Contractors gather in the Great Lake State for the Michigan Ground Water Association's annual convention.

Home to dignitaries when they visit Grand Rapids, Mich., the lovely Amway Grand Plaza Hotel played host to attendees of the Michigan Ground Water Association’s (MGWA) 79th annual convention this March 20-21. Despite a down state economy, the industry rallied, and the show was deemed a success.

The nearby DeVos Place convention center housed the trade show, where 280 contractors took in the sights on the show floor, and met with 180 exhibitors and non-exhibiting manufacturers and suppliers, including three overseas companies.

When asked about the convention’s highlights, executive director John Schmitt reports, “I saw a lot of people laughing and seemingly having a good time, enjoying each other’s company, sharing ideas. That’s probably always a highlight of the show to me – people visiting and discussing products.”

A range of seminars covered topics such as dealing with flow breakouts, safety and profitability, confined spaces, as well as the ubiquitous McEllhiney lecture, “Water and Oil – They Really Should Mix,” presented by Johnson Screen’s Edd Schofield. Business meetings and Ladies’ Auxiliary events took place, and the convention dinner, auctions and ice-cream social rounded out the activities.

Something new was the free lunch available to all trade show attendees. A coupon system made the noon-time meal easy and convenient, and those who were present can attest to the continually long lines, vouching its popularity. Schmitt reveals, “We were really pleased about the lunch. It seemed to go over quite well. I think that may become a tradition.”

A number of awards were granted at the show. Bob Webb II (A&B Webb Enterprises Inc., Hale, Mich.) took home the Driller of the Year award, while Donald Baron of Johnson Screens received the Distinguished Service award. Beth Postema (daughter of Jack and Nancy Lou Postema, Meyer Well Drilling, Montague, Mich.) and Kyle Thornton (son of Jim and Beth Thornton, Orzel Well Drilling, Columbus, Mich.) each were awarded scholarships. In speaking about leadership, John Ortt also presented Schmitt with a gift, acknowledging his service to the association.

Elections also were held. Bryan Brewer was elected president. Bob Webb II and Dan Cameron were voted the new vice-presidents, and William Corsaut was designated secretary. Bob Gates, who currently is a vice-president, will be treasurer, come the fall. They will take office in October for a one-year term.

Overall, the 2007 expo went well, as Schmitt sums it up: “Even though the group was smaller, I would still have to classify it as a success.”

Mark your calendars: the 80th MGWA annual convention heads to Lansing, Mich., set to take place March 17-18, 2008.