NATM breaks Vegas/Orlando mold and heads for South Carolina for a rich taste of history and culture

The National Association of Trailer Manufacturers (NATM) is trading the lights of Las Vegas and the allure of Orlando for the historical charm of Charleston, South Carolina.

The theme of this year's NATM Convention & Trade Show, set for Feb. 24-28, 2009, is “Where Tradition and Trailers Meet.” It's a nod to NATM's history — the manufacturers that have been with NATM for 20 years — and to a city known for its rich history. It's a city that was established in 1670, named for King Charles of England, and became the center of the Carolina colony and the eighth state to join the Union. It's a city with 93 entries on the National Register of Historic Places.

“This is not your Las Vegas/Orlando pattern that we've had,” NATM assistant director Michelle Brown said. “You're actually going to a destination city, so we've done a lot more marketing. There are a lot of our manufacturers within a desirable area. We ran a report and sent it to 1200 of them. I think we'll get a lot of our manufacturers from that area.”

The switch also was dictated by the growth of the convention. With 300 10'×10' booth spaces — up from 280 last year — the convention has become too big for a lot of hotels but not big enough for the biggest hotels.

“We're limiting the convention to hotels that will bid for two or three years out,” she says.

The change means that the attendees will be spread out among a number of hotels — allowing them to pick their hotel and perhaps utilize their rewards programs — and will be shuttled by bus to the North Charleston Convention Center.

The Embassy Suite Hotel is the host hotel, but NATM has reserved rooms at three additional hotels: Hilton Garden Inn Charleston Airport, Holiday Inn Charleston Airport & Convention Center, and Sheraton North Charleston.

The convention will head to Reno, Nevada, in 2010 and 2012, with 2011 still to be determined.

Workshops

As usual, this year's convention includes educational workshops that encourage attendees to examine and evaluate current practices and launch new initiatives, taking away tools and resources that will help build a stronger and more effective industry/business.

On Thursday, February 26, the Regulatory Roundtable will feature “FMCSA Update,” “EWR Confidentiality”, and New VIN Label Requirements.

Workshops on Saturday, February 28: “Current Fabrication Trends,” “Government Relations,” “HR Issues, “Benchmarking and Managing in an Inflationary Cycle,” “Workers Compensation,” “SAE Standards Update,” “Compliance Issues,” and “Special Projects Update.”

Keynote speaker

Ben Stein has had what may well be the most diverse career of anyone now on the national scene.

He has been an award-winning actor, economist, writer, journalist, and teacher, and is equally well known in America's board rooms and in America's dormitories and fraternity houses. He is a famous humorous teacher of economics as well as a famous real-life writer and teacher of economics and law.

After college graduation, he served as a poverty lawyer, a trial lawyer in the field of advertising, and a teacher of the political content of film and TV at American University, UC-Santa Cruz, and Pepperdine.

He was a speech writer and lawyer for Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. He was a columnist and editorial writer for The Wall Street Journal.

In June 1976, he moved to Hollywood to become a novelist, TV sitcom writer, and movie script writer. He has written and published 30 books — seven fiction and the rest nonfiction. Most of his books are about Hollywood and mass culture, but some are self-help and finance.

In 1986, with no professional training, Stein became an instant cult hero for his role as the boring economics teacher in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, a scene from which was recently voted one of the 50 funniest in American film history.

After that, Stein went on to be a recurring character in Charles in Charge and The Wonder Years. In 1997, he began his long-running hit quiz show, Win Ben Stein's Money.

He is currently a columnist for The New York Times, a regular commentator on CBS Sunday Morning, a commentator for Yahoo! Finance, a commentator for Fox News, and a frequent contributor to CNBC.

Golf tournament

KampCo is once again sponsoring the golf tournament, hosted by Coosaw Creek Country Club Golf Course. Seamlessly moving from woods to wetlands, it is an Arthur Hills classic that has been given “Must Play” status by Golf Magazine, and a four-star rating from Golf Digest.

