DALLAS - The HVAC industry flooded the Lone Star state of Texas for the 65th annual International Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigerating Exposition (AHR Expo). Attended by more than 51,000 people, the Dallas Convention Center was filled with 1,951 exhibiting companies and 33,891 visitors; all stretched across 397,000 square feet of exhibit space. There was a lot to do and see during the convention and among the visitors and exhibitors was HARDI and many of its members.
“We were very pleased with the attendance and the enthusiasm on the show floor,” said Clay Stevens, president of the International Exposition Co. that produces and manages the AHR Expo. “The aisles were packed for almost all three days of the show.”
DISTRIBUTORS AT AHRThe show may have opened on Monday, but the activity surrounding the event began that weekend. Multiple hospitality events were held at venues stretched across the city. HARDI kicked off the AHR Expo with an evening icebreaker hosted at the Hyatt Regency Dallas. There, members and guests gathered to network as well as enjoy dinner and cocktails. Making their way around the room were Brian Cobble, president of HARDI, and Talbot Gee, executive vice president and COO of HARDI. The event provided attendees about three hours of socializing and connecting with their peers as they prepared for the AHR Expo to begin.
At HARDI’s booth the next day, representatives from the organization’s membership discussed with attendees the value of HARDI membership and some of the features it provides. Highlighted this year were the association’s new conferences that are replacing the regional conferences, as well as the HARDI Unitary HVAC Report 2012. Released in the fourth quarter of last year, the report comes from the HARDI Unitary HVAC Program, powered by Better Data. It is a sales data collection, analysis, and reporting system designed to provide HARDI and its distributor members with a method for tracking the HVACR equipment market. Education programs such as HEAT.U were discussed as well.
First time attendee, Jamal Bivens stopped by the HARDI booth and he noted how overwhelming the largeness of the AHR Expo could be. Bivens works at the Fort Worth, Texas, branch of AC Supply Co.
“I’ve been looking for things that I recognize and trying to notice things that I don’t,” he said. “I’m amazed. This world’s quite larger than my little world in Texas and I am impressed with the products I’ve seen so far.”
Industry veteran James Truesdell, president of Brauer Supply Co., headquartered in St. Louis, has been attending the AHR Expo for many years. He spent time at the HARDI booth networking with current members and answering questions of those who were interested in HARDI’s offerings. Even though Truesdell has been coming for many years, he continues to find the value of attendance and participation in the AHR Expo.
“We have been coming to the show for decades and we’ve always found it a wonderful opportunity to see the newest products and technology that’s coming out, make contact with our existing suppliers, and meet some new people,” he explained. “It’s always interesting to be here.”
PRODUCT OF THE YEAR AWARDEDThe first day of the AHR Expo was seemingly one of the most crowded. Thousands swept through the aisles to make connections and see what new offerings were available for their industry sector. A diverse crowd from students to CEOs engaged exhibits and participated in activities throughout the show.
One of the highlights was the 2013 AHR Expo Innovation Awards Program. The winners from each of the 10 categories were honored in a ceremony during the show. Afterwards, Rheem Manufacturing Co. was named the 2013 AHR Expo Product of the Year winner. The company won for its H2AC rooftop unit, a restaurant integrated a/c and water heating system.
“We congratulate Rheem and all the winners of the AHR Expo Innovation Awards,” said Stevens. “These companies deserve recognition for the innovative products they are creating, products that improve the environment where we work and live by making it healthier and more comfortable while using less energy.”
The entry fees from this year’s competition totaled $10,350. This was donated to Family Gateway, a Dallas-based organization that helps homeless children and their families achieve independence. The organization intends to use the money to replace manual thermostats and old a/c system motors in an effort to increase efficiency and reduce operating cost.
ENERGY AND INTELLIGENCEEnergy efficiency emerged as one of the main themes of exhibitors’ products and booth presentations. From controls to energy efficient features, attendees saw a variety of products that were eco conscious and concerned with both the financial and environmental costs of operation.
This factor, among others brought another theme to the forefront - smart technology. Many of the changes made in the equipment seen at the AHR Expo this year were the addition or improvement of controls and computer chips. These enhanced integrations can assist with diagnostics as well as push mechanical equipment performance to new levels of digital performance.
MORE THAN EXHIBITSThe AHR Expo provides multiple educational and interactive opportunities to attendees. This year, there were more than 100 educational sessions and three New Product and Technology theaters. In those theaters, presenters gave detailed talks on new technology and its application to specific industry sectors. There were also special sections on the floor, including the Building Automation and Control Showcase and the Software Center.
Not to be left behind in the advancement of technology, the AHR Expo rolled out a new app - AHR Expo - to help exhibitors and attendees navigate the aisles and communicate special events. The app featured a full event schedule, exhibitor listings and locations, product listings, conference sessions, floor plans, speaker listings, and special event locations. Those using the app were able to bookmark favorite sessions and speakers for future reference; create and revise personalized agendas; and find relevant links and downloads.
According to show organizers, the app was intended to help save attendees time and increase their AHR Expo experience and productivity.
Next year’s AHR Expo is scheduled for Jan. 21-23 in New York.
Visit www.ahrexpo.com for more information.