5 Unexpected Takeaways from CARWACS 2022
By Ryan Guanlao
It’s not until something is gone, that you truly appreciate how important and meaningful it was.
This September after a two-year hiatus, the annual CARWACS Convenience U Show in Toronto made a triumphant return. And once more, CTM was there to represent the engineering and design industry.
While valiant efforts were made to switch to a virtual model during the pandemic, it just wasn’t the same. I mean, how do you replace the energy, interactions and relationships that come from an inspiring in-person experience? You can’t.
The CTM booth has been a fixture of CARWACS going back to 2015. Here are 5 things that stood out as we returned to the Toronto Congress Centre for a real-live industry event.
1. Many were surprised to learn CTM now has a Toronto office.
Talk about bad timing. Just as CTM announced the opening of our brand-new Ontario office on Dundas St. – in the heart of downtown Toronto, the world went into lockdown. So this bit of good news flew under the radar.
At CARWACS, we finally had a chance to talk about our new location and introduce Ontario-based clients and vendors to Daniel Romero, who is heading up CTM Toronto. Daniel is a senior engineer and project manager who has been with CTM for over 10 years.
The consensus is having boots on the ground in Ontario will bring greater value to our eastern clients. This makes it easier and more economical to schedule meetings and conduct site visits. By cutting down on travel costs to fly our Calgary team to Ontario, CTM can be more competitive and more hands-on.
2. People appreciate talking to subject experts face-to-face.
We met with a ton of independent retailers. And we had a blast doing it!
As the only engineering, design, and architectural firm in attendance, CARWACS allowed CTM to share our extensive knowledge of convenience store, gas bar, and carwash design and construction with those who can benefit most.
It was really apparent how much easier it is for business owners to ask questions and discuss their projects face-to-face. You don’t realize how much the in-person setting puts people at ease and allows for meaningful conversations that can positively impact their business.
3. Our industry is evolving!
Daniel and I both commented on the new vendors that you wouldn’t have seen at CARWACS in past years. Most notable was the presence of suppliers from the cannabis and e-charging sectors, both of which have experienced stratospheric growth in recent years.
We also had a chance to speak to vendors with new product lines that might have an application in our builds (such as tankless hot water systems and earth bins). For us, CARWACS has always been an incredible opportunity to discover the latest and greatest tools, technologies and materials to build into our designs.
4. Great vendor relationships pay off!
We were pleasantly surprised to meet a number of CARWACS attendees who were sent our way by our valued vendors. It turns out many of our vendors are our greatest evangelists. This really reinforced the importance of building strong relationships and earning a reputation for doing high-quality, professional work.
5. Engineering & design work isn’t sexy… but it is vital!
We are under no illusion that the work we do is glamorous. (“Honey, I can’t wait to tell you what I learned about permit applications!”)
Sure, we’re a little envious when we see CARWACS attendees sprinting to other booths to load up on snack items, soft drinks, and all sorts of cool gadgets and giveaways. And we know it’s impossible to compete with the latest car wash and dispenser technologies that draw in people like magnets.
But at the end of the day, we take pride in knowing that the design and planning work we do is central to the success of our clients. We love being at CARWACS, and only see it getting bigger and better in the years to come.