Recap: 2024 Great Lakes Design and Construction EXPO

Recap: 2024 Great Lakes Design and Construction EXPO

Where Industry Professionals Come to Network ... and Stay to Learn


By Alexis Seeley

Brightly decorated exhibitor displays stretching as far as the eye can see greeted more than 1,500 visitors to this year’s Great Lakes Design and Construction EXPO. Some of the more than 130 booths dazzled with impressive displays, like an excavator arm acting as a trellis over the booth entry or an electric scissor lift that stretched 10 feet tall. Attendees could sit in a front-end loader, win a variety of raffle prizes, and so much more at the EXPO, held at Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi on February 14, 2024. The EXPO gave everyone involved the opportunity to meet and greet old and new colleagues, market their products and services, and learn about the ever-changing residential and commercial construction industry.

This year’s event, a joint show between the Construction Association of Michigan and the Home Builders Association of Southeastern Michigan, also included five free educational sessions, an Economic Forecast Breakfast, and CAM’s 138th Annual Meeting. Commercial and residential contractors, architects, suppliers, and service providers enjoyed networking opportunities and business-building workshops throughout the day, all designed to support Michigan’s construction industry.

IMG_6093Terrie Webster, Branch Manager of Skyworks, has been involved with CAM throughout her 30 years working at different construction companies. This is the third year that Skyworks, an equipment rental company specializing in aerial lifts, exhibited at EXPO. Webster said that shifting technology – a topic discussed throughout the day – is a significant change that she’s experienced in the construction industry in the last 5 to 10 years.

“Equipment is getting more and more tech-savvy – a mechanic cannot just go fix a piece of equipment anymore; they actually have to take a computer plugin, just like your car. You used to be able to take it to the family mechanic, but now you have to go to the dealer because you don't have the same tools. Same thing with us,” Webster explained. “We have to have the right technology to work on our equipment. Machines are getting more car-like. A skid steer these days is going to have a Bose radio system. If they want heat, air, etc., that cab is going to be so much different than what people 10 years ago had.”

Webster was featured in a bonus hour of The Inside Outside Guys radio show on WJR. Co-hosts Ken Calverley and Chuck Breidenstein broadcast live from the Skyworks booth on February 14th. A few days prior, CAM President Kevin Koehler joined Calverly on the Inside Outside Guys radio show to discuss all that is the Great Lakes Design & Construction EXPO. You can listen to both episodes on

Carlos Hidalgo from Diamond Concrete Sawing, a first-time exhibitor at EXPO, also agreed that technology is a significant change in the industry. “Technology is the critical thing, and it's constantly moving. Years ago, you didn't have locating services or sub service, which we do,” Hidalgo said. “If you dug and you hit a pipe, tough luck. So that's just one of the many changes the equipment, the type of construction, also the speed by which our clients want services.”

Mark Cwiklinski with Young Supply Company has been an EXPO exhibitor for 10 years. Building connections helps grow his business, a refrigeration, heating, cooling, hydronic, and parts wholesaler. Because Cwiklinski returns year after year to the event, he now “has a relationship with some home builders, specifically tiny home builders based here in Michigan.”


The Economic Forecast Breakfast Brings Good News


The day started with the Economic Forecast Breakfast featuring Dr. Daniil Manaenkov, U.S. Forecasting Specialist for the University of Michigan’s Research Seminar in Quantitative Economics (RSQE). Overall, his message was good news for the 200 attendees.

The economic forecast is much better than it was this time last year. After inflation “basically collapsed” in the latter half of 2023, the threat of recession, while still possible, has diminished significantly. “I would say there’s a 20% chance we still slip into a recession in the next year; 20% we have awesome growth,” Manaenkov explained. More likely, he said that the U.S. and Michigan economies will continue to improve.

“We expect inflation to stay roughly where it’s at, which is pretty close to the fed’s target,” Manaenkov said. “Consumers suddenly are feeling more optimistic.”

In Michigan, the post-COVID economic recovery has been faster in the Grand Rapids region compared to metro Detroit; however, it lags slightly compared to the national trends.

Looking at 2024 and beyond, Manaenkov said that productivity increases should outpace job growth as more companies are using advanced technology. But he expects the tight labor market should loosen a bit over the next several years. “In general, we are projecting growth to continue, but to slow down in the next year or two,” he said. “The labor market is expected to remain pretty tight throughout our forecast.”

  View the slides from Dr. Daniil Manaenkov's Economic Forecast presentation here. 


CAM’s 138th Annual Meeting: AI in the Construction Industry

Nearly 500 people attended CAM’s Annual Meeting and Luncheon, giving members a report on the health of the association, a review of accomplishments from the prior year, and plans for the upcoming year.

240216_CAM-ANNUAL_22With the theme “AI in the Construction Industry,” keynote speaker Lindsey Rem, Vice President of Business Transformation at Barton Malow, focused on the competitive advantages and disadvantages that AI can bring to businesses. Rem provided an overview of how AI is currently being used and its potential future applications in the construction industry. She talked about defining AI as a “prediction technology” and how it uses “info we do have to generate info we don’t have.”

