There's A Meeting for That

Razing the Bar

The National Demolition Association Convention & Expo.

Illustration by Carmen Segovia.

March 21–24, 2015
Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center

Attendees: 1,100
Presenters: 84


Demolition 2015 included 22 “fast and furious” concurrent education sessions in the exhibit hall on topics such as silica exposure, the scrap market, and “Air Monitoring During Torch-Cutting Operations.” More-traditional breakout sessions focused on OSHA, management succession, and bidding on government projects, according to NDA’s Peter Banks, while a Workforce Issues Panel offered “an informal, open discussion on the diverse multigenerational workforce within the industry.”

The adage “out with the old to make way for the new” possibly finds its rawest expression in the demolition industry, a business that goes far beyond wrecking balls. Now in its 42nd year, the annual meeting of the National Demolition Association (NDA) offers a forum for industry professionals to discuss both static and evolving technologies and safety standards — as well as find inspiration and new ideas — pertaining to the complicated work of dismantling, disposing of, and recycling structures.

After a banner year in Las Vegas in 2014, “we could not be more excited” to meet in Nashville, said Peter Banks, NDA’s board president. The group convened at the sprawling Gaylord Opryland, and kicked off the event with a dinner cruise on the Cumberland River.


While the term “demolition” might suggest visceral images of imploding skyscrapers and crumbling bridges, demolition contractors grapple with complex problems that require nuance and long-range planning. Health and safety is a perennial concern, as are efficiency, ROI, and keeping abreast of new equipment. “No two demolition projects are the same,” Banks said. “From demolition of a health-care facility to working on a government project, there are different regulations and guidelines that each demolition professional must adhere to and be knowledgeable in.”


NDA exhibitors — who run the gamut from insurance companies to magnetics manufacturers — took to Twitter to attract foot traffic, using the hashtag #Demolition2015 to show off their booths and photos of equipment such as excavators.


A little-known but key facet of the demolition industry is its role in preservation efforts and planning new development. “Demolition is not just about the destruction of a building, but how we can reinvent and reimagine spaces and communities,” Banks said. “From recycling and reusing materials for a new housing development or a new school, to creating space for a new public park, the demolition industry is an active participant in environmental stewardship, community development, and disaster response.”

Corin Hirsch

Corin Hirsch is associate editor of Convene.