ATLANTA, June 26, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- More than 2,500 contractors, insurance carrier representatives and service provider partners attended the recent Crawford Contractor Connection Conference, setting another attendance record for the popular invitation-only educational and networking event despite interruption by a gas explosion and evacuation. The 14th annual conference, one of the largest expos in the restoration industry, offers insurance carriers, affinity partners, network members and Contractor Connection personnel an opportunity to focus on contractor program service offerings and the needs and challenges of both providers and clients. This year's event, whose theme was "Building a Better Connection," was held June 19-22 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville, Tenn. Due to a mechanical failure, a gas explosion occurred at the hotel shortly after the initial meet and greet reception Tuesday evening. Despite an evacuation that lasted into the early morning, the event resumed with the Wednesday welcome reception, although the expo and training classes were cancelled. Attendance records still were set at general sessions Thursday and Friday. "We were challenged by the gas explosion this year, but the attendees demonstrated the professionalism and patience you would expect from those experienced with disasters," said Larry Thomas, president of Contractor Connection. "The commitment by all conference participants, from insurance carriers to contractor network members, continues to amaze me. This incident brought us closer as a group and, in keeping with our conference theme, helped us build a better connection in our joint efforts to provide consistent, quality service to the end customer." Jim Murphy, founder and chief executive officer of Afterburner Inc., and Charles Campbell, director of Afterburner University, offered a keynote presentation on "Flawless Execution" during the general session. Afterburner, a group of elite military professionals and fighter pilots, is a leading authority on organizational execution, with many Fortune 500 and Global 1000 clients. Ken Rosen, chief claims officer for USAA, and Rick Johnson, vice president of sales for Xactware, also were featured speakers. In addition, Kevin Frawley, chief executive officer of Crawford's Property & Casualty - Americas region, and Thomas provided a program update. Special client sessions, in which a number of leading national insurance carriers that partner with Contractor Connection discussed their expectations for contractor managed repair services, were included in the general program. The conference also featured the second annual general session for Canadian participants and concluded with a special consumer services general session. This session provided client and peer insight on the success of and opportunities for the newly implemented home improvement service offered by Contractor Connection.