Jim Wheeler (left) visited the Weil-McLain booth while attending the 2009 AHR Expo. Photo by Pat Lenius.

I’ve attended every AHR (Air-conditioning/Heating/Refrigerating) Exposition since 1986, as well as several before that, and I will attend the upcoming one in Lost Wages (Las Vegas), Nevada, this coming January 31 through February 2 (http://www.ahrexpo.com). If you’re not mad at me and would like to meet up with me (and you’re buying lunch), send me an e-mail at jimwheeler@ij.net.

I pay my own way now, but I find each and every one of these Expos worth my time and expenses. Why? Not only because I get to meet with old friends, but because I want to know what’s new and exciting and what’s happening in our industry!

Why should YOU attend? Understand this: The reason why most companies fail today is because they have failed to keep up with the latest technology - and the AHR Expo is where you’ll find the latest technology.

It always amazes me that some of the brightest ideas and greatest products failbecause nobody knows that they are available and what good they can do for our industry!And you as a supply-house owner, manager or salesperson can make it all happen!

I’ve worked for companies in the past where the owners didn’t understand the need for my attending the Expos - we call that shortsightedness. Actually, I quit one company back in the ’80s because my salary was docked for attending one. And as a result, I became an industry writer/editor.

The saddest thing about the Expos is that some of the major equipment manufacturers have stopped attending because they believe that their money could be better spent elsewhere. I disagree!

I probably walk the show differently than most people. I see attendees walking ahead of me and blocking whole aisles. Large groups of contractors, wholesalers and engineers waddle along through the exhibit hall talking to each other, passing the booths where great new ideas are on display. But not me. I’ve paid too much to get there! I pay close attention to each booth - no matter how small - to see if there is something that I can write to you about!

Understand that when I write my articles about the new products I find at each Expo (which usually appear in the March and April issues of this magazine), they aren’t written from published press releases (as with most others), but from my own observations and excitement as a long-time industry professional! If you know of something new that I should be considering, please contact me and I will look at it! I don’t guarantee coverage because I have to personally deem the product as something worthwhile - new technology!

Why do I find the products from small companies and foreign manufacturers so interesting? Not only because they have cared enough to show their new product at the Expo, but because these companies are often on the leading edge of technology. Also, I feel certain that some of the large equipment manufacturers have become complacent with their current list of supply-house customers, so you may not be of interest to them.

So why should you spend the money for yourself and your employees to attend this year’s AHR Expo? Because this is where you’ll find the future! Be there!