WESTPORT, CT — Co-sponsored by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc. (ASHRAE), the International Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigerating Exposition (AHR Expo) draws wide-reaching attendance by mechanical engineering professionals each year.
From veteran attendees who’ve realized consecutive job wins through relationship building at the Show, to new professionals serious about advancing in their careers, the mechanical engineer audience represents a key focus of the 2016 AHR Expo’s exhibitions and programming.
Engineers planning to attend next January 25 to 27 in Orlando anticipate value in the ability to view and discuss the industry’s newest game-changing technologies, from VRF/VRV to geothermal heat pumps, and controls to building management software. Likewise, they have communicated the importance of being able to evaluate the ongoing innovations in tried-and-true system categories like chillers, cooling towers and air handling units.
Across the mechanical engineering community, past attendees of AHR Expo echo the sentiment that, despite the challenges of managing a demanding workload, it has been valuable to make time to be at the Show.
“I think we can all understand that losing three consecutive days of billable hours and general work progress in the office can be tough,” said Jeff Bernagozzi, director of engineering at GMK Engineering in Columbia, S.C. “We’re a smaller firm, but AHR Expo is still something we’ve managed to actively attend over the years.”
Bernagozzi expressed interest in seeing exhibitors featuring new dehumidification and cooling solutions at the 2016 Show in Orlando, particularly due to next year’s exhibition in the Southeast, where this type of equipment addresses climate challenges specific to the region.
“I’ve attended every Show since 2010 and, despite ebbs and flows in my business, have made a point of attending because of the benefit in seeing people and their products in person,” said Warren “Trey” Austin III, owner of Littleton, Colo.-based Geo-Energy Services, LLC. “I’ve written new business from attending AHR Expo in the past, and it’s one of the most important events I participate in all year.”
Austin, a voting member of ASHRAE Technical Committee TC 6.8 (Geothermal Heat Pump and Energy Utilization), plans to attend both the 2016 AHR Expo and ASHRAE Winter Conference in Orlando.
“It’s great to also be able to wrap Southeast region client meetings into next year’s event, as it’s a cross-country trip for me but my business is international in scope,” Austin explained. “Making the most out of travel is important when you own a growing company.”
Sarah Medepalli, formerly with AHRI and now a mechanical engineer at ICF International in Fairfax, Va. where, among other functions, she consults to the EPA on establishing ENERGY STAR ratings, has been a loyal attendee of AHR Expo since 2003.
“I’d missed a few years of the Show because of a job transition, but returned in 2012 in a new role supporting the ENERGY STAR program,” Medepalli said. “EPA sees the value in attending and conducting meetings with manufacturers and industry stakeholders, and ever since that time AHR Expo has become an expected part of EPA’s business plan.”
According to Medepalli, face-to-face meetings with manufacturers are the most valuable part of her participation in AHR Expo.
“Working with the EPA in support of the ENERGY STAR program, I aim each year to see as much as I can in the way of new and innovative energy-efficient products on display,” she said. “It helps to develop personal relationships with those who represent the products I’m working with for the remainder of the year, especially because when you pick up the phone you know who’s on the other end, and vice versa. Meeting someone face-to-face, especially if most of your interaction moving forward isn’t going to be in person, is really key, and AHR Expo is the one place where I can make these introductions most efficiently.”
Jordan Lee, a mechanical engineer at DLR Group in Seattle, denotes the importance of attending AHR Expo as a young professional in the HVACR industry.
“I was fortunate enough to be invited by a manufacturer to the 2015 Show in Chicago, and was literally shocked by its scale and size, and the number of exhibitors,” Lee shared. “I’d never been to an event that large before.”
According to Lee, seeing as much of the exhibition floor as possible consumed the majority of his time at the 2015 Show, however he found additional value in being able to meet with out-of-town colleagues.
“DLR Group has 21 locations across the country, and it was great to be able to meet with colleagues I’d spoken and emailed with, but never met in person before, while we were all together in the same place,” said Lee.
Lee expressed further benefit from attending a variety of AHR Expo-related hospitality events in Chicago.
“I was surprised by how many people I was able to meet, and the more casual and relaxing nature of the events made it easier for me to strike up conversation,” he shared.
Past mechanical engineer attendees have echoed a resounding sentiment that, without fail, AHR Expo provides a unique, valuable and not-to-be-missed experience each year.
“The Show has helped me grow in my professional development by just being able to see where the industry is headed, and notice trends through the significant variety of products on display from one year to the next,” said Medepalli. “It’s so important to have a good handle on what is coming down the pipeline.”
“A majority of my business comes from networking connections, so I know that the exchanges I have at AHR Expo are going to directly affect the company’s bottom line,” Austin said. “Nothing has helped my business grow like referrals have, and the majority of leads have come from attending this Show. I also take the opportunity every year to look for new products in areas I don’t know as much about, and there’s just no other opportunity for me to do this at a similar scope and size.”
“I’ve got a pretty specific agenda for the Show in Orlando, including seeing what’s out there for healthcare applications with water-cooled chillers,” said Bernagozzi. “It’ll be interesting to kick the tires and see what’s new.”
For additional information or to register for 2016 AHR Expo in Orlando, visit www.ahrexpo.com.