One of the recurring topics in the HVACR industry concerns annual trade shows as sponsored by various associations in the industry. Booth visitors seem to always ask, “What’s new?” Many manufacturers just aren’t in a “something-new-every-year” mode.

Even when exhibitions and educational seminars are combined at one annual conference, a contractor being urged to attend such events from a half dozen sources may want to ask if it is worth doing so every year.

Within the industry there are those who prefer to do their thing every other year. On the exhibition side, the North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers (NAFEM) holds its expos just in the odd-numbered years. On the seminar side, the Purdue University Compressor and Refrigeration Conferences are just in the even-numbered years.

Now another organization has joined the every other year approach. The Refrigeration Service Engineers Society of Canada (RSES Canada) has decided to end 64 years of annual conferences. (It should be noted here that RSES Canada is part of RSES International, but RSES Canada conducts its own educational seminars and exhibitions separate from RSES International, which is continuing annual conferences.)

RSES Canada will hold its educational conference and exhibition in the odd-numbered years. Those conferences will also include the board and business meetings required of an association, and will continue to be held throughout Canada. RSES Canada will still have a board and business meeting in the even-numbered years, but will hold those meetings in Toronto at the time of the CMX Show.

Talk of scaling back to an every-other-year exhibition and education conference has been going on for some time. Coincidentally, the decision to go every other year came about at the most recent conference this past spring in Niagara Falls, Ontario. The event came just a few weeks after the end of fighting in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and mere days after the World Health Organization backed off on its inclusion of Toronto on its list of SARS cities. Those two headline-grabbing events caused a number of cancellations for the Niagara Falls conference.

RSES Canada officials noted that its annual conferences were pretty much financial break-even propositions. That is not the case with a number of trade organizations, who often rely on revenues from annual meetings for a significant chunk of income.

So I offer some questions for industry consideration. Aside from the legal necessity of holding annual business meetings and regular board meetings, what value does the industry derive from many trade associations holding annual events with educational conferences and exhibits? And if there is a trend to every other year, how does an association budget for such a situation?

Peter Powell is refrigeration editor. He can be reached at 847-622-7260, 847-622-7266 (fax), or

Publication date: 08/04/2003