When you find something that works, you stick with it. But eventually, you want to make it better. That was the plan of the ContractingBusiness.com HVACR Week planning team as they huddled together early in 2010. We knew it wasn't going to be easy to improve on the HVACR industry's best-loved, and we believe, most anticipated collection of HVACR shows in one location.
But improve on it we did. And when it was "Game On," the show was ready to roll, and HVACR contractor attendees were off and running.
HVACR Week, Sept. 22-24 at the Baltimore Convention Center brought thousands of HVACR contractors and manufacturers from all across the U.S. together for high-impact learning and networking. It was an event focused on positivity and growth, in an industry that’s been held back by an economic downturn.
"HVACR Week is now in its second year, combining HVAC Comfortech, the Commercial HVAC Contractor Symposium, and the Engineering Green Buildings Conference. It remains as the place where the HVAC industry meets," exclaimed Master of Ceremonies Mike Weil, Editor-in-Chief of host publication, ContractingBusiness.com, a Penton Media publication.
"HVACR Week creates an educational, networking, and product showcase event that truly represents all aspects of the HVACR Industry. It's new. It's now. It's here. This really is the place to be for HVACR professionals. HVACR Week attracts leaders from every corner of the industry. They're the movers and shakers who make HVACR go," Weil said.
Forget the Bad News and Move On
HVACR Week 2010 was about making a better future amid uncertain times, and grabbing up new ideas and methods to make HVACR companies prosper. Later, contractors couldn't wait to get home and attack the fall heating season like a child pouncing on a pile of leaves.
The three educational programs of HVACR Week — HVAC Comfortech (for residential HVAC contractors); the Commercial HVACR Symposium (for commercial HVAC contractors); and the Engineering Green Buildings Conference (for design, facilities, and consulting engineering professionals) — gave show attendees of every specialty many opportunities for hearing new business management ideas.
The aisles of the show floor included a large number of new exhibitors, and provided hundreds of products and services for HVACR contractors to add to their installation and service inventories.
Taking the Time to Learn
Attending HVACR Week requires a commitment. However, time off for learning is the top priority for many successful HVACR contractors, and HVACR Week provides a boatload of help. Just ask Pat Nugent, president of John Nugent & Sons, McLean, VA.
"We're here to improve our company, by staying up-to-date on cutting-edge ideas," Nugent said. He closed the company for one entire day, and brought 50 employees to the Friday events.
"I want our dispatchers, and others who have to talk to customers, to know what these products are all about," he said.
"We're here to learn about the next big idea," said Pat Nugent's brother, Steve, who added that the Nugent company became a regional leader in geothermal systems, thanks to presentations at HVAC Comfortech.
"The things we learn at HVAC Comfortech differentiate us from the competition, during those meetings with a family around the kitchen table," said Nugent & Sons employee Mike Jackson.
"There's lots of education here," agreed Ramon Hernandez, president, R&R Mechanical, Philadelphia, PA, who came to the show with a group of contractors associated with ABCO Supply. Hernandez then issued an invitation to his fellow contractors: "Come to HVACR Week, get to meet people who can help you build your business, and learn more about what's out there for business owners and technicians," Hernandez said.
Mike Eruzione Shoots and Scores!
The U.S. Olympic Team's Gold Medal victory in 1980 was recently named the most signficant sporting event of the 20th century by the editors of Sports Illustrated.
Show attendees relived the pride and glory of that event all over again, during a lively and poignant keynote address by team captain, Mike Eruzione.
Eruzione's speech was peppered with concrete analogies relating sports to business. From start to finish, Eruzione deliverd one life-lesson zinger after another, squarely into the net.
"I've never met a person in my life who was successful because they were lucky. Success is a result of the time and effort you put into it," Eruzione said.
"People and companies are successful because they believe in old-fashioned values. They have a work ethic, pride, commitment, and respect. They're not afraid to come to work each day, and roll up their sleeves, with the goal of being the best.
"When you're in an atmosphere where everyone believes they can accomplish anything, that's a great place to be," Eruzione said. "Have fun. Enjoy what you're doing. Understand how you're going to persue your goals: through time, effort, and work."
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Emerson Reception, Museum Party Pleasers
HVACR Week is known for giving attendees many good reasons to work hard and play hard. This year was no exception. The Wednesday Night Welcome Reception, sponsored by Emerson Climate Technologies, was once again a fitting way to meet with friends, make new ones, and wind down before the next day's learning. The Thursday night event was a party at the Baltimore Science Museum, sponsored by LG Commercial Air Conditioning and Rheem/Ruud.
Awards & Inspiration Highlight Friday General Session
The many attendees who made it to Friday's general session (after some expected late-night revelry) were glad they did. Business consultant Mark Matteson used his personal story of bouncing back from personal defeat to help attendees realize the possibilities life has to offer. Among his advice, Matteson encouraged the audience to list five goals that they'd like to accomplish during the coming year.
