Posted on February 4, 2016
Optimism for a strong year ahead clearly set the tone for last week’s 2016 AHR Expo in Orlando. This year’s event brought nearly 60,000 professionals under one roof for three days of information gathering and networking. While a massive snowstorm in the northeast did its best to hamper travel, attendees did what it took to get to Orlando for this major industry event.
This year’s event also marked the first AHR Expo outside of Chicago to top 400,000 square feet of exhibition space, the equivalent of more than 20 football fields. The sheer size of the event and its strong attendance are further evidence that demand is high within the HVACR industry.
Growth Trends Look Positive
The annual survey of AHR Expo attendees is a telling barometer for the industry. With more than 750 attendees responding, this survey shows AHR attendees are confident 2015’s business momentum will continue through 2016. The survey also highlights some key trends and priorities for HVACR pros.
In terms of growth, 86 percent of respondents indicated they are confident about their business in 2016. Of those, 14 percent noted business prospects were excellent for the year, and 62 percent indicated prospects were good. These responses were consistent with the 2015 survey, indicating sustained confidence for strength in the industry.
Actual sales will, of course, be the true measure. More than eight out of 10 respondents expect to see an increase in sales this year. Of those expecting growth, one out of five anticipate a sales boost of more than 10 percent.
Growth projections are also strong across key project types. Manufacturers at AHR anticipate sustained demand associated with data centers, hospitals and health care facilities, light and heavy commercial development, and office buildings. But in a departure from the 2015 survey, retrofits and renovations were noted as the most opportunistic area for the industry. Forty-two percent of respondents see the greatest potential in working with existing structures, up 14 percentage points over 2015. Last year’s top pick, new construction, remains strong with 30 percent of respondents seeing the greatest opportunity for growth in that arena.
Innovation Reflects Growth Trends
With such optimism, well over half of the exhibitors introduced new products during the 2016 AHR Expo. This gave attendees the opportunity to see hundreds of new offerings across a wide range of product types. Of the many new products on display, only 10 received a coveted AHR Innovation Award, including the Victaulic System Solution for Saturated Steam. Victaulic proudly accepted the award during a ceremony held on the second day of the Expo. The Innovation Awards recognize products that best help HVACR professionals provide safer, more efficient, and/or more comfortable environments.
The Victaulic steam system is the world’s first grooved mechanical piping system for saturated steam and condensate applications. In addition to receiving the Innovation Award in the “Heating” category, the system was a big draw in the Victaulic booth during the Expo. It is ideal for retrofits and renovations of steam systems, which are common in many settings, such as hospitals and education facilities.
Victaulic experts were on hand to answer numerous questions about the steam system, and it was clear that interest was extremely high among contractors, engineers and others who are seeking effective options for their steam applications. Attendance was strong for a new product presentation about the system from Victaulic Director of Valves & Large Diameter Systems Kurt Gobreski. Kurt provided an in-depth overview of the system, detailing how it reduces labor costs, shortens installation time, increases safety and simplifies maintenance.
The strong outlook for retrofits, renovations and new construction drove interest in other Victaulic products as well. Attendees had the opportunity to preview the first Installation-Ready™ fittings for grooved copper tube. The soon-to-be-released fittings provide flame-free installation that improve safety and efficiency on the jobsite. The Victaulic team fielded numerous questions and inquiries about the grooved fittings for copper tube, and the public preview of the new fittings was another strong draw to the Victaulic booth.
AHR Essentials: Efficiency, Reliability and Maintenance
As evident in conversations held in the Victaulic booth and the results of the annual AHR survey, attendees made it clear their customers place a premium on reliability, energy efficiency and maintenance. These factors also led to great interest in Victaulic’s products overall, including those designed for hydronic balancing.
Victaulic hydronic balancing products provide engineers and operators much simpler control of hydronic heating and cooling valve systems. Becoming a perennial topic of interest for Victaulic booth visitors, these products allow engineers and operators to drive greater efficiency and reliability from their heating systems.
Traffic at the Victaulic booth was another indicator of a strong 2016 for the industry. From deep interest in the products on display, which also included the Refuse-to-FuseTM System for HDPE pipe and the new RG5200i Roll Grooving Tool, it was clear that engineers, contractors and HVACR professionals are eager to discover the latest technology and products to support their business.
We look forward to supporting our customers throughout the year with a strong slate of products that meet today’s trends and the core needs of the industry. For those who came to our booth at the AHR Expo, we appreciate the time you invested in learning about Victaulic.