NEW YORK — Sean Blake walked the aisles of the 66th annual 2014 Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigerating Exposition (AHR Expo) for the first time this year. He is an engineer just out of college and in his words, “It’s all interesting and I am learning a lot. My plan is to come for all three days next year.”
Blake was one of the 61,000 people that participated in the AHR Expo, which was held at the Javits Convention Center in New York. The 18,000 exhibitor personnel worked feverishly before and during the show to maintain a smooth and engaging experience for the 43,000 attendees. According to to the International Exposition Co., long-time managers of the AHR Expo, the 10 inches of snow dropped by a winter storm were not enough to keep attendees away.
“We were obviously very concerned when the weather forecast predicted there would be a snow storm on opening day and arctic cold the last two days of the show,” said Clay Stevens, president of the International Exposition Co. “However, we were encouraged when we saw thousands of people pouring into the show as if the weather wasn’t even a factor. We were very happy with the attendance, as were all the exhibitors and attendees we spoke with.”
CRUISING THE AISLES
Those who braved the storm and the cold spent time in exhibitor booths engaging new products, asking questions, and developing ideas for the future application of HVACR equipment.
Staff at the WaterFurnace International booth described a good mix of people coming through the booth including architects, design-build contractors, commercial contractors, residential contractors, and engineers.
Mark Kuntz, vice president of product development and engineering, Mitsubishi Electric, said he was encouraged by the change in conversation with attendees about variable refrigerant flow (VRF) technologies.
“At previous shows we had to start the conversation explaining to attendees what variable refrigerant flow technology is, but at this show, people are coming and seeking out the booth because they want to know more about the technology they have already heard of,” said Kuntz. “After 10 years in the industry, we finally feel like we’ve moved past the introduction phase and we are here to talk to how this technology works and what its benefits are.”
Announced previous to the AHR Expo, the Innovation Award winners were honored on Jan. 22., during the show. Each of the 10 companies gathered to receive their awards and public recognition while they waited for the final announcement of the 2014 AHR Expo Product of the Year Award. Near the end of the ceremony, Emerson Climate Technologies was named the overall winner for its Next Generation Copeland Scroll variable speed compressor product line.
The $12,525 raised from entry fees from the 2014 AHR Expo Innovation Awards competition was donated to the Youth Action YouthBuild (YAYB) organization based in New York City’s East Harlem community. AHR Expo donates the awards entry fees every year to not-for-profit organizations in cities where the show is being held. Since its inception, more than $125,000 has been donated to organizations throughout the United States. Many such organizations have used the donations to enhance their HVAC systems or help train industry technicians.
“We are delighted that such a worthwhile organization will be able to use this money to improve the lives of deserving individuals, and for its commitment to green construction and smart energy reduction in affordable models,” said Stevens.
While discussing products and trends with manufacturers, questions about 2013’s economy and 2014’s expectations arose.
Michael Albertson, senior vice president of sales and marketing, WaterFurnace International, noted that 2013 overall was a little bit slow but encouraged attendees that he was looking forward to an increase in business in 2014.
“We’re starting to see that consumer confidence is rebounding and we are hoping this will help increase home starts,” he said. “We believe that the secondary school market or public school market will start increasing as far as the rate that they are building schools. The private sector is pretty well funded from a school standpoint so we have seen some of that in 2013, but we think that’s going to increase in 2014.”
Kuntz is expecting the industry will experience continued recovery.
“We’re seeing a lot more funds free up. Projects that have been on hold are kicking off and getting underway,” he explained. “I think we’re going to see some real acceleration in the whole industry’s growth this year.”
Next year’s AHR Expo will be held Jan. 26-28, 2015, in Chicago.
For more information, visit www.ahrexpo.com.