Our continuing coverage of the AHR Expo from this past month has featured many new products, videos, coverage of industry events such as the Mechanical Town Hall and original feature articles highlighting our time spent on the exhibit floor.
One highlight from our time at AHR was the opportunity to sit down with Mark Chaffee of Taco Inc. Mark is Taco’s Director of Brand Management and has been a longtime friend of Mechanical Hub.
The following is a conversation with Chaffee about new products, why attending AHR is important and what sets Taco apart from other companies in the hydronics industry.
MH: Having been a longtime exhibitor at AHR, what would you say are the top three reasons for contractors to attend the show?
Chaffee: The AHR Expo has always been a great venue for installing contractors, engineers, system designers, facility managers, manufacturer’s reps and building owners to visit manufacturers — thousands of them — to see new products and technology, and to connect with the experts at each booth. The level of expertise at the show is really incredible; most manufacturers take their best experts to the Expo.
Of course, there are also many educational seminars and technical sessions, both by ASHRAE and the manufacturers, and also by the many media sources that host educational events. And then there are the hospitality events that offer terrific and enjoyable networking opportunities that are hard to put a value on. For those who’re motivated to put these opportunities to good use, the value is hard to calculate.
MH: What can visitors expect to see at the Taco booth, whom can they talk with?
Chaffee: The Taco booth at AHR Expo ’14 was busy through all days of the show. Last year, 2013, was a banner year for research and development, preparing us for the introduction of new technology at this year’s show. We were especially interested in sharing the news of our latest SelfSensing commercial pumping technology, with the ability to control and monitor it remotely, though there were many other new “e-smart” products also unveiled at the show. Be sure to learn about them here: Taco AHR Special Coverage . The booth was staffed by everyone from Johnny White, the owner, to product managers and engineers from every product grouping.
MH: Taco is a family owned and operated business, how does that effect the day to day operations of Taco?
Chaffee: Because Taco is privately owned, we’re not beholden to annual or quarterly public reporting. Our goal — from our beginnings in 1920 — has been to work toward the long term success of our customers. Although we may not have the deepest pockets to spend on R&D, we use our knowledge to bring innovative and useful products to the market that our customers can actually use in the field every day. These ‘products’ are not just made from cast iron and steel, but include training, education, sales support and design tools. We view the need for education and professional advancement as important as putting the right “tools” — our products — into the hands of trade professionals.
An example of this is Taco’s huge investment (about $20 million) in the Innovation and Development Center in Cranston, RI. It’s recognized today as one of the finest teaching centers in the industry. It’s also a living, breathing laboratory with many interconnected hydronic components, all of which are designed to demonstrate how state-of-the-art hydronic systems can be optimized for the greatest comfort and energy efficiency. There aren’t many public companies that would make an investment like that during a recession. But again, Taco’s been around for a long time. The IDC is just one more demonstration of its long-term commitment to the industry, to its 500 employees, their families and of course to Taco’s customers who’ve come to know and trust our products, technology and expertise.
MH: What new products for 2014 are you most excited about?
Chaffee: Taco introduced a dozen new products at the AHR Expo. Among our most exciting roll-outs were these:
Taco has enhanced its commercial design suite software. The software now includes additional controllers, sensors and control accessories and user interface improvements. All three design suite components – Taco’s Hydronic System Solution software (HSS), Taco Load Tool, and System Analysis Tool software – now provide even more functionality.
Taco’s new ProBalance SelfSensing pumps – when coupled with iWorX and ProView – accomplish ideal system flow and head pressure automatically, right out of the box. Once installed, the pumps become their own
flow-control and measuring device. With ProView, an installer or facility manager now as an easy to use graphical interface to set the flow and meet system GPM demand.
For building owners, this means custom integration with dramatically reduced installed cost, greater system intelligence, and continuous monitoring and control of system performance, and energy management for the life of the building.
Taco’s On Command is a silent pump that attaches to the hot and cold water lines in the cabinet under the most remote kitchen or bath fixture in the home. When the pump is activated, the cool water that normally escapes down the drain is recirculated back to the water heater through the cold water line.
When hot water arrives at the faucet, the On Command heat sensor and control board shuts off the circulator to prevent pumping excess hot water into the cold water line.
The Taco/White Family Foundation continues to support a wide range of community-based non-profit organizations, working with them to improve the Rhode Island community.
“The Foundation continues to build on the legacy of my late parents, John and Happy, who began to give to the community in the 90s,” explained Johnny White Jr., President and CEO of Cranston, RI-based Taco, Inc. “After my father’s passing in 2000, my mother and I established the John & Happy White Foundation to continue their work.”
After Happy’s passing in 2009, the Foundation ultimately became the Taco/White Family Foundation and began the process of creating an organized philanthropic structure. The foundation’s purpose has remained the same: to sustain and improve the quality of life in these core focus areas: music/arts, education, community service, healthcare and the environment.
The Taco/White Family Foundation exists to serve the broad Rhode Island community. “The Foundation’s ability to contribute to the welfare of Rhode Islanders is made possible by the efforts of Taco’s staff and employees who come to work every day, committed to making the best products possible for the industries we serve,” said White.
“We’re proud of them and proud of the Foundation they support through their efforts,” he concluded.