Eastern Energy Expo Goes Big

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This year’s Eastern Energy Expo, held in Hershey, Pa. in May, was co-hosted by OESP (Oil & Energy Service Professionals), the Atlantic Region Energy Expo, and the PA Petroleum Association. The event drew more than 3,700 show-goers.

Dave Yates, president of York, PA-based F. W. Behler, Inc., was among the 60+ educators who presented business, technical, and Women in Energy track seminars.  Yates’ “Why you should be selling snowmelt systems” presentation drew a good group of business owners.


Rick Brindamour (left) and Doug Bird (right) Taco product marketing managers, talk with a group of show attendees about hot water recirculation. Photo by Rachel Ruhl, Common Ground

Yates gave attendees “four and-a-half key points in selling snowmelt systems,” each stirring lively conversation.  The first:  training is essential and boosts a professional’s value as an asset to the installation firm (Yates was the first installation pro to complete the RPA’s three-day radiant heating/cooling course for ASSE 19210 certification).

Yates added that snowmelt systems strengthen the bottom line. “It not only extends a firm’s service offering, but the knowledge base, while also helping to differentiate your expertise—this isn’t ‘commodity’ work.”

There are medical benefits as well, especially for commercial systems. Health threats, from backaches to heart attacks can be avoided. It’s also an “insurance policy” against ice-slip/fall legal claims.

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Dave Yates emphasized the importance of adding the capability of snowmelting to an installer’s arsenal. Photo by John Vastyan, Common Ground

“Finally, snowmelt systems offer environmental benefits,” added Yates.  Salt and chemicals are harmful not only to pavements, sidewalks and interior surfaces, but soil and streams, too.  And, substantial equipment costs and evening overtime charges can be avoided.

Nathaniel Williamson, business development manager for Star Gas Partners, traveled in from Philadelphia specifically for Yates’ presentation.

“We see snowmelt systems as a growth opportunity; I needed to hear what Dave had to say,” he commented. “Dave’s focus on how to sell these systems was valuable. Of course, I’m here for the entire show, so I’ll return to work well prepared.”

Learning while at the show

Educational presentations included:

  • Jon Scharingson, Renewable Energy Group – boidiesel’s value-added opportunities in Northeastern markets.
  • Jim DePalma, Wales-Darby – how to sell hydronics.
  • Dave Holdorf, residential hydronics trainer, Taco Comfort Solutions – variable speed circulators and their application, and NORA Gold advanced hydronics.
  • Randi Busse, president, Workforce Development Group, Inc., delivered two business development presentations to Women in Energy members – one, about improving customer service, and another about creating a culture of ownership among employees.
  • Ralph Adams, OESP’s president, and service manager of Parker Fuel Oil Co. in Ellicott City, MD – NORA Gold advanced air flow, and evaluating existing duct systems.
  • Anthony Reikow, B. J. Terroni’s master trainer and hydronics guru, “Pipe it Right . . . it Matters!”—a presentation about the importance of near-boiler piping.

Dave Holdorf, residential trainer, Taco Comfort Solutions, talks with seminar attendees about the importance of variable speed circulation. Photo by Rachel Ruhl, Common Ground

Educational seminars didn’t compete with the well-attended trade show. The general consensus among manufacturers at the show was that the crowd was strong, and that they received good questions from attendees.

Cody Schoeffield and Peter Kilchenstein, service technicians with Ellicott City, MD-based Parker Fuel, said that they attended several technical seminars.  “I just returned from the polypropylene venting class; it was excellent,” said Kilchenstein. “And now, on the show floor, we can learn quickly about new technology from several manufacturers whose products we use regularly,” added Schoeffield.

On the show floor

Beckett Corporation, based in Elyria, Ohio, claimed a large piece of real estate in the show’s main hall. Jonathan Beckett, VP, sales and marketing, said that the show is especially important for two key reasons:  to have the opportunity to present new products to contractors, wholesalers, reps and OEM customers, and relationship-building. “Our industry is very heavily relational, and this show is a terrific opportunity to build new relationships and to solidify existing ones,” he said.

At the Taco Comfort Solutions booth, product experts were busy answering questions about new ECM circulators, zone valves, and hot water recirculation technologies. Their new circs and water recirculation systems were a hit.  Doug Bird, product manager, said that “the quality of questions [at the show] demonstrate genuine interest in how the products are applied.  These technicians are inspired.  I always enjoy answering in-depth, probing questions.”   


Chuck O’Donnell, Laars Heating Systems marketing manager (center), speaks with two service technician attendees about the company’s new Mascot FT modulating-condensing boiler.

Rich McNally, Eastern regional sales manager for Watts Water Technology, and Jay Vath, product manager, tekmar Controls Systems, held court in the Watts booth to promote several new products, including tekmar’s wi-fi enabled t-stats and snowmelt control, and switching relays for circs or zone valves.

Bryan Ketcham, a service technician with Tunkhannock, PA-based Ace-Robbins, Inc., an HVAC and propane dealership with seven technicians said, “We’re exploring [domestic] water conditioning based on customer demand.  The Watts OneFlow [template assisted crystallization] system – which requires no back-washing or salt – is something we need to know more about.”

