• Zoned In: Energizing Contractors with Comfort Solutions & Business Building Ideas

    Nov. 9, 2012
    HVACR contractors make the most of their post-cooling season break by listening, learning, networking, and having some good time fun at 2012 Mechanical Systems WEEK in Schaumburg, IL.

    This past September, we welcomed more than 2,000 total participants to the 17th edition of this magazine’s seminar and tradeshow extravaganza: Mechanical Systems WEEK (which included HVAC Comfortech, HydronicsTech, and PlumbTech). It was the first show held in the Chicagoland area, where we joined forces with sister publication, Contractor magazine, and added seminars covering the hydronics and plumbing segments of the mechanical systems industry. It was also the first show where we made full use of social media as well as digital video to broadcast, capture, and share the learning and networking that this event has become well known for.

    Mechanical Systems WEEK is the place where the industry meets. In addition to all 23 regular sessions divided into seven seminar tracks, the four Innovations and Opportunities sessions, the technician track, and the tradeshow, a number of organizations co-located their meetings and events with us in the fabulous Schaumberg Convention Center, just outside of Chicago.

    ClimateMaster, for the second year, brought their GeoDay to this event, where they not only hosted classes on the advantages and the technology behind geothermal comfort systems, but also took a group of contractors into the field to take part in an actual installation. Our friends and partners from the National Comfort Institute, Radiant Professionals Alliance, The Service Roundtable, Women in HVACR, as well as the Refrigeration Roundtable, conducted meetings on their own and participated in the Mechanical Systems Week event.

    More than 600 HVACR, hydronic, and plumbing contractors hit the trade show floor to examine the latest products and services being offered in the mechanical systems industry. Based on contractor feedback, the networking, the educational opportunities, and the trade show were a welcome break from the craziness of this past summer’s heat wave. They returned home with folders full of new ideas and a fresh zeal to fuel working on their businesses, to grow them and to achieve greater success.

    Following is a recap of the event. In addition, throughout 2013 we will share many of the seminar presentations here in Contracting Business.com magazine and online.

    One last note: Mark your calendars now — September 18-20, 2013, we will reconvene, once again —as Comfortech — in the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, PA. We hope to see all of you then.

    — Mike Weil, editorial director

    Emerson Celebrates a Compressor Milestone

    Show us a company that has produced 100 million of anything, and we’ll say, job well done! That’s what the many guests attending the annual Wednesday evening Emerson Welcome Reception had to say, as Emerson Climate Technologies celebrated a phenomenal achievement: in July of this year, the 100 millionth Copeland Scroll compressor rolled off the production line in Lebanon, MO.

    “We’re grateful to our global team of employees — past and present —who worked over the past 25 years to produce a technology that’s been adopted by the industry at an incredible rate,” said Emerson Climate Technologies Executive Vice President and Business Leader Ed Purvis, to patrygoers there to unwind from a busy first day.

    “I’m proud to have been part of the original team that brought Copeland Scroll compressors to market, but I’m even more excited about what the future holds,” Purvis said. “Modulating technology, compressor electronics, and growth in new markets globally, are all part of where we’re going with Copeland Scroll technology.” Specially-decorated compressors from Emerson facilites around the world were on display at the Emerson booth in the main exhibit hall.

    Watch Contracting Business.com Executive Editor Mike Weil’s interview with Ed Purvis on Mechanical Systems TV, by visiting bit.ly/PurvisatMSW.

    Navigating the ‘Generational Divide’

    In today’s workforce, four generations are working side-by-side, and a fifth generation is on the way. Each “gen” brings a different perspective, strengths, and priorities to the workplace. And much of the conflict between the generations is all based on one big “misunderstanding” of what makes the generations tick.

    Knowing the challenges that can arise from this dynamic within an HVACR business, we brought in keynote speaker, Jason Dorsey —“The Gen Y Guy” —a lecturer and consultant for companies looking to ease the strain of having four “know-it-all” generations working together.

    Dorsey described characteristics of each generation, and their workplace mindsets. He came armed with surprising statistics, uproarious tales, and field-tested strategies to bring productive results across the “generational divide.”

