Many of us in the HVACR industry look forward to the AHR Expo (ASHRAE Show) every year. It is without doubt the largest trade show of its kind in the USA and probably the world. The AHR Expo draws virtually every major manufacturer of HVAC equipment, refrigeration equipment, hydronic pumps and boilers as well as all of the related industries like controls, hardware, software, tools, filters, belts and even service and construction vehicles. The show is massive and all that attend will need time, patience and comfortable shoes if they plan to see it all. The products that are shown and the many company representatives that are there provide countless opportunities for the attendees to see the right products and talk to the right people. Usually the show is presented in Chicago, every other year, with the off years in various locations around the country such as New York, Philadelphia, Orlando, San Francisco, Anaheim Atlanta and this year, Las Vegas.
The Expo took up more than half a million square feet. That is about fourteen thousand square feet larger than the previous largest show. Sixty thousand people were expected to attend from all fifty states and one hundred forty countries. As it turned out, there were probably more that eighty thousand people on hand.
I was fortunate to be able to attend this year’s show in Las Vegas and it was certainly everything that I would have expected. In the following paragraphs and pictures I will try to share my experience and present a feeling of what it’s like to attend.
Driving time from the Inland Empire of Southern California to the Las Vegas Convention Center is about three and a half hours so I left home planning to arrive at the show by the time it opened on Monday, January 30th at 10:00 AM
I arrived on time, but the parking and ultimate long walk from my car cost me another hour.
The crowds were very large, making it difficult to navigate the hallways and aisles at the show without bumping but everyone seemed to take that in stride. Food vendors were
strategically located around the show and there were food trucks outside the show as well. Lines at the various food vendors were always long and at times extremely long. The one Starbuck’s had a forever line throughout the show. The fact that the show was so crowded sounds miserable, but what it means is that everyone thought it was worth going to and they (we) were certainly correct.
When I first entered the lobby at the convention center I was greeted by a number of show representatives that pointed out available literature, maps and guides as well as bags to carry all of the things that I might pick up along the way. It was all very good information and the bags were a necessity. Every booth had information that would be helpful to someone in the industry. Not everything interested me but it is always a good idea to see what is available. There were approximately two thousand exhibitors so that means a lot of material, a lot of bags and a lot of walking.
On the first day of the show and my first of two days that I planned to be at the show, I decided to try to get an overview by traveling through the exhibitor areas to see everything and limit spending a lot of time in individual booths. That worked pretty well but I seemed to constantly run into people that I knew and that meant stopping for conversations along the way. It is always a pleasure to see friends that you may not see frequently. I halve been in the HVACR industry for nearly fifty years so it stands to reason that I have gotten to know a lot of people. I am humbled by the number of people that remember me and want to have a few minutes of conversation. I really enjoy having the time to interact with friends and co-workers from the past.
Because this show is so big and attracts so much attention the exhibitors all seem to make their booths look incredible. It is hard to overlook the effort that must go into setting up and tearing down these spectacular presentations after a three day show.
I was able to get a good idea of what companies were exhibiting their products and where they were located so that I would be better able to go directly to them and spend some quality time on my second (last) day at the show. I have no idea how much walking I actually did, but it seemed like it must have been several miles. There was very little seating available and what there was always seemed to be occupied. I was able to take a break and grab something to eat. By the end of that first day my legs were sore and tired and I was looking forward to checking into my hotel room a few miles away from the convention center. I spent a little time in my hotel room taking care of business for customers on my computer and then went out to meet an old friend in the hotel. By the time I got back to my room I was completely exhausted. I needed sleep!
The next morning I headed back to the show with a plan to spend some time in specific booths and talk to people that I have done business with for several years.
Fireye is a major vendor for George T Hall Co. and they had a beautiful booth filled with products that they offer. They have been a mainstay in the flame safeguard controls market for decades.
Honeywell is a vendor that I have worked closely with throughout my career. As you might imagine, I spent a great deal of time there learning about their newest products and programs as well as discussing any issues that were pending or had come up in the last year.
Functional Devices, the manufacturer of RIB relays and power supplies that we distribute, also had a great booth. We purchase many of their products for both contractor customers and for use in the UL panels that we build and sell. If you look to the right side of the picture, you will see that BACnet also had a booth. For those of you that are involved in building automation, BACnet and LonWorks are familiar names for protocols used in system communication. They were well represented at the show and there were talented people available to answer questions.
Veris Industries is another manufacturer that I have worked with for several years. They are a supplier of sensors, switches and other products that are widely used in the HVACR industry.
Emerson was very well represented at the show. They are the parent company for White Rogers who makes a full catalog of HVAC products including thermostats, pressure controls and flame sensors for residential and commercial furnaces and air conditioning equipment as well as aftermarket replacement components. They are also the parent company of ASCO Valves. ASCO provides solenoid valves, valve bodies and actuators as well as industrial gas valves. They have been a major supplier to George T. Hall Company for a very long time also.
BAPI is another fine manufacturer of temperature sensors and transducers as well as humidity and pressure devices. I have been associated with BAPI for many years and enjoyed an excellent relationship.
Armstrong is a name that showed up more than once at the show. Above is the Armstrong Monitoring Co. from Canada. They make a fine line of gas detection products, Armstrong booth specializing in hydronic products including pumps, motors, steam traps and an array of related devices.
This blog is turning into a pretty long, show and tell, so I should probably find a way to end it. Needless to say, I was overwhelmed by the 2017 AHR Expo in Las Vegas. There was something for everybody. If you have not been to one of these shows, I strongly recommend that you try to go to the next one or at least one that is fairly close to home for you. If you would like to see or learn more about this show you might want to have a look at their website. http://ahrexpo.com/.
If you need to purchase HVACR or Industrial Controls, or just need questions answered, please remember to contact the George T. Hall Company.