The year has only two weeks left, and I have only one more opinion column left in the bag. I think of a few claims and predictions of years past. They are a bit like New Year's resolutions - some came true, some didn't.

Remember the great Y2K scare? On New Year's Eve 1999, when we flipped from 12/31/99 to 01/01/00, many computers weren't going to know what Year 00 was and would assume it to be either 1900 or bad input. The world was in danger of near stoppage when every computerized object was at risk of shutting down because of the Millennium Bug. Didn't happen.

If you're a follower of the very late Nostradamus, you know the world could have ended at any time, we've just been lucky. The years 2006 through 2012 were referred to by the 16th century French physician and astrologer as the Times of Trouble. These times are to be full of war, despair, and evil, but also of hope and promise. (Sounds more like President Bush fence-sitting his way through a press conference.)

One prediction that did come true: after nearly a year of the tabloids promising it was so, Jessica Simpson and Nick What's-his-name really are splitting up. Damn, another TV holiday special bites the dust.

What might 2006 hold for the HVAC industry and business in general? Here are a few predictions:

  • The significance of the Internet is coming to center stage for marketing organizations. In a recent survey, 80 percent of firms stated that Web marketing would become increasingly important; direct marketing and telemarketing efforts would continue to slide. Count on it.

  • The Sarbanes-Oxley Act regulates corporate financial records, defining what must be recorded and how long it should be kept. These requirements are expected to cause companies to increase spending on technology in 2006. Put some money aside for this one.

  • The U.S. automakers still haven't gotten the message: build a more reliable product. HVAC contractors will purchase more foreign-made fleet vehicles.

  • Oil prices will level out during 2006 - until the first hurricane strikes the Gulf Coast. If long-term weather forecasts are correct, you'll be pumping expensive gas in September, again.

  • The 3rd quarter will be interesting as the question of repair or replace will be answered by consumers in the wake of the 13 SEER transition. Better beef up on your indoor air quality selling skills.

  • Some inventory shortages that are plaguing parts of the United States today, will resurface in Q3 '06. But maybe that will help to answer the question of repair or replace.

  • It's Coming ... on Jan. 9, 2006. And you're going to like it, I guarantee it.

    Happy Holidays!

    Mike Murphy is editor-in-chief. He can be reached at 248-244-6446, 248-244-2905 (fax), or

    Publication date: 12/19/2005