I have just returned home from the 2014 American Society of Plumbing Engineers’ Convention & Exposition and in record time for being in Chicago traffic – 30 minutes. I give many thanks to ASPE for selecting Chicago as its host city for this event cycle. You are welcome to our fair city any time.

For full coverage of the 2014 ASPE Expo, please check out page 30 of the October 2014 print issue. In this space, I want to provide some nuggets I gleaned while spending the better part of three days at the show.

Here we go:

• Since I made a mistake in reading the panel discussion schedule, I arrived about two hours early on Monday to downtown Chicago’s McCormick Place. Since pmeoccupied an exhibitor’s booth, I was able to head up to the show floor before the ribbon was cut. As I rode the slowly ascending elevator, I expected to see the last-minute rush of assembling booths and getting new products primed for display. I thought I would experience a flashback to the lone play I performed in during high school (Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, but that is a story for another time).

However, there was none of that. People on the floor were calm, collected and prepped for the ensuing onslaught of visitors.

• This was my first ASPE Expo and I walked away impressed. The exhibitor floor had a nice, simple layout.

• Compared to other shows I have attended, I thought ASPE and exhibitors did a fine job of focusing its message to specific commercial markets. Many booths I visited clearly labeled where exactly their products are meant to be installed and utilized to reach optimal performance.

• I attended a few panel discussions and absorbed so much information. I wanted to really think about what I learned and digest it before I wrote a column on it because there was so much good stuff. But, it was fascinating and I was impressed with the engagement the engineers displayed during those sessions.

• I have to say this new (at least to me) taxi service, Uber, is fantastic. I am from Milwaukee where using a taxi is not a typical form of transportation. Since moving to Chicago more than four years ago, taking a cab around town is standard operating procedure. The issue with the standard taxi ride always comes at the end when it is time to pay the fare. As a passenger (at least in Chicago), you have the right to pay with a debit or credit card. But, the cabbies hate that because of the service fee they incur per transaction. So, they will passive-aggressively insist on cash.

More often than not, I am non-confrontational. I just want to continue on my way and not make many waves. Uber takes the hassle out as all fares are completed with a credit card preloaded into your profile.

It is really great to see someone come into the market and shake things up with new method. I hope that the plumbing industry nurtures that type of creativity and can rattle the cages with something fresh and exciting.

• Finally, I want to thank all the people I met during the ASPE convention. I appreciate the connections I made. I also hope we can meet again soon to continue to strengthen this wonderful industry.