WESTPORT, Conn. According to a recent AHR Expo and ASHRAE Journal survey sent to more than 1,400 HVACR manufacturers worldwide, there is growing optimism for improving economic prospects in 2017. Based on survey results, 86 percent of the respondents expect their sales to grow in the coming year.

The survey consisted of nine questions, all in relation to anticipated overall market and individual business performance. Results were then compared to a similar survey sent in the fall of 2015, which gauged show exhibitors’ expectations for 2016.

“It’s always interesting to see how trends across the exhibitor landscape continue to shift,” said Clay Stevens, president of International Exposition Co. “We’re pleased to note the increase in responses around anticipated business growth as well as an increase in good and excellent outlook responses regarding a majority of the HVACR industry’s various market segments. Combining these positive predictions with the fact that the 2017 AHR Expo will be the largest held in the show’s 88-year history, we’re anticipating a stellar year for business activity among exhibitors and attendees.”

When asked to rate prospects for business in 2017, 98 percent of survey participants indicated a positive outlook. Within these responses, 24 percent answered “excellent,” representing nearly a 10 percent increase from 2016. Additionally, 54 percent responded “good,” 20 percent responded “fair,” and only 2 percent rating prospects as “poor” for the coming year.

Additionally, 86 percent of survey respondents said they expected their business to increase in 2017. Of these, 27 percent believed their business would increase by more than 10 percent, indicating a 6 percent jump from 2016. Respondents forecasting their business growth to be between 5 and 10 percent in 2017 increased 5 percent from 2016 to a total of 38 percent. Twenty-two percent of respondents indicated business growth of less than 5 percent, with 11 percent anticipating business activity to remain the same for 2017. With only 2 percent of respondents anticipating their businesses to decrease next year (compared to 8 percent surveyed in 2015), overall results showed a notable uptick in expected sales for 2017.

In further qualifying sales performance, respondents were asked to share their comparative sales results between 2015 and 2016. Twenty-three percent of respondents indicated sales had increased significantly (by more than 10 percent), while 34 percent stated sales had increased somewhat (up to 10 percent) from 2015 to 2016. With 29 percent indicating their sales had stayed about the same, an additional 11 percent noted they had decreased somewhat (by less than 10 percent), and 3 percent indicated a sales decrease of more than 10 percent. Overall, when comparing these performance results to those anticipated for 2017, respondents generally seemed to feel they would perform as well as, if not better than, they did between 2015 and 2016.

Overall, the light commercial market was identified as offering the most promising outlook for 2017, with 74 percent of respondents rating it as excellent or good. The hospitals/health care market followed, receiving a combined total of 71 percent excellent and good ratings, and the heavy commercial market came in at a close third with a combined 70 percent of excellent and good ratings. Laboratory and clean room applications represented the category of least anticipated growth next year, with less than half (46 percent) of respondents indicating either an excellent or good business outlook in its regard.

Further factors, such as fuel costs, the reliability of the U.S. utility grid, increased application of heat recovery, variable refrigerant flow (VRF) and ductless systems, movement from tube-and-fin to microchannel solutions, and increased awareness/use of push-to-connect fittings, were also mentioned as important trends for the coming year.

Publication date: 1/30/2017

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