HVACR Week is to the HVAC industry what the Indianapolis 500 is to auto racing: an anticipated industry event that always lives up to its reputation for excellence.

This year, at the birthplace of auto racing, the HVACR industry's premier showcase for residential and commercial contracting put the pedal to the metal and roared into action at the Indiana Convention Center.

'Winner's Circle' Quality Events
HVACR Week — produced by Penton Media, Inc., and the staffs of Contracting Business.com and HPAC Engineering magazines — had high attendance, as contractors from around the U.S. told us they weren’t waiting for the economy to improve; they're doing all they can to be successful. As Steve Miles, president, Jerry Kelly Company, St. Louis, MO always says: "Recession? What recession?"

Contractors had no trouble "starting their engines." Many early arrivals from among the thousands in attendance streamed into the Indiana Convention Center, and made their way to two dozen sessions covering a wide variety of crowd-pleasing residential and commercial HVAC topics.

Social Media Buzz
Social media was prominent in many exhibits on the show floor. Emerson Climate Technologies had a contest for anyone who snapped a photo while inside their booth and posted or tweeted it during the show. They also conducted a live tweet, mentioning topics and updates during a very well-attended technical seminar starring Karl Zellmer, vice president of air conditioning sales at Emerson Climate Technologies. Emerson also conducted a "Tweetup," which according to company sources, was attended by some heavy hitters in the HVACR industry.

Chris Mays, commercial market manager, air conditioning division of Emerson, said the social media build up began weeks before HVACR Week started. "During the build-up to the HVACR Week event, our Copeland Scroll Facebook page saw post views go up 30%, and post feedback was up 27%. We also saw a significant increase in Twitter followers for @Copeland_Scroll and @Copeland_Chris during the month of September," Mays said. Other booths displayed Quick Response (QR) codes for attendees to scan with their smart phones for a chance to win prizes.

Some exhibitors also made attendees feel right at home amid the hustle and bustle of the exhibits. The Service Roundtable, for example, served up beer at the day's end, and tasty cappuccino. Service Roundtable CEO Matt Michel reported that new member enrollments in the Service Roundtable were 50% higher that they’d been at past events. Always a valued HVACR Week supporter, Service Roundtable also pre-registered the most members of any group for this year's show.

'GeoDay' Brings Geothermal to Life
An added bonus to this year’s HVACR Week was "GeoDay," sponsored by ClimateMaster. More than 150 contractors attended a day-long introduction to geothermal technology. John Bailey, senior vice president of sales and marketing for ClimateMaster, said contractors were interested in learning about the size of the geothermal market.

"Once they saw the growth rate of geothermal, they understood there was a market waiting to be served," Bailey said. GeoDay consisted of an indoor seminar session, followed by a visit to an off-site demonstration of the overall simplicity of geothermal installations.

"I believe many dealers thought that geothermal was more complex than it really is," Bailey said. "Once they looked at the process, and realized there are a large number of willing and qualified partners available for turn-key ground loops, they were quickly put at ease."

Inspirational Keynoters
Two keynote speakers graced the main stage at 2011 HVACR Week. Trane presented former U.S. Air Force Captain Scott O'Grady, whose F-16 was shot down while enforcing a no-fly zone over Bosnia in 1995. O'Grady survived for six days alone behind enemy lines, avoiding Serbian patrols day and night, before he was rescued by U.S. Marines.

O'Grady inspired the crowd with his story of survival and the power of positive thinking. He had more than a few attendees verging on tears as he told how his faith in God, his family, and the United States left him never feeling alone despite the odds against his rescue or survival.

Larry Janesky, president of Dr. Energy Saver, offered a look at how operating a business presents contractors with a great opportunity to make the world a better place — for their families, customers, and employees.

"Success is more than doing things right, it's doing the right things," Janesky said. "Ultimately the only thing you can control is yourself. You can't control the economy, or your competition, or even your employees. Do the right things and let the rest take care of itself."

2011 HVACR Week was produced with the support of: Carrier, Emerson Climate Technologies, ClimateMaster, Dr. Energy Saver, Hill Phoenix, Rheem, Ruud, Trane, Service Roundtable, Nordyne, One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning, and Jackson Systems.

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High Marks for Seminars
Contractors were impressed by HVACR Week's educational sessions.

"The classes are excellent, covering business management to technical topics, and the trade show floor was one of the best I've ever seen," said Steve Weber, president, Boulder's One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning, Newark, DE.

Dennis Williams, president, Williams Comfort Air, Russell Springs, KY, was making his third visit to HVACR Week, because of the great show he experienced last year.

"I always find good product information on the show floor, many new and innovative things," Williams said.

Ben Middleton, territory manager for Milwaukee Stove & Furnace, a Milwaukee, WI-based distributor, brought a group of his contractor customers to HVACR Week because he knows it's always a guaranteed benefit.

"I haven't missed a Comfortech since it started 16 years ago," Middleton said. "I think it's important to attend this show if you're going to be in the industry, to learn about new, cutting edge things. The trade show is invaluable, and provides information I can bring back to the office. I also network with friends I've made by attending."

"Comfortech raises the bar, so contractors can make a decent living, not just scratch by. That's why it's important to bring contractors to this event," Middleton said.

Commercial Symposium, Optimum Buildings Conference
Despite its origins as a residential and light commercial seminar and trade show, HVAC Comfortech has grown, to now include the Commercial HVACR Symposium and the Optimum Buildings Conference.

