Industry Blogs

We have made it to the new year, a new decade. And with the turn of every calendar comes the rush of industry trade shows. Next week we will be traveling to Las Vegas for the IBS/KBIS Show or the Builder’s/Kitchen & bath Show. Following that, we will be in Orlando for the AHR Show Read more

We have made it to the new year, a new decade. And with the turn of every calendar comes the rush of industry trade shows. Next week we will be traveling to Las Vegas for the IBS/KBIS Show or the Builder’s/Kitchen & bath Show. Following that, we will be in Orlando for the AHR Show, North America’s largest HVAC show. Oh yeah, let’s not forget about World of Concrete, back in Vegas. The goal is to see, feel and test new products, learn and network with fellow attendees.

10 Tips for a Better Trade Show Experience, AHR Expo, Builders Show, IBS, KBIS, World of Concrete, navigating trade shows

The AHR Expo—Feb 3-5, Orlando—is one of the largest annual North American trade shows.

When attending these trade shows, it is best to have a plan. Having attended dozens of these show in the past, I have come up with some tips and strategies for a better trade show experience.

  1. Map Out Your Plan — All of these shows have corresponding websites with maps, and a list of exhibitors and events. I can’t stress enough to map out your day so you are the most efficient with your time, energy and steps on the trade show floor. (ahrexpo.com & www.buildersshow.com & www.worldofconcrete.com) Downloading the appropriate trade show apps is a must.
  2. Wear Comfortable Shoes & Clothing — We all want to look good, and professional, but gone are the days of stuffy apparel. I’d rather feel comfortable and fresh at the end of the day than out of sorts, sweaty and dogs a barking.
  3. Give Yourself Enough Time — The stress of a trade show can be daunting in and of itself. Take as much time as you need to take a deep breath and move freely on the show floor. It’s always a good idea to come in the day or night before a show to make sure all is in order and registration for the show is set. If you are planning a night out, make sure you make any necessary reservations ahead of time.
  4. Afterparty Over-Indulging — We all love to go out and enjoy ourselves, especially after a long day at a show. There are numerous manufacturer parties, dinners, soirees, etc. where one can relax and wind down. But staying out all night—and drinking—can be fun, and up to your discretion, but it isn’t advisable, especially if you intend to be at the show the following day. Nobody is impressed with the over-perspired, alcohol lingering on breath, bags under the eyes, headache pounding visit from on overserved attendee. Pro Tip: Keep hydrated and carry a protein bar just in case you get the munchies. The IAQ in these large buildings is usually very poor and the air can get dry.10 Tips for a Better Trade Show Experience, AHR Expo, Builders Show, IBS, KBIS, World of Concrete, navigating trade shows
  5. Plan Accordingly for Transportation — Most of the time at busy trade shows, transportation can, well, be a bitch, especially after a show. Keep this in mind as long taxi lines will form to and from the shows. Download your favorite rideshare app so you are locked and loaded.
  6. Travel in Packs — If traveling in groups, try to stay in one place or area. It alleviates costs on transportation and makes meetings much more amenable.
  7. Be Prepared to Exchange Contact Info — Make sure you have business cards on hand and be prepared to exchange info digitally, so make sure your phone is charged or bring extra chargers! Also, make sure you have proper badges for the show. For example, attendee, exhibitor and press badges all provide different access and different access times. Make sure you understand the limitations of your particular given badge.
  8. Follow-up with Contacts — Once the show is over, what it your end game? What better way to measure the results of a show personally than to document leads, follow up with new contacts, and were you satisfied with your expectations of information, contacts and overall impressions?
  9. Cellular/WiFi Service — Most shows do not offer WiFi on the show floor, or if they do, it usually sucks. There are certain spots at different venues you may be able to sneak a signal, maybe. Make sure your service is covered in the areas where you are, or be prepared to go without in the dark recesses of a concrete building.
  10. If Unable to Attend … — Be sure to follow your favorite social media outlets that are attending (Search Mechanical Hub on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram) and keep up to date on what’s going on from the show floor. First of the year trade show events are when companies have big product announcements, launches and press briefings.

Good luck, and have a great trade show experience!

Hydronic systems outperform VRF, study finds In a study commissioned by Xylem Inc. that evaluated HVAC systems in a number of South Carolina school buildings, hydronic systems outperformed all other systems, including VRF, in terms of lower energy use, cost and life expectancy, by as much as 24%. “With HVAC systems dictating a substantial amount Read more

Hydronic systems outperform VRF, study finds

In a study commissioned by Xylem Inc. that evaluated HVAC systems in a number of South Carolina school buildings, hydronic systems outperformed all other systems, including VRF, in terms of lower energy use, cost and life expectancy, by as much as 24%.

