The Restoration Industry Association opened its 65th Annual Convention & Exhibition at the Hyatt Regency in Atlanta, Ga., March 23-27, with a full day of pre-conference courses Wednesday and a welcome reception in the exhibition hall that evening.

Thursday morning’s “Early Bird” education sessions were followed by keynote speaker Dan Coughlin, who discussed team leading and accelerating roles and impacts on them.

“I want you to see the equity in value. When you create good value for other people, the very first person they’re going to think of, the first person they’re going to turn to for leadership, for influence, for guidance, is you,” Coughlin said. “The most important leadership basis of all is creating and delivering value to other people.”

The RIA’s annual Phoenix Awards were also presented Thursday morning. The awards, for “Innovation in Restoration” and “Innovation in Reconstruction” are awarded to RIA member firms for projects completed in 2009 that deal with damage to personal property or buildings, commercial or residential, the demonstrate value, require creative problem solving and illustrate the use of innovative procedures.

The Phoenix Award for Innovation in Restoration was presented to Spotless Carpet Cleaners & Janitorial Services, Inc., for its “Crantzdorf Castle” project. A turret of the $28-million Johnson City, Tenn., structure was damaged in a winter thunderstorm. The company contents- and structure-drying processes saved the owners millions of dollars in restoration costs.

The Phoenix Award for Innovation in Reconstruction went to the Johns Lyng Group. The first-ever international presentation of the Phoenix Award, the Australia-based Johns Lyng Group was charged with reconstructing the Moama Bowling Club in inland Australia after a devastating fire. The company completed the project in 24 weeks, at a total cost of $17 million ($AUD).

Check back often for more updates from the show.