This year's Commercial HVACR Symposium featured presentations by leading commercial contractors:

  • Peter Pobjoy, Southland Industries
  • Bob Tudi, CEO, and George Gittinger, Design/Build manager at TUDI Mechanical, Pittsburgh, PA
  • Todd Carver, president, Adrian Mechanical, Adrian, MI
  • Mark Crockett, vice president, Crockett Facilities Services, Bowie, MD
  • Michael Nahas, director, safety and health, EMCOR Fluidics, Philadelphia, PA.

Watch for articles on these topics in upcoming issues of Contracting Business.com.

The Optimum Buildings Conference began with a keynote address by Anto Budiardjo, president/CEO of Clasma Events, Inc., titled "The Perfect Energy Storm—Coming Soon to a Building Near You." Budiardojo said increasing energy costs, climate change, the growing acceptance of sustainability, and shifting global economics have converged to change the way people think about energy.

Optimum Buidlings sessions included presentations by Steve Melink, PE, Melink Energy; Jeff Urlaub, PE, and Michael Luster, PE, of MEP Associates, LLC; Eric Utterson, PE, 8760 Engineering; and Gary Wamsley, PE, CEM, JoGar Energy Services.

Rheem's Chris Peel: 'Creating A New Space in the Industry'
Rheem Manufacturing Co. provided HVACR Week contractor attendees access to the new look of their technologically advanced and highly efficient heating, cooling, and water heating products. Chris Peel, senior vice president and COO, talked with us about the industry’s reaction to their groundbreaking product introductions.

"With this product introduction, we'’ve made an impression and created a new space in the industry," Peel said. "Customers are excited with the pricing and the complete product line, and we’ve seen more contractors moving to Rheem since the initial roll out in January."

Peel added that 2011 has been a good year for the company. With Rheem's investments in hybrid product development as well as in the overall business, he believes they will be in a winning position when the market finally comes back. In fact, he shared that the company’s focus through 2015 is on product leadership, a stronger focus on customer relations, as well as both operational and foundational excellence. The latter two are internal focuses that are designed to strengthen the company so it will be better prepared to serve Rheem's HVAC contractor customers.

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"The key for us, is to make contractors successful," Peel said. "Our responsibility is to create more efficient products that provide real value. That means we must continue to be innovative, and invest in new product development."

Innovation, however, must be backed up with training and education. Peel said Rheem is developing specific training centered on integrated technologies that are focused on both contractors and distributors. The company is launching its "Rheem Academy" in January 2012, which will include online and in-person programs. The in-person training will be held regionally, as well as at Rheem’s headquarters in Atlanta.

Based on the crowds that visited the booth during HVACR Week, it seems that Rheem's value proposition has struck a chord with contractors.

National Comfort Institute Annual Meeting
National Comfort Institue (NCI), Sheffield Lake, OH, held its annual conference during HVACR Week.

"The Heat is On!" focused on both the technical aspects of offering "total home performance" solutions, as well as its sales challenges, and how HVAC contractors can integrate this new business model into their existing business.

"Performance-based contractors recognize the opportunities to make their customer’s lives better, and are able to clearly explain their options," said NCI Director of Sales and Service Leadership, David Holt, who was one of the presenters for the NCI conference. "This approach leads to higher average sale prices, higher gross profits and happier customers," Holt said.

On the exhibit floor, NCI experienced record contractor attendance for its hands-on "Performance Town" training exhibit.

Exhibit floor sampling
Among the many products on display to give contractors a jumpstart into 2012:

  • Genteq's EON motor, which features advancements in starting, reliability, air-flow regulation, and audible noise reduction.
  • Emerson's PT Pro Mobile App, which provides on-the-go access to pressure and temperature conversions.
  • JMD Corporation, owners of Aeroseal LLC, discussed the launch of the "new Aeroseal," with a program focused on helping HVAC business owners and other contracting professionals rapidly increase business revenue. AeroSeal seals ducts from their interior.
  • WaterFurnace's GeoStar Aston geothermal heat pump features robust microprocessor controls, compressor monitoring, and digital thermostats.

Thank You! See You Next Year!
Another HVACR Week is in the books, and a bigger, better event is in the planning stage (see below). For those of you for whom this was your first HVACR Week, we hope it was everything you imagined it would be. For regular attendees, thank you for your continued support. We look forward to seeing you all next year in Chicago, when the show takes on a new name and additional value, as Mechanical Systems Week.

WHVACR: Empowerment
The 8th Annual Women in HVACR

Conference (WHVACR), sponsored by Emerson Climate Technologies, had "Empowering the Woman Within," as its theme. WHVACR President, Nita Brooks, began the day with a welcome, and a re-cap of WHVACR 2011 accomplishments. Vice President Patti Ellingson led the group in making "vision boards," to visualize what they really want in life, and empower themselves to match those images and desires. Keynote speaker and HVAC expert Mike Moore shared five steps toward empowerment, and believing you can succeed. Jaimi Lomas, Contracting Business.com 2011 Woman of the Year, shared her story of determination, perseverance, and maintaining a strong work ethic. Jaimi also shared her Top 10 tips on being an empowered woman in the HVACR industry. Marita Bower, owner of "A Fighting Chance," a rape prevention and self-defense program for women, Noblesville, IN, shared hands-on self-defense techniques and safety tips designed for women.

WHVACR co-founder and past president, Ruth King, discussed success and prosperity, and what it means to members. whvacr.com

2012 Event Expands to Include Plumbing & Hydronics

To provide all-inclusive coverage of the diverse capabiilties of many Contracting Business.com and HPAC Engineering readers, we're adding educational sessions and exhibitor space for hydronics and commercial plumbing. The expanded show will be known as Mechanical Systems Week. It will take place at the Schaumburg Convention Center, Schaumburg, IL. Join thousands of your industry peers as we debut the newest improvements to this industry-leading show. See You At Mechanical Systems Week 2012!