The International Builders’ Show was held at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. (Photo by Michael McConnell.)
ORLANDO, Fla. - Even though the Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigerating Exposition (AHR Expo) is just around the corner, and will also be held at the Orange County Convention Center, several HVACR manufacturers decided it was in their best interests to exhibit less than a month earlier at the International Builders' Show (IBS).

Most had the same sentiment as Dennis Laughlin, president of Arzel Zoning (Cleveland): "We think we have to be here," he said of attending the Jan. 13-16 event, only to return Feb. 7-9. "We think it's a market we should be in, and that's why we are here. It's not always about the bottom line or how many leads you get. Sometimes you have to plant the seed."

By educating the masses, word can spread. "We just saw sales come in from last year," said Laughlin.

"Let's face it, lead times for builders are months and years, not weeks or days. We take names and follow up. We come here to spread the word. It's an educational event."

At the Midwest Snips booth, Harold Cody, marketing manager, and Robert Besser, sales manager, prepare to give away a motorcycle. (Photo by Michael McConnell.)
Like Arzel, Rheem Air Conditioning Division (Fort Smith, Ark.) wanted to be noticed by the thousands of builders who came to see what was new that they could incorporate - just like the window people, the woodwork people, and everyone else in between.

Rheem was there to make sure builders knew what they were all about. Rheem spread the word about its Builder Group, a team of residential new construction specialists who consult exclusively on customized comfort systems "to maximize profits for builders, while meeting every buyer's healthy home and comfort preferences."

"Before, we didn't necessarily have a builder program established," said Keith Davenport, marketing communications supervisor. "Now we do. We thought it was important to be here."

Rheem Air Conditioning Division President J.R. Jones was on hand, more than happy to converse with attendees at the company's 30- by 60-foot booth. Ed Raniszeski, director of market development and communications, was handing out the company's Builder Group CD, which contains information on its comfort products, volume purchase incentives, and customized Web-based upgrade option programs.

Show attendees play “Jeopardy” at the CertainTeed booth. (Photo by Michael McConnell.)

Meetings Planned

Honeywell International (Morristown, N.J.) brought in its New Construction Contractors Council (NCCC) before the doors opened to inform them about its new builder program. Jay Schrankler, vice president, marketing, Automation & Control Solutions, said the company wanted to give its top customers a rundown of the program before trying to sign up builders.

"We certainly want the top 100 builders on our side," said Schrankler. "We are also targeting those who build custom homes."

The NCCC is comprised of the top 15 residential contracting firms that "represent visionary construction leadership from across the U.S.," according to Honeywell.

The company formed the NCCC to provide a national forum "where contractors could share best practices and explore ways to supply local building communities with ideas to increase profitability and customer satisfaction."

"With input from the nation's top contractors, Honeywell can better equip the residential building community with tools to build more energy-efficient homes," said Levi Bouwman, home builder national accounts sales director for the manufacturer.

In its builder program, Honeywell guarantees builders a specific amount of sales revenue for every home buyer who meets certain requirements. In essence, Schrankler said the company wants to be the single source for builders, fulfilling their insulation, HVAC, structured wiring, security, and indoor air quality needs.

"We can offer so much for the builder," said Schrankler. "That's why we are here."

Fedders featured its new ductless mini-split air conditioner line at the show.

Product Introductions

Dick Schul, Emerson Climate Technologies (St. Louis) group vice president, said the IBS provided a unique platform for communicating to builders "that they are missing a valuable opportunity to improve customer satisfaction and increase home sale prices."

By understanding and utilizing advanced and integrated HVAC solutions, builders can significantly increase human comfort without sacrificing energy efficiency, he said.

"The HVAC industry is currently undergoing a transformation, which is being driven by changes in regulations and advances in technology," said Schul. "Only by being aware of these changes and understanding how they will affect their industry can home builders take advantage of the opportunity presented and continue to meet the growing needs of homeowners."

Emerson featured a number of technologies at the show, including its UltraTechâ„¢ Home Series and the White-Rodgers ComfortPlusâ„¢ zoning system. The Ultra-Tech provides a grouping of advanced, energy-efficient products that can either stand alone as an individual application, or can be combined "for a complete system solution," the company said.

Rheem showcased several high-efficiency air conditioners at the show, including the Rheem Prestige Series 18-SEER unit.
Fedders Corp. (Liberty Corner, N.J.) used the IBS to introduce its latest ductless, mini-split air conditioner line; ultra-quiet and compact 13-SEER central air products; and all-position, 80-percent AFUE furnaces. It also presented a new line of Trion by Fedders® tabletop and console electronic air purifiers.

"One major advantage of the ductless mini-split is that it provides high cooling power in a compact design," said Todd Duckwitz, senior manager Product Planning, Residential HVAC.

