It’s tempting. Oh, so tempting. When the Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigerating Exposition is played out at the Anaheim Convention Center in late January next year, one of the items this editor-in-chief should bring is a megaphone.

Yep. Megaphone.

This may not only be a difficult item to pack and pass through airport security, but chances are Hank and Clay Stevens and the International Exposition Co. contingent will not approve of yours truly towing a megaphone onto the show floor — much less using the device to get the attention of all exhibitors inside, aisle by long aisle.

The purpose of the megaphone would be to get a simple message across, loud and clear.

“Hear, ye. Hear, ye. The Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration News asks all exhibitors to come to our booth to provide us with details concerning what you are showing that’s new at the AHR Expo. Come one, come all.”

Selfishly, this would mean a little less hoofing for all News editors. (Interesting factoid: According to show management, if an attendee walked the entire floor at the 2003 AHR Expo in Chicago, the distance traveled would be almost five miles. And, in The News’ case, most editors, including myself, walked the entire show floor at least once each of the three days.)

Of course, using a megaphone isn’t exactly encouraged in journalism classes. But, from an editor-in-chief’s point of view, I’ll consider any option to help The News capture everything new from the expo.

It’s a daunting task to get all that is new from nearly 2,000 exhibitors, but for the umpteenth year, that was the exact mission of The News in traveling to the Windy City for the January 27-29 “Show of Shows.” What you have in your hands is our comprehensive coverage of new and exciting developments in the HVACR industry.

If We Missed You …

I must make it clear here that we may have missed a few new products. I must also make it clear here that this was definitely not intentional. Every attempt was made by our seven editors to hunt down and find new equipment and offered services in assigned product areas. In this issue, we bring to you what we uncovered — at least Part I.

My point to AHR Expo exhibitors: If The News didn’t nail down your new product within the pages of this Post-Show issue, please do not hesitate to e-mail me the information for a future issue of The News.

Another key point is that the focus of The News’ show coverage is on new products. As our contractor subscribers have informed us in no uncertain terms, they do not want to read about “the same old products.” They want to be updated on new products and recent innovations.

As mentioned before, this was our goal this year — as always. We hope you like what we found in Chicago and reported here.

Again, know also that this is just the beginning. More expo reports will be placed in future issues. After all, with all that took place, we could not fit it all into this lone edition. No way.

Crunching The Numbers

From this publication’s vantage point, the 2003 edition was as grand as the numbers indicated. More than 58,000 HVACR professionals (over 38,000 registered visitors and 20,000 exhibitor personnel) from 117 countries filled the aisles of spacious McCormick Place. And this happened in spite of the frigid Chicago weather and a cold U.S. economy.

Show management was naturally thrilled with the record turnout. The number of 2003 registered visitors breaks the old record of 36,881 established at the 1995 show in Chicago. Likewise, the 1,877 listed exhibitors breaks the old record of 1,771 established at the 2001 show in Atlanta.

At more than 400,000 square feet, the 2003 show also broke the 1999 record for exhibit space. New all-time records were also established for the number of foreign exhibitors (254) and the number of first-time exhibitors (259).

Huge numbers are nice for show management and its annual cosponsors, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI). On the other hand, manufacturers, as well as contractor attendees, want to make sure that their return on investment is worth the trek. Based on remarks both on and off the record, many (if not most) left the Windy City pleased with what they had gathered or pleased with the quality of traffic that had stopped by their booth.

“The booth traffic has been good,” said Lee Spradlin of Delta Control Products Inc. (Phoenix), after day one. “I think the economy is having a bit of an effect, but we are still getting the people we want and quality leads.”

Said Michael Pratt of Paramount Concepts Ltd. (Springboro, Ohio), “Phenomenal! I could have gone home after the first day and been happy. I can’t imagine a better investment for our trade show dollars. We had so much traffic that we haven’t had time for a meal.”

The News shadowed one contractor for a few hours, just to see if he liked what he touched, heard, and saw.

In the words of a famous cereal commercial, we think Cincinnati contractor Bob Gersden liked it. He really liked it. (For the full story, see “The Expo From A Contractor’s Perspective” in this issue.)

Examining the big picture, the 2003 AHR Expo had everything from Krack to Big Ass fans. Honest. (The manufacturers occupied booths 1823 and 3100, respectively.)

In the words of Ed Sullivan, it was a really big show. We bring to these pages (and future issues) what we believe to be the main features — especially for those who could not be present or get to all exhibitors.

Next year, a megaphone just may help.

Or, get me in trouble.

Mark Skaer is editor-in-chief. He can be reached at 248-244-6446, 248-362-0317 (fax), or

Publication date: 02/17/2003