The 6593-yard, par-71 semi-private course has low-country character and is praised by local golf enthusiasts for its pristine condition.

Coosaw Creek offers fun and fair game for the novice while challenging the more experienced golfer with a variety of undulating greens and strategically placed bunkers and water hazards.

Men are required to wear collared golf shirts and golf slacks/shorts. Women are required to wear golf shirts/ blouses (no halters), slacks, skirts, or golf shorts. Non-metal spikes must be worn while on the course.

Awards will be presented for first, second, and third place, longest drive, longest putt, and closest to the pin. The format is a four-person scramble with a shotgun start at 9 am Wednesday, February 25.

The fee is $150 per person, and only full registrations are eligible to participate.

Tours

Option #1: Historic Charleston City & Fort Sumter Tour

Charleston's history is found literally around every corner, and the city is often called a living museum.

This journey through Charleston will consist of a comprehensive tour of the city's Historic District, including Hibernian Hall, a National Historic Landmark and the site of the 1860 National Democratic Convention. At The Citadel, the military college of South Carolina, you'll be immersed in the patriotic history; at The Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon, you'll see one of the three most historically significant buildings in Colonial America; at The Charleston Museum — the nation's oldest — you'll see a replica of the CSS Hunley, the world's first successful attack submarine.

As you travel through 18th and 19th century neighborhoods, you will enjoy the beauty of Rainbow Row, the oldest row of 18th century structures in Charles Towne. Be sure to look beyond the privacy hedges at the famed magnificent formal gardens. You will visit White Point Gardens, where you will marvel in the magnificence of the Battery Mansions, which overlook the Charleston Harbor where the Ashley and Cooper Rivers converge to, according to local lore, meet to form the Atlantic Ocean.

The tour travels on to Fort Sumter — a place rich in history. Located on a small man-made island, the Fort is accessible only by boat.

South Carolina had seceded from the Union, yet Union forces still occupied strategic Fort Sumter at the entrance of Charleston Harbor. The South demanded that Fort Sumter be vacated; the North refused. Finally, on April 12, 1861, from nearby Fort Johnson, South Carolina troops of the Confederacy fired on the Fort — the start of a two-day bombardment that resulted in the surrender of Fort Sumter by Union troops.

With the North's withdrawal, the South held the Fort until it was finally evacuated on Feb. 17, 1865. During that time the Fort experienced one of the longest sieges in modern warfare — for almost two years, 46,000 shells — estimated at over seven million pounds of metal — were fired at the Fort.

The five-hour tour is Wednesday, February 25, from 7 am to 2 pm. Cost is $35 per person.

Option #2: Middleton Place Plantation with Luncheon

Middleton Place is a National Historic Landmark and a carefully preserved 18th-century plantation. It was the home of many generations of Middletons, beginning with Henry Middleton, president of the First Continental Congress.

The House Museum is a repository of great family treasures, including three Benjamin West paintings and two by Thomas Sully, Charleston-made rice beds, a Thomas Elfe table, much of the family's original china, fine English silver, and hundreds of books, letters, and documents. Your guided tour of the house will give a fascinating insight into the generations of Middletons that lived there and their role in America's history.

The Gardens at Middleton Place, which Henry Middleton began to create in 1741, reflect the grand classic style that remained in vogue in Europe and England into the early part of the 18th century. A garden of this magnitude was unlike any other in America at that time.

The buildings in The Stableyards contain “living exhibits” where tasks such as weaving, carpentry, coopering, pottery, and blacksmithing are demonstrated on various days. These tasks were carried out by slaves in the 18th and 19th centuries and are performed today by costumed interpreters, who often discuss slavery and plantation life from the earliest periods through Emancipation, Reconstruction, and the first half of the 20th century.

The five-hour tour is Wednesday, February 25, from 7 am to 2 pm. Cost is $35 per person and lunch is included.

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