The AHR Expo is upon us once again. You know what means, right? It’s time to break out your most comfortable shoes.

When the event was last held in Chicago back in January 2012, I was not ready. My colleagues told me what to expect and I thought I was properly prepared. But, by 2:30 p.m. on the first day, I was in agony. My feet had blisters on and I was limping to booth appointments and after-hour events.

I trudged my way to the closest train stop and painfully returned home and immediately collapsed on the couch. My wife came in from our bedroom and asked what was wrong. I tersely told her I was not moving an inch until the next morning.

Tuesday rolled around and I made sure to wear thicker socks and put in gel inserts into my dress shoes. Same result, only the misery hit me at 11:30 a.m.

And from talking with industry contacts and seeing some research, I am going to devise the perfect game plan to survive the 2015 AHR Expo Jan. 26-28 at McCormick Place in downtown Chicago. It’s shaping up to be a busy show.

ASHRAE and the organizers of the AHR Expo deployed a survey to more than 1,000 HVACR manufacturers throughout the world asking for the outlook on the current marketplace. The results show 87% of respondents see prospects as either being excellent (26%) or good (61%) — an 8% increase over 2014 survey findings and a 17% jump over 2013.

Another interesting note from the survey is manufacturers predict new construction will be the most active market in 2015: 40% of respondents rate this segment to be excellent to good, which is an 11% increase from 2014. Maintenance/replacement was second at 32% followed by retrofit/renovation at 28%.

“In the previous two years’ survey, they were expecting more growth from the retrofit/renovation and maintenance/replacement areas,” says International Exposition Co. President Clay Stevens, whose company produces the AHR Expo.

David McLean, vice president of business development of commercial buildings for Grundfos, will be attending his first AHR Expo since coming to the United States. McLean already understands the importance of the event and is ready to hit the show floor.

“From what I have heard from my colleagues this is the exhibition to be at in the Americas,” he says. “I’m looking forward to meeting new people and showing them where Grundfos can be of advantage to them.”

Still, the most important aspect for manufacturers is getting in front of you – the engineer.

“Specifying engineers drive the market,” Jomar Valve CEO and President Paul Craig says. “We’re trying to build our company based on being in specifications throughout the country.”

To get a more in-depth look at the AHR Expo please check out pme’s preview story, as well as our expo product preview.

Finally, I hope you all had a happy and safe holiday season. This industry demands a lot from us, but it’s important to rest, recharge our batteries, and enjoy our family and friends.

Here’s to a prosperous new year. And be sure to check your shoes because 2015 is going to be a very busy year.