Ladies and gentlemen. Tonight we have a really big “shoo.” For those of us old enough to remember, these are the words that televison variety show host Ed Sullivan used to say each Sunday night as he opened the evening’s entertainment. In 2007, the “really big shoo” for the HVACR industry was in Dallas, TX: The Air-Conditioning, Heating, & Refrigerating Exposition.

Mike Weil ImageBy all accounts this show was well-attended (more than 27,000 attendees crowded the aisles and booths) and the Dallas Convention Center, for three days in January, was converted into a Galleria of the latest HVAC products and technologies — a veritable international shopping mall.

Because not everyone in the industry could attend this Texas-based event, the editors of Contracting Business donned their western attire (cowboy boots aren’t meant for walking down all those aisles, let me tell you) and bucked the crowds, looking to lasso in the danged best products they found. We share their catches with you on page 60.

When not bronc busting on the show floor, the editors also attended a number of the ASHRAE meetings that were held in conjunction with the expo. A summary of those meetings, as well as mini-profiles of the AHR Innovation Award winners, appear on page 67 and 68.

One thing is for sure — the “big shoo” set the stage for 2007 as being the year we’ll see a stampede toward more onboard communications and the growing use of the Internet in conjunction with HVACR systems. Energy control and conservation is always a hot topic, but this year, the Building Automation and Controls Showcase area of the show seemed to be the main stomping groounds for the herd of attendees who were sometimes eight to 10 people deep in the booths.

Manufacturers such as Emerson Climate Technologies have redoubled their efforts to build products that talk to each other. For example, one show stoppper was their UltraTech™ communicating system, an integrated network of components that work together to allow HVAC contractors and the systems they design to deliver better home comfort and energy efficiency.

Emerson certainly isn’t alone in this endeavor. Honeywell’s Enterprise Building Integrator, Tridium’s Vykon Energy System, along with introductions by Echelon, PSG Controls, and at least eight other companies showcased “smart” technologies. It really is starting to look like we’re in the 21st century!

Speaking of the 21st Century, our latest recipient of the Commercial Contractor of the Year Award is San Diego-based A.O. Reed, and Co. Learn how this 93-year-old, $105 million mechanical contracting firm, under the leadership of President Steve Andrade, sets the standard for quality in the HVACR industry. Obviously A.O. Reed is no tenderfoot when it comes to technology, customer service, and quality. Read all about them, beginning on page 70.

So sit down (but don’t squat with your spurs on), relax, and read all about the big “shoo,” the Commercial Contractor of the Year, as well as the other collection of business management, news, and educational editorials in this issue.