    “When Generation Y workers — born between 1977 and 1995 —show up on their first day of work, they are on average one to five years older than every one of you in this room, when you first started working,” Dorsey revealed.

    “This is critical because we lead, manage, and communicate based on our personal life experiences. The skill set of what Gen Y employees bring into the HVACR industry has never been more important,” he said. “But the mindset they bring is different than many of you naturally lead, manage, and motivate with.”

    According to Dorsey, “Gen Y-ers” often feel entitled, because they’ve lived drastically more sheltered lives than their Gen X or baby boomer counterparts.

    To bring Gen Y up to speed faster within a company of multiple generations, Dorsey suggested the following:

    • Provide specific examples of the performance you expect. The reason is, Gen Y often lacks real world experience. If the subject is dress code, literally provide them with a photograph of how they are to dress for work.

    • HVACR has to look cool. Find opportunities for them to use the latest texting and social media technology. Also, don’t think Gen Y is “tech saavy.” Rather, Dorsey said, they’re “tech dependent.”

    • When a Gen Y employee arrives on Day 1, give them a small box, with four temporary business cards printed on a computer. “This gives you complete permission to say, ‘Welcome to the team. You now represent us, just as we represent you’,” Dorsey said.

    ‘GeoDay’ — Classroom Study, Field Learning

    Geothermal comfort technology continues to gain momentum, thanks to the manufacturers, associations and contractors that understand all of its benefits.

    “There still seems to be a mystery around geothermal. If you look at the industry, only about 5% are doing it,” said Raj Hiremath, director of marketing for residential products at ClimateMaster. The geothermal heat pump manufacturer exhibited at Mechanical Systems WEEK, and also held “GeoDay” on Sept. 19 in conjunction with the show event.

    “Contractors are very interested in geothermal technology,” Hiremath said, and added that 150 of them signed up for the day of geothermal learning.

    The first half of GeoDay was held at the Schaumburg Convention Center. It covered the basics of geothermal systems and selling using return on investment calculations, exploring the different type of loops and their advantages, product overviews, and a review of ClimateMaster’s GeoDesigner software.

    The second-half of the day was held at Serosun Farms in Hampshire, IL. There, contractors were able to see firsthand the different types of loop installations.

    Rich Trethewey: ‘Jump In, the Water’s Fine!’

    Rich Trethewey, host of the PBS series This Old House, kept contractors energized as he gave an upbeat and humorous talk about “Lessons From a Lifetime of Hydronic heating.” He explained that organized plumbing and H VAC started in 1902, and has come a long way since. “From 1902 to 2012, we’ve gone from fireplaces to people being really upset if they are a half a degree off with their thermostats,” Trethewey explained.

    He encouraged contractors to focus more on quality work rather than using the cost cutting measures that have become popular in the past 30 years. Trethewey called on HVAC contractors to offer both wet and dry solutions for homes and businesses. “Out of 100 homes in America, 93 of them are forced-hot-air. We can do better,” he said.

    Exhibit Hall an Innovation-fest

    American Standard displayed the AccuLink Platinum ZV Control, its most advanced and integrated control for ultimate home comfort. The AccuLink lets homeowners program wake, leave, return, sleep and vacation heating and cooling schedules for seven different days. It automatically communicates and coordinates with other system components by way of the AccuLink Communicating System.

    Bosch offers training for its geothermal products. Courses offered include Geothermal Bits & Pieces training, Advanced Geothermal Troubleshooting training, and IGSHPA Accredited Installer Workshop.

    At the Enertech booth, GeoComfort, Hydron Module, and TETCO products were displayed. The company offers training for service, installation, sales, application and design through its Geothermal University. The International Ground Source Heat Pump Association (IGSHPA) certification and NATE continuing education hours are incorporated into the curriculum, with specific design and sales courses for Enertech’s brands.

    The Geothermal Exchange Organization (GEO), a non-profit trade association that provides education and advocacy for the geothermal heat pump industry has strong alliances with industry associations, including IGSHPA. Doug Dougherty, president of GEO, spoke to show attendees about the status of the geothermal heat pump industry.

