Mike Murphy

There is a fine line between good information and too much information (TMI), a term I first heard when my daughter expressed it at the top of her lungs as she walked in on her father while shaving - sans clothes.

At the International Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigerating Exposition (AHR Expo) in Orlando, thousands of booth peddlers will be grabbing people by the arms and pulling them in from the aisles to hear about the outstanding products awaiting their rapt attention. Admittedly, I do not understand half of what I see at the big show, but the other half I can usually render an educated judgment as to the worth in the global HVACR community - which for most of us really means: “If I can’t use it in my business, it’s not important to the global HVACR community.” As is common with most booth-strollers at a major industry trade show, such judgment is usually rendered within a couple of minutes. Then, we are either ready to relax and learn much more about the product, or ready for the feet to keep on moving - if it were not for the peddler who still has a wrench-tight hold of our arm.

Having been both booth peddler and booth-stroller, I love the AHR Expo. Some of my best memories of this industry seem to have occurred in late January while ambling along red carpeted aisles with about 40,000 HVACR comrades. Perhaps you feel the same. Invariably, one instance always stands out, and usually it is an occasion of the TMI variety.


The year was 1998. Jim Bob was hawking industrial filtration systems, the kind that reminded me of a mosh pit of red, blue, and yellow plastic balls at a McDonald’s Playland™. I shall never forget that the chemical-laden, multi-colored balls each reacted to a variety of individual toxins, removing said toxins from existence through a series of filtrations. As the toxin came in contact with ball after ball, the toxin was rendered helpless. One does not necessarily have to understand how or why the multi-colored balls remove the toxins; however, be convinced, this really does happen. It falls under the category of half of the things I do not understand. I thought it a miracle of modern science.

However, Jim Bob wished to ensure that I understand the multi-layered filtration process. He removed the mystery as he methodically explained the process, first engaging me with a thoughtful question.

“You wear underwear right? Now, when you pass gas, think of the underwear as a first layer of filtration, with your trousers acting as a second layer of filtration. The different colored plastic balls work independently to make the toxins benign, just like your underwear and trousers, each one taking out part of the toxin.”

Not being one normally at a loss for words, I stood mouth agape in front of Jim Bob. I am not certain of this, but I believe my eyes fell from their sockets. He took this as a sign that I had not yet comprehended the process, and went into further detail. Soon regaining my verbal skills, I assured him that I did, in fact, know people who had passed gas, and that this analogy made perfect sense to me.


After that particular AHR Expo, and when my children were younger, I began to have difficulty sitting for a long time on the parent benches in the McDonald’s Playland. The smell of sweaty kids in a pit of multi-colored plastic balls made a Big Mac and fries unappealing to the taste. Of course, my thoughts also drifted back to Jim Bob, filtration, and the AHR Expo.

You, no doubt, surmise that this filtration experience has been indelibly lodged in my memory. Perhaps it is a good thing, for I now have much more information, possibly too much information, about industrial filtration than I had ever dreamt possible when I first walked into Jim Bob’s booth. However, I no longer frequent McDonald’s Playlands.

A former employer once told me that our goal in business, as in life, is to make memories for people. Jim Bob, undoubtedly, you are the man.

The NEWSwill, once again, be roaming the aisles of the AHR Expo, looking for memory building moments among the thousands of products and services to be found at the big show. If you happen to be in Orlando, come by our booth No. 2642. We have plenty of other stories and memories to share with you, and you’ve probably got a few of your own.

Publication date:01/25/2010