New products: That’s what The News editorial staff was instructed to search out and find at the recent International Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigerating Expo, held at the spacious Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, GA. In this issue, we begin to report on the new and innovative hvacr products, technologies, and solutions that were introduced.

I mention this is the first issue. While we’d like to incorporate all that we discovered in this edition, there was just so much to see and write about. But we know that contractors are looking for cohesive, detailed product information; therefore, more expo coverage will run in our February 26 issue and thereafter, if need be.

More than 1,300 industry companies showcased their pride-and-joy products and services. There were more than 385,000 sq ft of exhibit space to walk…and walk…and walk. Anyone who’s attended one of these super-sized trade shows can tell you, it’s both interesting and exhausting. (Funny how it’s more interesting earlier in the day, but some time in the afternoon, the exhausting part creeps up and takes over.)

Every year, this is a monumental task. I’d like to thank our editorial team for attempting to get to every nook, cranny, and exhibitor. But frankly, there are times when an editor approaches a booth and all the staff are busy talking to existing and would-be customers: answering a contractor’s question, filling out paperwork, etc. An exhibitor may not have time to talk to a reporter, and we realize that; after all, the company is there to sell its product.

These are only a few of the challenges that trade reporters regularly face at The Big Show. This year we turned that intensity up a notch by taking it to the web.



Online Learning Curve

Yes, this year The News provided daily reports from the Expo on our website. Our goal: to provide readers with day-by-day accounts of selected Expo and ASHRAE events via the Internet. This was our first attempt at the venture, and I’m here to say that we need more experience doing it, plain and simple. However, you have to start somewhere. I think many contractors will agree that while so many things look possible on paper, there’s no teacher like experience. It was fun flashing photos online of products, displays, and booth attendees, but it was not necessarily fun having only 10 minutes to produce a report on an early morning breakfast event. And I’m not even going to tell you the technical complications and computer glitches our web editor experienced. Let’s just say that technology is great when it works, but it’s a nerve-racking hell when it does not. The bottom line: We promise to refine and improve online coverage in the future. This print issue contains the first round of our detailed AHR Expo reports. The February 26 issue will contain the second round of coverage, in addition to features on the winners of our “Best Contractor to Work For” contest. Experience is indeed a good teacher, and practice makes perfect. Had enough clichés? Here’s one for the road: We have only begun to fight.

Skaer is editor-in-chief. He can be reached at 248-244-6446; 248-362-0317 (fax); skaerm@bnp.com (e-mail).

Publication date: 02/19/2001