The dust has settled and another HVAC Comfortech is in the books. For the fourth time, Contracting Business brought the industry's only residential and light commercial seminar and product showcase to the city of Nashville, and for the 10th time, the show grew with a record attendance for Nashville.

Approximately 3,300 people descended on the Nashville Convention Center to participate in the pomp and circumstance of Comfortech's 13 SEER University. Contracting Business' intrepid editor-in-chief, Mike Weil, kicked the event off on Thursday morning by being the first graduate of this HVAC collegiate program.

However, we're getting ahead of ourselves — the week of September 12, 2005 was filled, Monday through Saturday, with events, from the annual meeting of the National Comfort Institute to the 2nd annual meeting of Women in HVACR. York International held its York Days conference as well. In addition, the annual NATE Certified Technician Competition took place, and the Nashville chapter of the Air Conditioning Contractors of America held a golf tournament.

On Wednesday evening, HVAC Comfortech was officially kicked off with an opening reception, sponsored by Emerson Climate Technologies. The event included Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood look-alikes serenading the crowd that packed the Grand Ballroom of the Renaissance Nashville Hotel.

The next morning, an auditorium full of attendees started their day with a t-shirt shoot, courtesy of the Service Roundtable's Randy Hilton. Using a nitrogen-powered launcher, Hilton fired t-shirts into the audience. Will Andrews of Design Air Systems, Columbia, SC snagged one of the flying shirts and found himself the lucky winner of a free registration to HVAC Comfortech 2006 in Baltimore, MD next September. Congratulations, Will!

This year, attendees were treated to two key note addresses: one by Barbara Keil of Keil Heating and Air Conditioning, Riverside, NJ, addressed lessons learned from growing up in a family owned business and the challenges of being a woman in the HVACR business. Keil is the winner of Contracting Business magazine's 2005 Residential Contractor of the Year Award.

The second keynoter was Scott Barbour, president of Copeland Corp., Sidney, OH. Scott has 15 years of experience in the HVACR industry. He's been in the Emerson family of companies since 1989, joining Copeland in 1992. Today he is responsible for all Copeland Air Conditioning activities, including sales, marketing, engineering, manufacturing, quality and finance.

From where he sits, the HVAC universe is a very happy place. He shared his insights on how contractors are reacting to the standard efficiency changes and what opportunities lay ahead.

Throughout the four-day conference, attendees had their pick of 23 speakers in the general sessions, as well as two "Presidential Tracks" that targeted slightly more advanced topics for the owners and managers of HVAC companies.

In addition, the product showcase floor featured 207 exhibitors occupying 417 10 ft. X 10 ft. booth spaces and displaying the very latest products and technology. The 13 SEER theme this year lead to exhibitors introducing many of their new product lines geared toward meeting and exceeding the new Federal efficiency standard.

Once again, we brought back two interactive exhibits, The Wall, an adventure in air balancing, sponsored by the National Comfort Institute, and Consultant's Corner, organized by Drew Cameron of HVAC Sellutions. Both events had contractors lining up on the show floor.

New in 2005 was a special panel discussion entitled, "13 SEER 101: How the Changes Affect the HVAC Value Chain." The panel consisted of three contractors, a national distributor, as well as a manufacturer. They led an energetic discussion with the standing-room only group of attendees.

Also new in 2005 was a Technicians Day program that allowed field service/installation personnel to receive basic training on some of the new 13 SEER features of the equipment being introduced at the show. All in all, HVAC Comfortech 2005 was a landmark in education, training, and new product exhibition. Thanks to all of you who attended and we look forward to seeing you again in Baltimore in 2006.