There is something about the city of Chicago that just sings to the promoters of the AHR Expo.
“The show seems to be the centerpiece of the industry,” International Exposition Co. President Clay Stevens said in a recent conversation with pme. “And Chicago seems to be the centerpiece for the show.”
Stevens, whose company produces and manages the AHR Expo, says that advance registration for the Jan. 26-28 show at McCormick Place in downtown Chicago is running markedly higher than in 2012 (the last time the show was in the Second City).
“A conservative estimate is that 2015 will be 10 percent bigger than 2012,” Stevens said. “The growth has been across the board. We have more international exhibitors. We have a larger number of total exhibitors and square footage. The show is going to offer even more of everything that is good about it to begin with.”
ASHRAE, which will be running its Winter Conference at the nearby Palmer House Hilton Hotel, will be running courses concurrently in the expo hall.
“ASHRAE has made it easier for people, engineers in particular, to attend,” Stevens said. “Engineers can get professional development hours and continuing education units at the show.”
At this year’s event there will be a section dedicated to building automation. Stevens has seen the evolving trend of “smart buildings” continue to make its presence felt. Business software and design software will share a section of the floor map, which Stevens believes will be a draw for engineers.
“A large show like this has something to offer everybody. That’s one of the advantages.” Stevens said.
Lochinvar is ready to roll out its largest booth ever for the event – a 25’ x 50’ island – that will be fully manned. The manufacturer will be showcasing its FTXL Fire Tube Boiler and CON-X-US mobile app. The app allows for remote monitoring of boilers via a smartphone or iPad.
“You can get into the operating parameters of the boiler at any time,” said Mike Lahti, Lochinvar’s vice president of sales and marketing. “You can check the boiler, monitor it and modify the performance. We think it’s going to change the way building owners and operators manage their heating plans.”
“Property managers love it,” said Lou Falzer, Lochinvar’s northern sales manager. “They’re looking at costs all the time. If they can reduce that, they are willing to spend the extra money for the product, especially if it has a higher efficiency and lower turndown.”
Having three days of meetings with engineers is crucial to Lochinvar to cultivate future relationships and potential business opportunities.
“It really provides the engineers an opportunity to see the products up close,” Lahti said. “We use the show simply as a ticket to more advanced and thorough follow-up at their local offices down the road.”
Mark Handzel, director of the building services market for Bell & Gossett, is excited about how business projections are shaping up for 2015.
“We’re listening to all industry forecasts,” he said. “We’re expecting to see a recovery of the education market and, although maybe not as strong, in the health-care market. They have not recovered at the same pace of offices, for example. But now we are seeing those jobs finally getting the go-ahead. They are not on the drawing board any longer.”
Handzel said when he meets with engineers and building owners that work primarily in the education and health-care markets, those clients desire products that are durable with low-maintenance design needs.
“They want to be able to buy variable-speed drives with our pumps,” Handzel said. “They don’t want to have to deal with multiple vendors and have to put the pieces together. They are looking to purchase a pumping system.”
Jomar Valve CEO and President Paul Craig believes that since 9/11, trade shows fell down the ladder of importance to the industry. But in the more recent past he has seen a strong uptick on that front.
“We’re always been successful generating leads at ASHRAE and AHR,” he said. “We’ve been there for more than 20 consecutive years. Last year, AHR was in New York and the weather was terrible, but the turnout was unbelievable. We’re expecting big things out of Chicago.”
David McLean, vice president of business development of commercial buildings for Grundfos, will be on the floor for his first AHR Expo after more than 20 years with the Denmark-based manufacturer.
“There is definitely going to be growth this year in the nonresidential markets,” McLean said. “It’s great to start the year at the AHR exposition and get to meet all the relevant people in the industry.”
Since transferring to the United States, McLean said he noticed the engineering community wanting to work together in making the overall process of design and construction work smoother.
“What we are hearing is that they need help finding ways to design systems better and quicker,” he said. “They want more support, especially when it comes to energy efficiency and what it means to the whole system.”
Nuts and bolts
According to a survey distributed to manufacturers by Stevens and International Exposition Co., 70% of respondents said they expect to introduce new products at the expo, a 3% increase from the 2014 show. Fifty-three percent of those respondents plan to unveil products that improve energy efficiency.
Attendees will have more than 120 educational sessions on topics ranging from building automation, water-cooled systems for air conditioning and active chilled beams, and more. The education opportunities range from three-dozen free sessions, nearly two-dozen paid courses and more than 60 exhibitor new product presentations in the New Product & Technology theaters.
Also during AHR Expo, pme’s sister publication Plumbing & Mechanical again will host its PM Live workshops on Tuesday, Jan. 27. The two half-day technical workshops feature industry gurus and BNP Media Plumbing Group columnists Dan Holohan and John Siegenthaler. For more information please visit www.pmlivesumposium.com.