Score to date: for expo, 3; otherwise, 0; undecided, 1

March 28, 2000
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Maybe you read his Letter to the Editor, printed on page 8 in last week’s issue. Joe Klepacz, a regional account representative for Uni-Line North America, expressed his distaste regarding The News’ coverage of the 2000 International Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigerating (IAHR) Exposition.

And you know he dislikes the coverage when he states: “What the IAHR Expo lacks is positive post-show reporting.”

Well, I did ask for readers’ opinions regarding the Expo in this same space three weeks ago. It was suggested here that contractors just might not be attending the show for various reasons — even if the show people report that large numbers of contractors are attending and did attend the 2000 event in Dallas, TX.

Even though Mr. Klepacz did not specifically say in his letter that he was “for” the Expo, he did not have to. His wording told The News team that he liked what he saw and experienced at the Expo and he wanted to know why The News did not see the same thing he did.

Therefore, I translate this into: “for” Expo, 1; otherwise, 0.

Yes, I did receive a phone call from a representative of the International Exposition Co., too. Do I really need to relay what this person said?

No, this person did not appreciate the front-page story in the February 28 issue, nor did this person like the top headline on page 12. However, this same person did agree The News’ coverage (minus the above noted article and headline) was good, fair, and comprehensive.

Therefore, if I read this representative’s mind correctly, the score is now 2-0 in favor of the Expo.

Then came the letters and e-mails.

For instance, reader Gary Pabst, of Promec in Springfield, MO, is another “for” the Expo. “I am one of the contractors who believes that the Expo has a lot to offer everyone,” he wrote, and he proceeded to argue his case. He did add these two interesting notes:

1. “As far as Johnson [Controls], Trane, Carrier, and the other muscle companies not bringing their newest and unique products to the Expo, they are the ones who are missing out. This gives the smaller companies a chance to shine. I spend more time in the smaller booths talking to representatives than I do the large, ‘Blown-Up Booths.’ You can tell who really wants to talk to you about their products and who is just being paid to be there.”

2. “Spend time finding more ways to improve the advertisement for the IAHR Expo through our vendors, like a free trip given away to a contractor if he qualifies with a contest or etc. They should be thinking creative, not depressing!”

Again, even though he saw some need for improvement in the Expo, I’ll make the score now: Expo 3, otherwise 0.

Meanwhile, Richard N. Foster Jr., president of Trolex Corp., was on both sides of the fence: “I read with interest the post-show issue and the discussion regarding ‘Where are the contractors?’ As an attendee of the ASHRAE Show for 27 years, 26 as an exhibitor, I think most of the answer lies in the fact that the Carriers, Tranes, Honeywells, Johnsons, Rheems, etc., were conspicuously absent.”

Mr. Foster later states, “Now I’m not saying without the biggies, the show is bad. On the contrary, I have found that many ‘off-year’ shows are better. You’ll find the contractors will take more time with the smaller exhibitors and the quality of the leads generated is better vs. the quantity of the ‘on year.’”

What I thought was most interesting from Mr. Foster is this statement: “I think the main reason why many [contractors] are not coming is [stated in an] article in Appliance magazine. It stated that hvac was a very mature market. In mature markets, there’s not a lot of new, innovative stuff happening.

“Our industry as a whole is not a real exciting industry as our products are ‘out of sight, out of mind,’ and a homeowner will spend more on a Jacuzzi tub that they only use once a month than on the whole hvac system which is used 24/7 and keeps them comfy and able to use that Jacuzzi only once a month.”

Finally, here’s Mr. Foster’s conclusion: “Let’s face it, this is a box industry. The guys with the bigger boxes help draw in those contractors the rest of us are looking for. Without them, you’re not going to get the numbers of contractors that these exhibitors help draw.”

Your letters regarding this topic are still welcome.

Skaer is editor-in-chief. He can be reached at 248-244-6446; 248-362-0317 (fax); skaerm@bnp.com (e-mail).

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