By Scott Marshutz

Calling the launch of ISH North America "a vision that had become a reality," Roland Bleinroth, president of Messe Frankfurt Inc., credited a number of people for helping to bring the ISH concept to North America during a press conference on Thursday, the opening day of ISH North America. "It was an idea that we started to pursue further with our customers, exhibitors, attendees and many people from the press," said Bleinroth. "And eventually it led to what you see outside of these doors now."

The show opened at 10 a.m. and by early in the afternoon, a number of exhibitors seemed pleased with the turnout.

Bleinroth complimented the three partners co-producing the show: the American Supply Association (ASA), Canadian Institute of Plumbing & Heating (CIPH) and the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors - National Association (PHCC). "It takes a great team to achieve something great," he said. "This has proven to be a great team and a great partnership; we've put something on the map that many claimed wasn't possible to do in North America."

While Bleinroth admitted that ISH North America had not debuted on the same level and magnitude as the ISH show held in Frankfurt, he said it was the idea of creating an integrated approach that makes it unique. The event encompasses several market segments, including kitchen/bath, plumbing and pvf, heating and air conditioning.

Considering the short amount of time Messe Frankfurt had to organize the Toronto show (about 18 months), they were still able to attract 475 exhibitors, representing 40 countries (including attendees). "We have significant participation from Italy, Germany, Turkey, China, Canada and the U.S., which has the largest with 225," Bleinroth explained. "There are 52 seminars and educational workshops that are taking place in conjunction with the show. Many of them were sold out before we opened the doors."

In addition to announcing the winners of the New Product Showcase competition, Bleinroth promoted the Design Plus award display, a group of products recognized for innovation at ISH Frankfurt last year. "The Design Plus awards are given to products, which break ground in a variety of disciplines," he said.

He also plugged LonWorld 2002, a joint venture between Messe Frankfurt and Echelon Corp., taking place next to ISH in the National Trade Center on Thursday and Friday only.

Looking ahead, Bleinroth unveiled some details about next year's ISH show, which will be held in the newly constructed Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, October 1-3. Without being specific, he said the idea is to fold in more smaller, independently operated trade shows into ISH North America by next year.

"That is part of our vision, which has not been fully completed yet," Bleinroth said. "We're discussing opportunities at this time. Our expectations for Las Vegas is that it will be larger and even better attended than in Toronto. It makes more sense for everybody involved to have an integrated event."