"With Fedders' 24-volt DC motor low-voltage feature, there is no complicated wiring." The mini-split is said to be cost-efficient and easy to install for the contractor, with energy and installation cost savings for the consumer.

Duckwitz also said the new compact design of its 80-percent AFUE furnace makes it one of the smallest in the industry at 35 inches tall. In addition to typical standard features, "these furnaces are built with heavy-gauge aluminized tubular heat exchangers, completely weld-free with double the standard requirements for life cycle with no signs of wear or corrosion," he said.

Aprilaire displayed its whole-house dehumidifier at IBS.

Present And Accounted For

Several manufacturers were under the American Gas Association's umbrella, including ICP (Lewisburg, Tenn.), Lennox (Dallas), Trane (Tyler, Texas), and A.O. Smith (Ashland City, Tenn.). The Gas Appliance Manufacturers Association (GAMA) was there as well, spreading the word on natural gas and propane appliances and amenities.

A.O. Smith introduced the company's ProMax® XL circulating loop exchanger, designed for installation with its ProMax® Side Loop (SL) residential gas water heaters to provide domestic hot water plus an isolated source of hot water for other closed-loop applications.

According to Cliff Deidiker, A.O. Smith Water Products Co. residential product manager, the development of ProMax XL was a result of increased consumer demand for popular amenities such as radiant floor heating, fancoil heating, and hydronic air-handling units in homes.

Lennox was also in attendance, sharing booth space with Lennox Hearth Products (Orange, Calif.).

On the cooling and heating side, Lennox displayed several of its top products in its Dave Lennox Signature Collection. Lennox Hearth Products introduced several products, including its first nonlouvered, flush-hearth gas fireplace, the Montebelloâ„¢.

Aprilaire (Madison, Wis.) displayed an array of products, most designed to supply the home with healthy indoor air. Robin Pharo, new construction channel manager for Aprilaire, pointed out the Aprilaire whole-house dehumidifier.

"According to Building Science Corporation, high humidity levels in homes can lead to problems with mold, corrosion, decay, and other moisture-related deterioration," she said. "An Aprilaire installed dehumidifier provides builders with the ability to sustain and protect the value of the homes they build from the damaging effects of moisture."

Goodman (Houston) was present, touting among other products its 12- and 10-SEER packaged gas/electric units. Al Knight, product manager - split systems, promised the company would be back at the AHR Expo, although the company will feature PTACs at that show.

Advanced Distributor Products (Stone Mountain, Ga.) displayed its evaporator coils, air handlers, unit heaters, and UV lights. Joe Bush, manager of marketing and business development for ADP, said he believed his company had to be present. "These are the people we need to reach," he said.

Wirsbo’s D’Mand system is designed to provide hot water quickly, resulting in energy and water savings for homeowners.

Hydronics And Insulation

There were more than a few radiant heating system manufacturers, who thoroughly enjoyed the attention they were getting from passersby.

"I think more and more that the consumer sees the value in radiant heating," said Jim Black, a representative from Warmboard Inc. (Aptos, Calif.). "We have builders coming up and they are impressed with what we have to offer."

In this case, Warmboard was showing off its radiant subfloor, which does not use concrete. The company said it combines a structural subfloor and "a thermodynamically sophisticated radiant panel into an elegantly simple system." As the panels are installed, a modular channel pattern is de-signed to automatically produce the tubing layout.

Watts Radiant (Springfield, Mo.) had all its products on hand, including its infrared digital thermometer, the Inframeterâ„¢. The device is designed to help radiant contractors identify heat loss from a room by aiming it at a window; look for thermal striping across a radiant floor by pointing it at the floor; and troubleshoot by "seeing" pipe temperatures and then pointing the meter at the company's HydroControl device.

Uponor Wirsbo (Apple Valley, Minn.) had its spread of PEX tubing, fire sprinklers, and hydronic radiant floor heating systems. Its D'mand® hot water delivery system is designed to provide hot water quickly. It is installed with the Wirsbo Aquapex® plumbing system.

"Homeowners can receive hot water in seconds," said Dale Stroud, marketing director. "It's not often that you can obtain both convenience and savings from one product."

CertainTeed (Valley Forge, Pa.), Owens Corning (Toledo, Ohio), and Johns Manville (Denver) were among the insulation manufacturers present. CertainTeed showed more of its roofing, siding, decking, railing, and fencing offerings. Johns Manville displayed its Formaldehyde-freeâ„¢ fiberglass building insulation products.

Owens Corning reached out to builders with its WeatherProtectRâ„¢ waterproofing system, Weatheresistâ„¢ door and window flashing tape, and Pink-capâ„¢ attic stair insulator.

Publication date: 01/31/2005