Other key points shared included concerns about its impact but also benefits brought to the workplace, such as increased efficiencies. Examples were given of AI helping to streamline tasks like contract management, trade coordination, and using image/data to track quality and safety issues. Rem emphasized the importance of early adoption through quick wins and a comprehensive approach, while acknowledging both the competitive advantages and the need to verify the reliability of various AI systems.

  View the slides from Lindsey Rem's keynote address here.


Book Tower Awarded Project of the Year

The 138th CAM Annual Meeting also saw the presentation of the CAM Magazine Project Achievement Awards. Every year, 12 construction projects are featured in the October issue of the magazine. Following evaluation and voting by the CAM Magazine Editorial Advisory Committee, CAM staff, and an online vote, one of the projects is crowned CAM Magazine’s Project of the Year at the CAM Annual Meeting.

IMG_4667CAM President Kevin Koehler gave tribute to each project and asked that each project team stand to be recognized. Then came the much-anticipated announcement of the Project of the Year … which was awarded to Detroit’s Book Tower development, a Brinker | Christman Joint Venture with Bedrock as Owner/Developer.

The 38-story historic Italian Renaissance-style building, originally opened in 1926, has undergone a seven-year, nearly $400 million transformation. The reopened Book Tower now houses apartments, offices, restaurants, a hotel, fitness center, and event spaces, blending historical charm with modern amenities, contributing to the renaissance of Detroit.

“We are honored that Book Tower has been recognized as Project of the Year by CAM Magazine, and want to thank the tireless efforts of the entire Bedrock team and our many partners for helping to craft the future of this important Detroit icon,” said Jamie Witherspoon, Senior Vice President of Architecture at Bedrock. “Book Tower is one of the most significant adaptive reuse developments of our time, both as a symbol of the strong design legacy of our city and a demonstration of how that legacy can inform creative and sustainable solutions for our future. After anchoring Washington Boulevard for the last century, we are excited for Book Tower to begin its newest chapter as a landmark destination for the next 100 years.”

Bedrock chose New York-based ODA as architect and interior designer, while Detroit-based Kraemer Design Group served as the historic preservation architect. Brinker |Christman, a Joint Venture worked as construction managers on the project, with engineering handled by Giffels Webster and Buro Happold.

Other finalists for the 2023 awards include (in no particular order): Ruth Ellis Clairmount Center, Wacker Innovation Center & Regional HQ, Roosevelt Park, Walled Lake Early Childhood Center, Ingham County Justice Complex, Woodward West, Monark Grove Clarkston, Huntington Tower, Orion Township Municipal Complex, Kettering University Learning Commons, and Shelby Township Public Library. All of the honored projects were featured in CAM Magazine’s October 2023 Project Achievements Issue.

CAM Magazine is currently accepting submissions for its 2024 Project Achievements program. To be eligible, projects must be constructed or designed by a CAM member company and must have been completed – or reached substantial completion – between June 2023 and June 2024. Visit for more information. 


A New CAM Chairman Takes the Stage

Among the 138th Annual Meeting traditions is the presentation of a new red blazer to the Board’s incoming Chairman. This year, Todd Moilanen, Managing Partner of Clovequip Properties, was inaugurated as the 2024 CAM Board Chairman.

240216_CAM-ANNUAL_46In her final speech as 2023 Board Chair, Tricia Ruby, President and CEO of Ruby+Associates, a Degenkolb Company, expressed gratitude for her time as head of the Board. “CAM is one of the few organizations that has a membership of the entire construction industry. There are associations that represent general contractors, specialty contractors, architects, engineers … CAM brings us all together, like they have today,” she said.

As Ruby slipped the symbolic red blazer over Moilanen’s shoulders, he officially became the 2024 Chairman of the Board. Moilanen is a third-generation owner/operator in the Detroit-area construction industry - his family has been in the business for five generations. “Needless to say, serving on CAM’s Board and now as Chairman is a unique opportunity to give back to an industry that has done so much for us. I would not be where I am today without the path of support before me by my family for nearly a century and so many talented and hardworking team members during our 59-year journey.”

Specific priorities that Moilanen will be working on during his term include: remaining committed to the newly updated CAM Strategic Plan, with an emphasis on workforce development, continuing to support House Bill 6174 (Prompt Pay for construction projects), re-establishing the Biennial Business Survey, and increasing membership.


New Directors Are Introduced

2024_CAMNewBoardMembersEach year, three Board members retire and the CAM membership votes for three new Board directors. Joining the Board in 2024 are Nicole M. “Nikki” Csont-Schram, Senior Project Manager at Blaze Contracting; Elmer M. Dixon, President of Dixon Inc.; and Randal B. Pagel, Owner and Vice President of Bumler Mechanical.


  View a gallery of images from the 2024 Great Lakes Design and Construction EXPO here.

Please be sure to share your photos on social media, tagging #gldcEXPO and #BuildwithCAM.


The 2024 Great Lakes Design and Construction EXPO was hosted jointly by the Construction Association of Michigan and the Home Builders Association of Southeastern Michigan. The event was generously sponsored by Lake Michigan Credit Union, CG Financial Services, Crystal Clear Solutions, Prairie Capital Advisors, and Sherwin-Williams.

Thank you to everyone who came out this year! Save the date for EXPO 2025, which takes place on February 12, 2025!