When making a bet, sometimes you have to go all-in.

And more than 700 industry professionals doubled down on their futures by attending the inaugural Service World Expo (SWE), a new, innovative industry convention designed to transcend the traditional trade show experience.

The inaugural Service World Expo, a multifaceted seminar designed to provide superior business services to residential HVAC, plumbing, and electrical contractors, was held Oct. 26-28 at the Tropicana Hotel in Las Vegas. The event, presented by Service Nation Inc. and BNP Media — parent company of The NEWS — set out to do something new. More than the same old show in the same old city with the same old attendees, SWE pioneered its own path via face-to-face networking, intimate training sessions, exclusive evening receptions, interactive trade show exhibits, and much more.

“All I can say is wow,” said Matt Michel, CEO and president of Service Roundtable. “This is the most exciting residential/light commercial show I’ve attended in a long, long time. Every room was packed, the speakers were incredible, and there was a lot of energy. People were excited about what they were hearing and learning. 

“I think the industry is hungry for a show like this,” continued Michel. “If Service World is this good right out of the chute, imagine how much better it will be in 2017. Every contractor owes it to their business to attend Service World every year.”


Derek Daly paced the stage quickly — showing a penchant for speed that remains as strong today as it did during his 17-year racing career. With sweat beads forming upon his now bald head, he stopped mid-stage to address a room full of HVAC contractors. 

“Where does extraordinary live?” asked Daly, during his opening keynote presentation. “What does it look like? What would it look like in your business?”

A few additional paces to his right, he continued, “As business owners, you’re expected to take risks. In fact, you’re paid to take calculated risks,” he said. “Sometimes, you have to push it as far as you can. While these risks are intelligent risks, at the speeds we run, sometimes things can go wrong.”

Daly is no stranger to life-threatening risks.

In 1984, he suffered one of the hardest crash impacts a driver had ever survived when he hit the wall at Michigan International Speedway at 212 mph. After 14 surgeries and three years in therapy, he returned to full-time racing, where he not only competed in the 12 Hours of Sebring — one of the premier motorsport endurance races in the U.S. — he won it in consecutive years.

Daly called winning a choice and challenged contractors to overcome their obstacles and join him on victory podium.

“The greatest power we all possess is the power to choose. What got you here today is not good enough to get you to where you want to go. You must ask your team to achieve beyond its best. You must make a choice to step closer to extraordinary because, if you do, it doesn’t matter what your competition does.”

Daly was one of four keynote speakers, including the “Blue Collar Coach” Kenny Chapman; Adams Hudson, founder and CEO of Hudson, Ink; and comedian Jeff Havens.


Educational sessions were broken into four “lanes,” covering leadership, sales, business development, and marketing topics.

Todd Liles, founder of Service Excellence Training, took a critical look at hiring and firing millennials in his “Killing the Professional: How to Create a Sustainable Team Member” presentation.

“When you’re recruiting, you have to interview extremely well. You have to ask the right questions to make sure you’re hiring the right people,” he said. “Millennials think differently than older generations. Is it bad? No, but it’s different. You have to consider where they’re coming from. You have to communicate, meet their needs, and do what it takes to find the right employees. Millennials are not the future, they’re our now. We’re all hurting for help. We have to be flexible and willing to do what it takes to find the help we need.”

Ken Goodrich, president and CEO at Red Falcon Equity in Las Vegas, is renowned for his ability to purchase, restore, and sell HVAC companies. Over the past 26 years, he has built and sold seven HVAC and plumbing companies to a national home service provider. In 2008, he was commissioned by American Residential Services (ARS) to re-engineer and grow eight of their existing businesses throughout the Southwest U.S. After completing the eight business turn arounds, he served as the western zone president for ARS, where he led 39 air conditioning and plumbing operations throughout Western U.S.

During his “Market Leader: Acquire the Keys to the Kingdom” presentation, Goodrich discussed how and why he purchased Goettl Air Conditioning in Phoenix; Walton’s Heating and Air in Corona, California; and The Honest Plumber, Heating, and Air in Las Vegas.

“The relationships between a company and its customers are where the value lies in our industry,” Goodrich said. “These relationships are where the revenue lies.”

He offered a few tips contractors should consider during the acquisition process. “Don’t bother buying infrastructure. You don’t want their old trucks. What you’re really after is their leads, and the price should be formulated on a cost-per-lead basis,” he said. “Additionally, don’t criticize a business when negotiating. Remember, this is the seller’s life work you’re buying. Praise everything you see until the contract is signed. Also, don’t offer pointers, either. If you do, the seller may take your advice, fix what’s wrong, and refuse to sell the business.”

Finally, Goodrich said you have to be aggressive.

“You have to be in the right place at the right time and do something about it. Find out what’s going on in your community and act when opportunity arises. When you identify a potential acquisition lead, go get it, just like you would an air conditioning replacement; they’re really not that much different.”