“With HVAC systems dictating a substantial amount of the overall energy use of commercial buildings, the results shed light on the importance of evaluating varying system-to-system costs before installation,” said Kyle DelPiano, Business Development Director, CBS Market, Xylem. “More than ever, energy-efficient practices are driving the construction industry toward more sustainable solutions, and this study proves long-term cost savings that can’t be overlooked when making the choice between hydronic and VRF systems.”

To compare and contrast HVAC systems according to their 30-year life-cycle cost analysis (LCCA), the Xylem study analyzed seven elementary and middle schools located in South Carolina Climate Zone 3A, a humid, warm climate. The cost analysis included upfront installed cost, replacement cost allocations and ongoing energy and maintenance cost of the following system types:

  • Variable refrigerant flow heat pumps (VRF)
  • Water source heat pumps (WSHP)
  • Ground source heat pumps (GSHP)
  • Direct expansion rooftop units (DX RTU)
  • Water cooled chillers (WCC)
  • Air-Cooled Chillers (ACC)

The findings of the study revealed that the schools with WSHP, GSHP and WCC systems displayed energy use levels that were 30%, 41% and 25% better than the national median for elementary and middle schools, respectively. The replacement cost allocation also acknowledged that the tested hydronic systems operate effectively for approximately 25 years, as opposed to the 15-year replacement estimation for VRF systems.

The tested VRF systems required replacement a decade earlier because of their tendency to work harder during heating cycles, bringing proof of long-term cost savings to the forefront of the conversation surrounding sustainability and hydronic HVAC system efficiency.

Hydronic systems outperform VRF, hydronics, radiant heating, radiant cooling, plumbing, heating, HVAC, hot water circulation

Replacement allocations had an impact on the life-cycle cost analysis (see yellow bars) and drastically reduced the cost effectiveness of equipment with 15-year life expectancies.

Considerable benefits of the hydronic HVAC systems included lower energy usage intensity and cost, wider range of maintenance flexibility and longer life expectancy.

The full research study can be found here: https://bit.ly/35AtpXb. For more information about Xylem, visit www.xylem.com.

 

Distributor sales incentives and rebate programs can be deployed to accomplish strategic goals within the distribution channel. These goals might include structuring promotions to drive sales of high margin products, move old inventory to free up space or speed up the adoption rates of new products. There are important considerations to take into account to Read more

Distributor sales incentives and rebate programs can be deployed to accomplish strategic goals within the distribution channel. These goals might include structuring promotions to drive sales of high margin products, move old inventory to free up space or speed up the adoption rates of new products.

There are important considerations to take into account to ensure the success of a distributor incentive program. Utilize these best practices for maximum ROI.

Analyze Your Audience
The success of your distributor sales incentives and rebate program depends on being able to personalize your marketing to your distributor sales reps (DSRs). During the registration process, make sure you are collecting accurate contact, firmographic and demographic data to personalize your promotional marketing.

Align Promotions with Organizational Goals
Having specific, measurable outcomes in mind will allow you to structure your distributor incentive program to achieve those outcomes. The ability to run multiple promotions by product, region or organization can allow manufacturers to be really granular in tackling specific objectives.

Strategically Select Rewards
Your rewards should be scalable to different levels of performance. After all, you wouldn’t want to award your VIP accounts and part-time customers the same amount of value. The types of reward you offer also depends on the length of your promotions. Debit-card based SPIFFs and rebates are more suitable for short-term promotions, whereas merchandise rewards or incentive travel would make more sense for long-term, loyalty-based promotions.

Regularly Communicate with Your Distributor Sales Reps
To maximize the effectiveness of your incentive program, you should strive to regularly provide participants with relevant, engaging communication. This communication includes content on your program website, monthly statements, seasonal emails and promotional marketing via email, SMS and push notifications.

Track Distributor Incentive KPIs
KPIs – key performance indicators – are metrics you can track to ensure your incentive program is on pace to achieve its goals. These include site visits, the percentage of participants submitting claims, email open and click rates and sales-related metrics. It’s important to have software in place to monitor these KPIs and capitalize on opportunities for cross-selling, up-selling and re-engagement with your DSRs.

Monitoring KPIs gives you insight into account engagement and the success of each promotion.

