With the 2022 AHR Expo landing in Las Vegas, consider three tips to make your trip a winner:
If you haven’t yet, check out the monorail that shuttles between stations on the Strip and the Las Vegas Convention Center. Best to buy tickets in advance (maybe even required), but it can be pretty handy.
Don’t waste your time. Time may not be money, but it can get chipped away at any AHR Expo. One strong play is to build in some time away from the Expo floor now and then and get over to the rooms hosting free educational sessions.
Lastly, as always, decide how much you can lose before you start.
But back to those educational sessions for a minute. This year, consider some of these picks, made with distributors in mind, to increase the payoff for your time and travel.
Distributors on the Mic
Three sessions with actual distributor presentations and representation lead off these Vegas picks.
“State of the HVACR Industry” Leadership Panel Discussion
Tuesday / 10 a.m. – 11 a.m.
HARDI CEO Talbot Gee sits on what shapes up to be a high-insight conversation. Most of the events in this article are part of the AHR Expo educational sessions, but this is one of four free and open ASHRAE-sponsored sessions at the Convention Center. Gee will be joined by the presidents of ASHRAE, AHRI, the National Air Filtration Association, and the National Comfort Institute. They are in good hands, as Bryan Orr of HVAC School will lead the conversation.
BAS Has Gone IP!
Monday / 11 a.m. - Noon
Ken Sinclair of BuildingAutomation.com has been curating free sessions at the Expo for years now. This time, he has assembled a “2-day discussion forum featuring industry-experts eager to share their insights and answer questions on a range of topics relevant to smart buildings and building automation systems (BAS).”
Scott Cochrane, president and CEO at Cochrane Supply & Engineering, will kick off this concept by looking at the past year and where it fits within the big picture of increasing sustainability in BAS.
Building Systems Integration 101: Welcome to the Jungle
Tuesday / 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Kimberly Brown, technical services manager, finishes the one-two punch of Cochrane controls expertise. A main question is, “What system integration can we commonly find within a large building, and what does the roadmap look like to becoming an integrator?”
OK, that’s two questions, but that just means more answers. The interactive session will include basic elements of successful integrations, common tools and capabilities utilized, business practices, and selling tips.
Caution: Mildly Flammable Topic
If any industry trend deserves a jumbo-sized 90-minute slot these days, it is the HFC phasedown and corresponding rise of A2L refrigerants.
The Industry Transition To A2L Refrigerants: Where Are We and Where Are We Headed?
Tuesday / 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
In this free ASHRAE session, another exceptionally strong panel tackles the regulatory landscape changes in critical industry standards related to the transition to A2L refrigerants. The group will also look at necessary changes in service practices and associated codes.
This session’s experts include Dick Lord, senior fellow at Carrier; Helen Walter-Terrinoni, VP of regulatory affairs for AHRI; Jason Obrzut, director of industry standards and relations at ESCO Group; and Mary Koban, AHRI’s senior director of regulatory affairs.
As far as in-person opportunities to get the latest on this topic along with informed thoughts on it, that quartet is about as good as it gets.
Decarbonization / Electrification
Decarbonization — and more specifically, the electrification component — is progressing, but it does so at different speeds and across different levels of government and regulation. This year’s sessions come at the trend from high- and low-altitude perspectives.
Retrofitting for Net Zero: Decarbonization, Electrification and the Role of Smart Buildings
Tuesday / 11 a.m. – 12 noon
If decarbonization is a means, one of the ends is an increase in net zero buildings. Recently, the Biden administration also announced a new net zero initiative for federal buildings. The trend will bring significant changes to many buildings and the equipment they use.
In this AutomatedBuildings.com session, SES Consulting president Brad White will lead a discussion around some practical strategies and case studies for making deep carbon reductions in existing buildings.
Role of Boilers in the Age of Decarbonization
Monday / 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
The other driver behind decarbonization-related policy is significant motivation among business leadership to reduce emissions.
Here, John Lemke and Gregg Achtenhagen of Cleaver-Brooks explore ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero, the benefits and challenges of carbon capture, the availability of renewable fuels, and how electric/electrode boilers can play a role for owners and businesses.
HVAC Electrification Challenges That (Almost) Nobody Thinks About
Tuesday / 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
On the residential side, HVAC electrification for homes seems like a no-brainer as the electric grid gets cleaner and greener, but there are technical and regulatory challenges that could derail electrification if they go unaddressed.
Hear Ben Lipscomb, director of engineering and utility programs at the National Comfort Institute, delve into potential issues that the HVAC industry can tackle head-on, and about some broader potential barriers that are largely out of its hands, requiring a smarter grid or policy and pricing reforms.
Decarbonization as it Applies to Appliance & Equipment Standards
Tuesday / 2:45 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.
Finally, an overview courtesy of William McQuade, vice president of sector services at AHRI. In this last ASHRAE free session pick, understand how this big-picture trend translates to equipment bought, sold, and used by distributors and their customers.
The Business of Business
It’s not all global energy trends and refrigerant transitions out there. Many evergreen challenges remain for owners trying to operate their businesses a little better every week.
How to Prevent Callbacks and Warranty Returns
Tuesday / 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Bryan Orr, founder/president at HVAC School and Kalos Services, hosts his own session covering the processes, procedures, mindsets, and training initiatives that can help to prevent systems issues before they occur.
Orr will look at “cause and effect as well as tactics that can be employed at all levels from OEM, Distribution & contracting. We will cover systems from unitary, ductless, VRF/VRV all the way to parallel rack systems and everything in between with clear takeaways and open discussion.”
Counting Cash with Co-Op
Monday / 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Distributors might find some value in knowing what advice consultants are giving contractors about Co-op money. Rick Mears, QSC Business Coach at Quality Service Contractors, sums the session up this way:
Learn how to work with suppliers to secure incentive funds and learn how to co-market with your vendors. Discover how to decrease out-of-pocket expenses and build meaningful vendor relationships while decreasing costs, increasing name recognition, and enhancing bottom line results.
Pricing, Maintenance, and Financial Review Methodologies in the Changing World of HVACR
Tuesday / 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
THE PRICE OF BAD PRICING: Ruth King, profit & wealth shark and CEO at Women In HVACR / Business Ventures Corporation, cautions that “pricing using the traditional method of gross margins and markups can, more than ever, put you out of business.” (Courtesy Nick Youngson / Pix4free.org (CC BY-SA 3.0))
Ruth King, profit & wealth shark and CEO at Women In HVACR/Business Ventures Corporation, cautions that “pricing using the traditional method of gross margins and markups can, more than ever, put you out of business.”
This session covers the latest in pricing, maintenance benefits, and monthly financial reviews so owners can stand out from the competition profitably. King will talk about “easy actions to stay profitable, build wealth, and give back.”
Hire + Fire + Retain = Culture
Monday / 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Every distributor’s customer base faces workforce challenges. Pick up a tip or two from Danielle Putnam, president at The New Flat Rate, in this session sponsored by Women In HVACR.
Navigating through the national hiring crisis is one thing — but as Putnam says, “Fortunately, our industry is tough and there's no room for whining here.”
She looks to help attendees discover the answer to a key question: Who you really need on your team and when do you need them by?
Strolling the Expo floor is interesting, but new products and tech specs can largely be perused back home anytime. On the other hand, the insights and interactions in the educational program are one-show-only opportunities.
They don’t have to stay in Vegas — carve out some time to parlay these sessions into a better year to come.