As science and health-safety measures improve the options for managing COVID-19, our confidence has grown to the level that we can announce our intention to safely produce our popular in-person event, TOP 500 LIVE, later this year. It will be held at the Marriott New Orleans Nov. 1 to Nov. 3. We are thrilled so many of you have indicated that you intend to be there with us. It was a big factor in this decision-making.

Many considerations have gone into this decision. There were dozens, in fact. All these considerations are spelled out in our safety guidelines on our TOP 500 LIVE website. We take very seriously our responsibility, along with local authorities on the ground in New Orleans, to keep our sponsors, attendees and speakers safe during this gathering.

Let me also say it would have been much easier for us to throw in the towel and to wait for the “old normal” to return. That fact is, we’d be waiting a very long time, possibly forever, for the “old normal” to return. I won’t get too philosophical here. But getting fully back to work is not just about returning to offices. It also means producing important trade shows and conferences.

This summer, I attended two large trade shows. Coverings, a trade show for tile manufacturers, was held July 7 and July 8 in Orlando. The International Roofing Expo was held in Las Vegas Aug. 10 to Aug. 12. Thousands of people followed local guidelines, and there was an abundance of meaningful interaction at each event.

During the pandemic, we all learned that much can be accomplished with Zoom meetings. While attending these two trade shows, I experienced an unexpected, semi-euphoric, feeling. Face-to-face interaction with people is so much better than screen-sharing meetings, even if local jurisdictions require a mask, as was necessary in Las Vegas.

Patrick O’Toole

We forget how much real connection is lost in a screen-share world. We forget how much can be accomplished, faster and more effectively, in person. For those of you who have not yet attended an in-person conference or business meeting, I encourage you to safely try it.

TOP 500 LIVE in New Orleans will be bursting with sales, lead-gen and operational ideas from leading CEOs and experts from around the world of home improvement. It comes at a time when you and your team is, no doubt, running flat-out to meet production deadlines.

We are aware of how busy everyone is. To that, we counter with the notion that November is also the perfect time for a two-day business overview with your co-owners and top management. The new year requires a new plan.

To receive details about TOP 500 LIVE go to or email Projects Manager Heidi Riedl at See you in New Orleans! QR

Patrick O’Toole is co-founder of SOLA Group Inc.

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