Offer Sales Enablement for Eligible Products
Building brand preference depends on enabling your DSRs to effectively sell your products to dealers, contractors and wholesalers. There are a variety of ways to offer this enablement, such as:

  • Creating interactive quizzes based on content or training videos;
  • Requiring mandatory virtual or on-site training to qualify for promotions;
  • Utilizing your reward program communications to educate participants on your product lines; and
  • Rewarding participants for attending important trade shows.

Provide Convenient Platforms for Claims Submissions
In order to boost participation and maximize the quality of the data you receive, focus on making it easy for DSRs to submit and validate claims. Document upload tools allow DSRs to snap a picture of an invoice on their phones and attach it alongside their sales claims. Furthermore, this will make it easier for you to validate claims and quickly assign rewards. Doing so provides a better UX and will maximize the effectiveness of rewards as a behavioral modification tool.

Providing mobile-ready platforms for participants to access your rewards program and upload sales claim verifications will ensure the success of your distributor sales incentive program.

Switch Things Up to Keep Your Program Fresh
Even an effective incentive program can reach a point of diminishing return. It’s important to switch up your promotions to keep your program exciting and interesting. Point multipliers and limited-time promotions can quickly boost sales growth or re-engage inactive accounts. And adding elements of gamification, such as leaderboards, spin-to-wins, achievement badges and on-the-spot point bonuses will make your program engaging and rewarding from end-to-end.

Seek Feedback and Analyze Results
Finally, you will want to arm yourself with data points to continuously improve your program. Seeking participants on surveys will help you add enhancements to your program and personalize your relationship with distributors. Analyzing KPIs and calculating ROI helps you prove program success and equip you with insights to make your next distributor sales incentive or rebate program even more successful!

For more incentive program strategies and best practices, check out Incentive Solutions’ complementary eBook, The Incentive Program Playbook.

Mark Herbert is President and CEO of Incentive Solutions. He has more than 30 years of experience overseeing business operations within the incentives industry. Incentive Solutions currently manages more than 220 programs, many of which are in industrial manufacturing and distribution. Mark Herbert may be reached at mherbert@incentivesolutions.com.

This. This is one of my top 21st-century pet peeves. Yes, I needed something that is why I called. Otherwise I would have texted. Too much back and forth and in-depth information needs to be shared instead of fleeting texts. I understand that people are insanely busy these days and the amount of actual face-to-face Read more

This. This is one of my top 21st-century pet peeves. Yes, I needed something that is why I called. Otherwise I would have texted. Too much back and forth and in-depth information needs to be shared instead of fleeting texts. I understand that people are insanely busy these days and the amount of actual face-to-face and telephone correspondence has diminished, but there is something to be said about a personal encounter or a phone call—eye contact, reactions, expressions, tone of voice and subtle nuances not picked up in texts or DMs.

Perhaps we are entrenched in this the new generation of communication, as I watch my own children interact with their acquaintances more through Snapchat, their gaming systems, and texting, for example. So much so that when I witness the bus stop interactions or holiday gatherings, I see heads down buried deep into their phones and eye contact eliminated.

Stop lights are now being positioned in the streets and sidewalks for pedestrian safety; they don’t actually have to lift their head from their phones to the see the street light. Photo credit Interesting Engineering

As of a few years ago, Gallup did some research on how Americans communicate and texting, emailing and phone calls via a cell phone were the popular choices among the ages of 18-50. Americans 65 and older preferred cell phones, landlines (what’s that?) and email. “The younger the American, the more likely he or she is to communicate using these newer technologies, meaning millennials today are a generation that is highly “in touch” with their friends and relatives … It is also possible that younger Americans have simply been the quickest to embrace the communication capabilities that new technology represents, and that use of such technology will increase in older age cohorts as the millennials age in the years ahead,” said the report. I would have to think that if this same research was done today, social media and texting would be the overwhelmingly favorite choice to communicate.

Running A Business

When it comes to the contractor in the field, we asked some on our Trade Talk group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/1545670948828435/) about their preferred form of communication and most overwhelmingly replied that they prefer email or text so that the correspondence can be recorded or documented. One user commented, “Knowing what channels and methods your customers live in is so important. Giving them multiple ways to communicate with is key. Giving them the option to use what channel/method they prefer is the key.”

This somehow brings me to industry trade shows. As I recall, there were some media outlets that tried virtual trade shows throughout the years, and from what I gathered, they didn’t fare too well. I give credit for the creativity for sure, but you just can’t mimic one-on-one interaction and the ability to “touch” and test out certain products on the floor during the show. And, there is that ever so important connectivity you get with company reps and fellow tradesman while traversing a selected industry trade show. Yes, there are still a lot of trade shows, but there is still value there if the particular trade show is a specific target for you and your business.