    Lennox was demonstrating the features of its new, icomfort WiFi touchscreen thermostat. The icomfort WiFi makes it easy to adjust home temperature and control energy costs from anywhere in the world, using a smartphone, tablet or laptop. Among its features, a One-Touch away mode overrides regular programming when the homeowner is away, and automatically turns down heating or cooling, to save energy.

    The Mr. PEX Smart Clip System allows for easy installation of radiant tubing. Simply insert clips into a prefabricated base and then “walk” the tubing along to lock it into place. It won a Product Showcase award in the Tools category.

    Also on the show floor, the National Comfort Institute was out in force (and doctor’s coats), providing hands-on training at five stations covering BTU measurement, pressure drop, air volume measurement, infrared camera use, and blower doors.

    Nextraq’s GPS based vehicle fleet management platform includes tracking, dispatch, and metrics. “We help businesses of any size, because the product is scalable, and is able know where vehicles are at any given time. We also help them become more able to reduce fuel costs, get more jobs done, increase service revenue, make sure vehicles are out in the field where and when they’re supposed to be,” said Frank Scheiber, field marketing manager.

    Rheem displayed the H2AC rooftop unit, the industry’s first integrated air and water system designed specifically for full-service restaurants. By removing heat from the restaurant, and using it to heat water, this unique system provides significant energy cost savings. Contractor editor Bob Mader’s show interview with Rheem Chief Operating Officer, Chris Peel, can be found by visiting, bit.ly/PeelatMSW.

    Trane’s Nexia Home Intelligence System won a Product Showcase Award in the Software category. This simple-to-use, Internet-enabled home automation system lets homeowners remotely adjust home temperature and monitor security by computer or most web-enabled cell phones. It was developed in cooperation with Nexia and Schlage.

    Yori Horan, national sales manager for combustion analysis products, demonstrated the features of the AQM4 hand-held air quality meter from UEI Test Instruments, the 2012 Product Showcase Award winner in the Instrumentation and Diagnostics category.

    Show exhibitor WaterFurnace provided information classes on geothermal equipment, including service and installation, geothermal piping design, hydronics applications and introduction to geothermal HVAC systems.

    “We offer one day classes to dealers, where we send a trainer to their shop to train service technicians, and we also have a course designed to help a dealer transition from residential to commercial,” said Sonny Hampton, director of training at WaterFurnace. Custom classes are also available.

    Wrightsoft’s vice president of sales and marketing. Chris Edgren, showed off the new Right-Roadshow app, which allows fast and easy Air Conditioning Contractors of America-approved Manual J load calculations to be performed in a customer’s home in minutes.

    WHVACR Annual Meeting a Success

    Women in HVACR President Patti Ellingson, Southeast regional sales manager, Cooper Atkins Corp. provided details of WHVACR’s success with student educational outreach initiatives presented at AHRI, HVAC Excellence, AHR Expo, HARDI and ACCA events.

    Keynote speaker Polly Craighill shared her story of success as the first female senior counsel in the U.S. Senate Office of the Legislative Counsel. She described how she navigated change in her career in a presentation titled, “Making it in a Changing World.”

    The event’s luncheon guest was Contracting Business.com 2012 Woman of the Year, Alana Ward, president, Baggett Heating & Cooling, Clarksville, TN. Ward shared her journey of a surprise change in her career path, her ambition to succeed, and the drive to do it right. whvacr.com

    In conjunction with its 9th Annual Meeting, A Luau-themed meet-and-greet session was held the evening prior to the meeting, with lively music by Polynesian musicians and hula dancers. A special Polynesian menu was created by the chef of the Renaissance Center. The event’s fun, music, dancing and conversation, was a great way to end the day, as a busy WHVACR meeting followed the next morning.

    Mechanical Systems WEEK Product Showcase Awards

    The ContractingBusiness.com editors were busy on the show floor talking to the 2012 Product Showcase winners.