In addition to Liles and Goodrich, more than 10 others held training sessions, including Ron Smith, founder, Ron Smith & Associates; Rodney Koop, founder and CEO, The New Flat Rate; Drew Cameron, president of HVAC Sellutions, and more.


Hundreds of contractors attended the event, and their response was overwhelmingly positive.

“This was an awesome show,” said Angie Snow, vice president, Western Heating & Air Conditioning in Orem, Utah, who also was honored as the inaugural Service World Expo Woman of the Year. “The speaker lineup was better than other shows we’ve attended and the format was nice. The breakout sessions have been standing-room only and the training sessions were as good as I’ve ever seen. The caliber of the attending contractors and consultants was superb. It’s nice to spend some time with other contractors to hear about some of their struggles and ideas.”

In addition to Snow’s award, Joe Cunningham, president of SuccessTrack Network, received the inaugural Consultant of the Year Award.

David Dombrowski, general manager, Rapid Repair Experts, Raleigh, North Carolina,  said he absolutely loved the show. “The trade show floor was designed and organized very well. Traffic flowed very well and everything happened on time. I don’t make it to a lot of these shows, but I’ll definitely be back to this one.”

“I’ve made some great connections at this show and will bring home about four or five different things that will surely save me money,” said Kathe Stewart, CEO and co-owner, Precision Air Conditioning & Heating LLC, Memphis, Tennessee. “There are a lot of key business people here, and I’ve enjoyed meeting with my peers and discussing ways we can better our business.”

“Given that this was an inaugural year for Service World Expo, it exceeded the expectations of all of us here at The NEWS,” said Mike Murphy, publisher of The NEWS. “Not only did it meet our goal but blew it out of the water — there were more than 700 contractors and exhibitors. Next year should be even bigger with many people re-signing for 2017 before they left the Tropicana Hotel. I think the mix of an innovative trade show format and the relevant discussion topics in the education sessions made a big difference. Contractors are already planning to make the trip to the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas for the 2017 event.”

“Service World Expo was a huge success by all accounts from the attendees and exhibitors I spoke with during the event,” said Bob Miodonski, publisher, Plumbing & Mechanical magazine. “The Tropicana certainly exceeded my expectations. The trade show area, hallways, and meeting rooms were bright, and the staff was very helpful. I also was impressed by the mix of plumbing and HVAC contractors who attended.”

“It’s no secret that people in business are always seeking to improve their company’s performance,” said Jack Sweet, editor, Reeves Journal. “The easiest way to do that is to absorb a lot of information from people who have already been there and who have already dealt with the same issues you might be dealing with now. Attendees to this year’s SWE got that in spades — just look at the speaker’s names and check their resumes. You won’t find a weak link in the bunch.”


In addition to the great keynote speeches and breakout sessions, another popular part of the inaugural Service World Expo was the trade show.

“It has been an incredible show. We have been really excited about the number of contractors coming by,” said Tom Jackson, CEO of Jackson Systems LLC. “They have done a phenomenal job with a different layout of the booths so people need to meander around and that encourages people to stop by and talk. We would highly recommend this show and look forward to coming back in 2017.”

Contractors walked through 31,000 square feet of exhibiting space that had been sold out for months as 80 companies showed their products this year.

“We’ve had a great show with a lot of great contacts. We talked with contractors from all around the U.S.,” said Gary Hsieh, director of product and business development at Lux Products Corp.

Attendees could win more than $8,000 in prizes by visiting exhibitors and playing the Service World Expo Game in the show app. Top point earners won prize packages, including consulting and training, products and tools, electronics, furniture, and more.

“We asked a lot of our exhibitors to come and do something different,” said Liz Patrick, vice president, Service World Expo. “People today are looking for engagement and entertainment.”

Products being shown at the Expo included:

• The Qtube from DynaKool Solutions, a division of DynaTemp Intl. This new product has just been released and is being promoted as a possible alternative to copper tubing. The company states the Qtube is designed to withstand high pressure and can be applied to industries where high-pressure resistance is vital.

Desco showcased FieldEdge, its new cloud-based service management software. Incorporating all the latest technology, the product is said to improve all parts of a contractor’s business, from operations to marketing to reporting.

• Jackson Systems showed contractors the new Zone-ESP. This zone control system with built-in static pressure control eliminates the need for a bypass damper. The system works like any standard zone control system with one exception — as zone dampers open and close, the ESP-400 module continuously monitors the system static pressure and, if required, sends a signal to zone dampers that are in the closest position to open to a point where the proper static pressure level is maintained.

Service World Expo 2017 is scheduled for Sept. 7-8, 2017, at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. For more information, visit http://www.serviceworldexpo.com

Publication date: 11/14/2016

Want more HVAC industry news and information? Join The NEWS on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn today!