Getting Social

According to statista (www.statista.com), market leader Facebook was the first social network to surpass 1 billion registered accounts and currently sits at almost 2.41 billion monthly active users, followed by YouTube at 2 billion, with Instagram coming at 1 billion. According to the site, due to a constant presence in the lives of their users, social networks have a decidedly strong social impact. The blurring between offline and virtual life, as well as the concept of digital identity and online social interactions, are some of the aspects that have emerged in recent

Nevertheless, the wonderful community created on Instagram, for example, encourages support and communication, but better yet, when these people behind the user names and avatars get together for an Instagram meet up, this is where life-long friendships are made and solidified.

Getting back to the original text screen grab above. Is it possible that my number comes up and somebody just doesn’t want to talk at that given time? Nah, c’mon, I can’t believe that for a second. But we do live in a world with a shortened attention span, so the quick text and social media message are the preferred choice here in most instances.

The subtle irony here is that I am posting this to our site and through social media. At Mechanical Hub, we value our followers and interactions each and every day. We hope that we can meet you at a meet up, trade show or some industry event. Stay tuned for more on that …

Most of us have works spaces that are not connected to central heating, making them a large cold spot in most home heating systems. When winter comes, an unheated workspace can be a cold and unappealing place for work, home maintenance, tinkering and other hobbies. One way to keep a workspace toasty even in the Read more

Most of us have works spaces that are not connected to central heating, making them a large cold spot in most home heating systems. When winter comes, an unheated workspace can be a cold and unappealing place for work, home maintenance, tinkering and other hobbies.

One way to keep a workspace toasty even in the harshest winters is choosing a top-notch electric heater. Electric heaters offer several benefits over other heating systems — they don’t require venting like gas heaters and can be more cost-effective.

Electric Heater Benefits

One factor to consider when heating a workspace is safety. Electric heaters do not pose the same risks as propane or natural gas heaters. Along with a work vehicle, a contractor probably has other flammables in their workspace. Because there are no open flames or exhaust fumes with electric heaters, they’re safer to use around vehicles, gas, liquids and tools.

Electric heaters also offer efficiencies that other heaters do not. With an electric heater, every bit of electricity used is converted into heat. With propane, on the other hand, only 80 percent of its fuel is used for heat while the other 20 percent is lost by-products. That fuel loss translates into inefficiency and can mean higher costs.

Electric heaters also provide the flexibility to provide warmth without taking up floor space or creating a tripping hazard. They can be mounted on the wall or ceiling, and angled to push warm air horizontally, vertically or in any other desired direction. These installation and airflow options are much harder to achieve with a gas heater.

Choosing the Appropriate Heater

Whether using the workspace for jobs, random hobbies or a regular hangout, there are several electric heating options to choose from including radiant electric, portable heaters and fan-forced units:

  • Radiant electric heaters are designed to target a specific area with heat, typically using infrared technology to heat the objects in the room instead of the air.
  • Portable heaters are easy to move around the work space, targeting heat to the necessary spots where one is working.
  • Fan-forced heaters move warm air throughout an entire work space for balanced, all-over heating.

Consider how the heater will be best used in your work space before making a selection.

Heater Installation Tips
How best to install an electric heater varies depending on the type. Some models may need to be wired by an electrician or trained professional, while others are portable and can be easily mounted and simply plugged in.

Before hooking anything up, be sure to check the voltage requirements. With a plug-in 120V electric garage heater, for example, all that’s needed is an outlet. An electric heater that runs at a voltage higher than 120, however, will need to be wired in. This will require some electrical work.

Also, make sure that the model of heater is sized appropriately for the space. To ensure a heater is generating enough heat to warm a designated area, match the wattage level of the heater with the size of the space.

No matter how it is being used, if you’re looking to heat up a workspace, one might consider an electric heater to keep the space warm even in the coldest of conditions. Marley Engineered Products has a wide variety of electric garage heater options to suit any and all needs. View the selection at https://www.marleymep.com/electric-garage-heaters.

Jim Herring is the supervisor of Total Custom Solutions & Technical Services at Marley Engineered Products®, a leading North American designer and manufacturer of reliable comfort heating and ventilation solutions for residential, commercial and institutional buildings. Recognized by contractors, architects, engineers and HVAC professionals for providing a wide range of high-performance, reliable heating and ventilation solutions, Marley Engineered Products’ brands include QMark®, Berko®, Fahrenheat® and Leading Edge®