esq. of the law firm of Keay & Costello were next up presenting a tell-all session entitled, “Who Knew? Practical Truths from HOA Pros.” This seminar offered attendees vital information from attorneys, managers, and CPAs about internal financial and procedural controls, how condos and associations can pay for goods and services, borrowing from reserves, and other important operational issues.

“I learned so much today,” said Tim Fitzgerald, a board member from Chicago. “These guys really know what they're talking about. Next year I'm going to have to get to the room early so I can get a seat.”

DRF Trusted Property Solutions discussed the always timely issue of energy efficiency and sustainability with their seminar entitled “Go Green, Save Green.” DRF’s expert panel discussed what government programs, subsidies and incentives are available to help a community to save energy and money. The experts explored exciting new technologies, financing, tax credits and rebate opportunities.

Donald Kekstadt, AMS, PCAM, the president of Vanguard Community Management, and Stephanie Skelley, CMCA, AMS, vice president of operations, Legum & Norman, Mid-West, spoke to a packed room on the topic, “Solving Your Association’s Challenges,” sponsored by Associa. In this session, attendees came to learn what every board can do to safeguard community funds and head off fraud and financial mismanagement before it happens.

The last packed seminar of the day, “Staying in the Black—Avoiding Special Assessments,” was presented by The Building Group and featured panelists Jim Stoller, founder & president of The Building Group, Martin I. Klauber, vice president, division manager of Popular Association Banking and Robert B. Kogen, Esq., of the Buffalo Grove-based law firm of Kovitz Shifrin Nesbit. Here, these experts discussed tips and strategies for keeping your community well-funded without resorting to the dreaded special assessment. They also shared inside information on financial planning, savings, forecasting, and reserve studies.

Apartment Seminars

For the first time, The Chicagoland Cooperator was pleased to present 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!” was aimed to help attendees to navigate and learn all about 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 contrasted with those of the tenant.

“I own a small building and run it all myself, there's no real place for me to go to get info, and I don't have that much time,” said Wally from Des Plaines, “these classes really helped. You betcha I'll be back next time.”

Free Advice & More

One of the Expo’s prime attractions are the free advice booths hosted by The Chicagoland Cooperator and 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 Cooperator and 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.

“The Expo is exciting and provides a great opportunity to learn, grow and meet with experts,” said Joanna DiPaola, director of marketing and events for the Expo. “Everyone has a great day and each year more people are attending and more people are exhibiting. It's gratifying to help so many people.”

Mark your calendar for the next Chicago Cooperator’s Condo, HOA & Co-op Expo, which will return to the Navy Pier on Tuesday, October 28, 2014. Make your plans to attend.    

Liam P. Cusack is associate editor at The Chicagoland Cooperator.