NOVI, Mich. — Contractors and technicians from across the state converged in this Detroit suburb October 12 for the HVAC/R Expo, a trade and training event sponsored by the Behler-Young Co., a Grand Rapids-based distribution firm.
Visitors got to see new products, attend classes on topics ranging from online marketing to HVAC system surge protection to regulatory updates, and catch up with friends and colleagues in the industry.
Behler-Young’s first such event since 2016, held at Novi’s Suburban Collection Showplace, drew more than 100 exhibitors, and 2,000 guests were expected throughout the day. HVACR industry household names like Carrier, Bosch, and DiversiTech were represented, along with many smaller companies, business services firms, industry associations, and trades education programs.
“The vendor participation this year is phenomenal,” said Cameron Young, Behler-Young’s customer experience manager.
“It’s a great show. A lot of engaged people,” said George Groh, a regional sales manager at Sterling HVAC Products, based in Westfield, Massachusetts. Sterling makes radiant unit heaters and makeup air and rooftop equipment.
Behler-Young officials said attendees came from as far as Grand Rapids, Traverse City, and Gaylord, Michigan, and even Ohio. Attendees also included architects, engineers, maintenance workers, and trade school students, said Kari Schellie, Behler-Young’s senior marketing manager.
“I am really, really impressed. It’s been a steady stream of people,” said Brad Williams, an inside sales manager at Little Giant Pump Co., a pump brand based in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Talbot Gee, the CEO of HARDI, a trade association for distributors, offered an update on the state of the industry, which he said is facing headwinds after “a couple of extraordinary years.” Gee said indicators suggest that growth will be slowing while costs continue to grow, and that regulatory changes will complicate the picture.
But opportunities will still be available, Gee said, for those who know where to look for them and can keep updated on the economic forces at work.
“There’s a heck of a lot going on in our industry,” said Doug Young, the chairman and CEO of Behler-Young, and those who don’t keep up to speed will get left behind.
According to Doug Young, the show began in the mid-1960s and was originally called Brand-A-Rama. Five or six Brand-A-Ramas were held between the mid-’60s and 1985, he said, but after that there wasn’t another show until 2016. In the intervening 31 years, Behler-Young grew substantially, including taking on products from Bryant, a Carrier brand, in 1991.
Behler-Young’s next HVAC/R Expo is planned to coincide with the company’s 100th anniversary in 2026.