Here’s an early New Year’s resolution. Come tothe 2016 AHR Expo. It’s in Orlando, Fla., Jan. 25-27, so find an excuse.

I wouldn’t miss it. I’ve been to every AHR Expo since 1984. I want to be there because this is where our industry’s future is on display. In fact, it’s probably where you will get your first look at what your current suppliers are working on because they will often use this annual event to showcase new products and even to boast about what will be coming later in the year. It also will be a great place to find new product lines and to see what your competitors’ suppliers are planning. My advice?

  • Stay at one of the suggested hotels. Since they will have free shuttle busses running regularly to and from the hotels from early morning until late at night you won’t have to use your car. And plan to stay at one of the larger hotels because that’s where all the parties and hospitality suites will be located. And make your reservations early so you’re assured a better selection of rooms.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask if a company is holding a party or if it has a hospitality suite. Some of the most extravagant bashes I’ve ever been to were on Monday nights of the expos.
  • Invite some of your best customers to come with you! Make it a couple days of relationship building.
  • Wear comfortable shoes! Don’t worry about what you look like, just make sure you aren’t lame before you’ve visited all the booths on your list. Dress comfortably. Most attendees who aren’t working the booths will be dressed casually. Also, carry a coat or jacket just in case the weather is cool at night.
  • Plan to be there at least two days because it will take you that long to see everything that will interest you.
  • Plan your days! The Expo will be huge so you’ll wear out your feet trying to stop at every booth and there will be many things that will be of no interest to you. Pick up a show guide early and figure out what you want to see.
  • Don’t just wander through the Expo like so many do talking to friends and looking to pick up free handouts. You’ve paid to get there to find out what’s new so pay close attention!
  • Ask the tough questions and don’t believe all that the marketing people will tell you. If you can’t get an answer to your satisfaction ask to talk to someone from the engineering department — that’s what I do.
  • Check to see if new products will only be sold through distribution.
  • Attend some of the training sessions that will be going on throughout the day. You’ll be surprised to find out how much you can learn while you give your feet some rest.
  • Keep an open mind! There may be a great opportunity staring you in the face no matter what country it comes from or how unlikely the idea may seem at first.
  • Make it a family vacation... it’s ORLANDO!

See you there!


This article was originally titled “Join me in Orlando” in the November print edition of Supply House Times.