According to a recent ASHRAE and International Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigerating Exposition (AHR Expo) survey sent to more than 1,000 HVACR manufacturers worldwide, optimism for improved economic prospects is growing.
Eighty-seven percent of the respondents said their prospects for business in 2015 are “excellent” (26 percent) or “good” (61 percent). That is 8 percentage points higher than last year, when 79 percent of survey respondents said they expected the economy to be better in 2014 than in 2013, and 17 percentage points higher than the previous year, when 70 percent of the respondents said they expected 2013 to be better than 2012.
Ninety-six percent of the respondents expect sales to increase in 2015, with 47 percent expecting increases of 5 to 10 percent. Twenty-nine percent of respondents forecast sales increases of more than 10 percent, while 20 percent of respondents expect increases of less than 5 percent. This represents a 6-percentage-point increase over last year’s forecast and a 16-percentage-point increase over 2013’s.
When asked which market segments are the most promising heading into 2015, “hospitals/healthcare” ranked first in the “excellent” and “good” categories, followed closely by “ light commercial.” “Heavy commercial,” “data/telecom centers,” “manufacturing/industrial,” and “office buildings” also ranked high. “Heavy commercial,” “light commercial,” and “data/telecom” showed the biggest increases over last year’s survey, with double-digit increases.
Regarding the industry categories in which HVACR manufacturers see the best prospects for business, “new construction” was mentioned by 40 percent of respondents, gaining 11 percentage points from the 2014 forecast. “Maintenance/replacement” was second (32 percent), followed closely by “retrofit/renovation” (28 percent). Last year, all three were rated fairly equally, separated by only a couple of percentage points.
“What is especially interesting about this year’s survey is that manufacturers are seeing bigger increases in ‘new construction,’ ‘light commercial,’ ‘heavy commercial,’ and ‘data centers,’” Clay Stevens, president of International Exposition Co., which produces and manages the AHR Expo, said. “In the previous two years’ surveys, they were expecting more growth from ‘retrofit/renovation’ and ‘maintenance/replacement’ areas.”
Once again, respondents said “reliability” and “first costs” are most important to their customers. “Energy efficiency” and “maintenance” were close behind, while “comfort” and “indoor air quality” made impressive gains over last year’s survey to finish in the top five.
Seventy percent of the respondents said they plan to introduce new products at the 2015 AHR Expo in Chicago Jan. 26-28. This is up 3 percent from last year. Of those respondents, 53 percent plan to introduce products that improve energy efficiency.