"The greatest reason for setting a challenging goal, is who you have to become to get there," he said. Other highlights of the general session included:
- Carol Papesh, CFO, Conditioned Air, Naples, FL, received the ContractingBusiness.com HVACR Woman of the Year Award.
- Jim Isaac of Isaac Heating and Air Conditioning Inc., Rochester, NY, was inducted into the Contracting Business.com Hall of Fame.
- The North American Technician Excellence (NATE) Golden Toolbox Award was given to Jack Bartell of Virginia Air, Richmond, VA.
- The Tom McCart Award for Consultant of the Year was presented to Drew Cameron, president, HVACSellutions, Pocopson, PA.
- Luxaire and Arlington Heating and Air Conditioning presented the Make- A-Wish Foundation of the Mid-Atlanic with a check for $7,500, to help make a child's wish come true.
- Gillette Air Conditioning, San Antonio, TX, was presented with the 2010 ContractingBusiness.com Commercial Contractor of the Year Award. The company is now in its 50th year.
"My wife Margie and I, and later, our three sons, built the company up from one to 75 trucks, and we just keep on going," said company founder, Vince Gillette, Sr. "This is a great business to be in." Read the article "Holding Down the Fort"about the Gillette company's path to excellence.
- Tommy Estes, owner/president, Estes Heating & Cooling, Atlanta, GA, received the ContractingBusiness.com 2010 Residential Contractor of the Year Award. (see "Story of a New Beginning" below)
A Winning Game Plan
ContractingBusiness.com Editor-in-chief, Mike Weil, in discussions with his team at press time, said he continues to hear positive comments on HVACR Week, as he attends events by other HVACR associations. He also continues to receive congratulatory emails from contractors who were at the Baltimore show.
That's what we like to hear. And why we are here, for you, our ContractingBusiness.com readers. In reviewing our playbook and execution of our strategy for the 2010 HVACR Week event, we're glad for what we were able to accomplish in Baltimore. We also hope all show attendees are better for the experience: that they'll become better business owners, better employers, and better employees. And, that they'll be with us again in Indianapolis next year, and bring a contractor friend.
Story of a New Beginning
Tommy Estes, president/owner of Estes Heating & Cooling, Atlanta, GA received the ContractingBusiness.com 2010 Residential Contractor of the Year Award during HVAC Comfortech's Friday morning general session. He related the story of how he and his team stabilized and improved the company after two years of flat sales from 2007 to 2008.
"We decided we weren't going to participate in the recession. I had faith that we could pull together as a team and make it happen," he said.
Sales in 2009 were up by $3 million, and more than 900 service agreements were added. In 2010, the company sales are up by 16% over 2009.
"Our team is much stronger as a team than I could ever be alone," Estes told the Comfortech audience. "There's no way a company can consistently grow unless you have an effective team that understands the goals and objectives of the entire company," he said.
Read "Win 1+Win2 = Win3," the story of the Estes company's transformation.
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HVAC Comfortech Product Showcase Awards
With more than 70 entries in 12 different categories, the judges for the 2010 HVAC Comfortech Product showcase awards had a tough task in naming only 12 winners. Our judges based the competition on what products were the most innovative and useful to HVAC contractors. During the show, winners were presented with a sign stating that they were a winner for their booth.
Additionally, ContractingBusiness.com editors recorded interviews with representatives from the winning companies. Recorded interview videos will appear on the ContractingBusiness.com website over the next year, leading up to the 2011 HVAC Comfortech in Indianapolis, IN.
The following are the winners in the various award categories:
Controls: Emerson Universal Furnace Control Kit
Business Services: Service Roundtable Membership
Forced-Air Cooling: American Standard ForeFront Air Handler
Forced-Air Heating: Climatemaster Tranquility Split Geothermal System
Hydronic Equipment: Rheem Integrated HVAC & Water Heating System
Indoor Air Quality: Rotobrush aiR Wireless Air Duct Cleaning System
Instrumentation/Diagnostics: Testo 550 Refrigeration System Analyzer
Miscellaneous: ECR International's Freewatt Plus
Software: Team Management Systems Service Agreement Calculator
Tools: Appion Inc.'s Tez Speed System
Training: Building Service Institute's Fix-Right Flat Rate Repair Price Book
Zoning Equipment: LG's Flex Multi-Split.
Visit HVACRWeek.com for a listing of seminar topics covered during the show, and watch for articles based on show presentations in future editions of ContractingBusiness.com.
We Race to Indianapolis in 2011
Indianapolis is the home of open-wheel racing. It will also be home to HVACR Week 2011, Sept. 21-23. Our show team is now hard at work, to make the 2011 HVAC Comfortech/HVACR Week more supercharged and high-powered than ever before! We're planning to break some land speed records for high-powered educational programs, and the 'LPM' (learnings per minute) will be dizzying!
Visit hvaccomfortech.com for show updates.
From the staff of ContractingBusiness.com and HVAC Comfortech/HVACR Week, we say thank you to all the sponsors, exhibitors and contractors who made HVAC Comfortech 2010 and HVACR Week a huge success.
See you next year, in Indianapolis!