    All exhibitors were given an opportunity to enter a product that they were exhibiting at Mechanical Systems WEEK in our contest, to see which product was most useful to contractors. The winner in each category was given a sign at their booth saying they’re

    the winner, and had an editor do a video at their booth, highlighting the product that won.

    The following are the winners in the various award categories:

    Business/Technical Services: Service Roundtable’s Roundtable Rewards

    Controls: American Standard AccuLink Platinum ZV Control

    Forced-Air Cooling: Emerson Copeand Scroll and Rheem H2 AC Rooftop Unit

    Forced-Air Heating: ClimateMaster Tranquility 30 Heatpump

    Indoor Air Quality: TRion ComfortBreeze Humidifier

    Instrumentation/Diagnostics: Uei AQM4 Air Quality Meter

    Miscellaneous: Permatron PreVent Filter

    Software: Trane Nexia Home

    Intelligence System Tools: Mr. Pex Systems SmartClip System

    Training: Regal Beloit Genteq Tutorial App

    Zoning Equipment: EWC Controls Ultra-Talk Zone System

    Quality Home Comfort Awards were presented to the following residential contractors:

    • Mechanical Air Service, San Jose, CA

    • Energy Environmental Corporatio, Centennial, CO

    • Orchard Valley Heating and Cooling, Southampton, MA

    • Professional Geothermal Systems, Port Washington, WI

    • General Air Conditioning, San Antonio, TX.

    Read about these winning projects by visiting bit.ly/CB2012QHCA

    Design/Build Awards, for excellence in commercial HVAC contracting, were presented to:

    • Southland Industries, Dulles, VA

    • Lee Company, Franklin, TN

    • EMCOR Services, Mesa Energy Systems, Irvine, CA

    • North Jackson School in-house team, Jefferson, GA

    To read about these winning projects, visit bit.ly/CB2012DB

    Service Roundtable Celebrates 10th Anniversary

    Another milestone was reached at this year’s show, as Service Roundtable marked 10 years of providing business building information for HVAC contractors. The organization was an exhibitor in its first year, and has participated in the show for 10 straight years. CEO Matt MIchel has also been a frequent speaker and award presenter.

    “We chose to launch at HVAC Comfortech, and have strongly supported the event since, as we’ve grown to become the nation’s largest contractor business alliance, with more than 3,600 users,” Michel said. “From the Service Roundtable’s perspective, 2012 Mechanical Systems WEEK was another very successful event. This was the eighth straight year that we brought the largest group of contractors to MSW. Including ours, we also sold 49 booths. The show delivered 31 new members and one Service Nation Alliance member, not to mention a steady stream of new member enrollments since the show’s end.

    “I’m excited for the future and for the potential from plumbing and eventually, electric contractors,” Michel said. “Our plumbing members were blown away by the week. We had 40 Plumbing Alliance members stick around through Saturday for an additional meeting. They’re enthusiastic supporters and will spread the word to other plumbers. In time, I expect plumbing to match HVAC. This is good for everyone.”

    Thursday Night Extravaganza

    The best industry party of the year is always at Mechanical Systems WEEK, because it’s always held at a unique location, not just a local watering hole. This industry knows how to have a good time, and their expectations were met with a Thursday Night Extravaganza at Pinstripes Bowling/Bocce/Bistro, a short drive from the convention center.

    We rented out the facility to give our guests ample access to al the Pinstripes amenities. Mechanical Systems Week guests were eager to join in the fun after a long day of listening and learning. Within minutes after guests started to arrive, the busy Pinstripes crew was serving drinks and helping guests find their way around the sprawling game facility, which includes an outdoor patio for bocce ball and dining. There was ample food and drink for all, and for three solid hours, Pinstripes was alive with the sounds of bocce, bowling, billiards, and conversations in every corner.

    The night at Pinstripes was made possible by the generous support of Nordyne, Rheem, and Ruud. ContractingBusiness.com and Contractor magazine were also sponsors. Food and drink were in ample supply. Nordyne’s sponsorship included bringing in the Chicago Bulls cheerleaders, ‘The Luvabulls.’ Rheem and Ruud provided cigars to be enjoyed around a cozy fire on the Pinstripes outdoor patio.