Patrick Daly, a manufacturer’s rep with Vernon Bitzer Associates, made arrangements to provide a OneFlow demo at Ace-Robbins within a few weeks.

Western-Global was there to offer fuel storage solutions.  Tim Doling, key accounts manager, introduced show-goers to the TransCube Global 10TCG – a fully transportable, double-walled, stackable 258-gallon fuel tank.  “We’ve answered some great questions.  A customer just left moments ago who expressed interest in a pair of these [tanks].”

Laars Heating Systems Company displayed the new Mascot FT boiler.  Marketing Manager Chuck O’Donnell said the new, low NOx, 95 percent AFUE gas-fired system offers 10:1 modulation.  “It stirred some great conversation here at the show.”


Tim Doling, key accounts manager, Western-Global (left) speaks with a show attendee about the company’s new TransCube Global 10TCG.

“It’s always great to meet and talk with members of a group of tech-savvy field pros,” said Nate Warren, business development manager for Bradford White Corporation. “I also enjoy the opportunity to meet new people, and to maintain relationships that may have begun many years ago.

“There’s no doubt that today’s products require a higher level of understanding, and training, especially considering that these technologies are constantly evolving.  The OESP convention is an ideal venue to advance these conversations, and even to offer hands-on experience with the products,” added Warren.

Outside, the display area had grown substantially over the previous year.  Several manufacturers were displaying new LP delivery trucks.

Tim Fissel, installation manager for New Oxford, PA-based Aero Energy, has been to several OESP/EEE conventions.  He explained that Aero has 200-some employees and that, with the increase in the cost of fuel oil, they quickly made the shift into LP gas deliveries.  “We also do a lot of oil-to-gas conversions these days, installing mostly LP-fired furnaces and boilers, and a good share of heat pumps, too.  This show is always helpful in educating service pros like me, and in seeing the latest technology.”

Women in Energy

Spring-boarding off of their inaugural event at last years’ EEE conference, organizers are now solidifying plans to form the Women in Energy organization.  Judy Garber, who’s stepped out of her role as executive director of OESP, is helping to launch the non-profit. “We’ve generated enough interest to form the group now, chiefly to meet and network with accomplished women who work in the energy industry,” she said.

So it was no surprise to see a 10 to 20 percent increase in the number of women at the show.  Judy Garber explained that she and others discussed all facets of the yet-to-be-formed non-profit. “It’s coming soon!” she declared.  “Within a few months, we’ll have a lot more to say and do.”


In the Women in Energy booth are (left to right), Beth Belcher, H.B. McClure; Courtney Inferrere, Haffners Oil; Judy Garber, EEE liaison; and Beverly Michaud; Musket Corp. Photo by John Vastyan, Common Ground

There were five educational sessions offered specifically under the “Women in Energy” banner, attended by women and men – focusing on personal, career and business development.

Erin Holohan Haskell, president of HeatingHelp.com, expressed enthusiastic support for the group. “Judy Garber has paved the way for women in our industry and it’s an honor to have her as a friend and mentor,” she said.  “When Judy told me about the new Women in Energy association, I jumped at the chance to be involved. Judy and Marjorie Feinman [associate director for the Fuel Merchants of New Jersey], put together a fantastic program at the EEE this year. The educational component was outstanding and I enjoyed meeting so many intelligent and driven industry professionals.”

A big success

“It was great to see such a strong turnout for the convention,” said Ralph Adams, now half-way through his term as president of OESP. “Vendor support was great, too; we sold out both of the halls, and aisle space, too.

“The only complaint I heard was that there were too many good seminars,” continued Adams.  “And, on the first day, the scholarship fundraiser led by George Fantacone—a golfing event—was sold out.”

Through the years, the generosity of corporate and individual show-goers has made an enormous impact for improvement of the industry, training of young service pros, and also for homeowners in need of fuel, or energy efficient heating systems.

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OESP scholarship winners with their co-sponsors. Students in front are Marybeth Mull, Denise Montes, Wyatt Schwanger, Thomas Daros Jr., Garth Reish, and Matthew Juliano. Photo by Frank Colon

Funds raised by golfers exceeded $22,000—a record. Another fundraiser—the Care to Ride event, met with great success, too.  The motorcyclists raised more than $22,000; there were also separate events for walkers, runners, and cyclists.

“Another first was that two women were among the six scholarship recipients,” added Adams.  The funds are awarded to help with trade school costs.

On the trade show’s final day, a wide-eyed group of 10th through 12-th graders from the Lebanon County Career & Technology Center made their way through the show, led by the school’s HVAC/plumbing instructor, Jeffrey Hirneisen.

The students eagerly said that they enjoy the event, that “We’re here to learn,” and that “it’s great to see how equipment works as we prepare for a future in the HVAC industry.”

For more information, visit www.easternenergyexpo.com.  Next year, the event will be held at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, CT.

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