Last week John Gunderson and I attended AHR in Atlanta. He shared his observations in a prior post and, we decided to not compare notes so as to share two perspectives.
- It’s a large show. Lots of walking. Lots of talking. Lots of products. It’s drinking the industry from a firehouse and, for a distributor or contractor walking the show, they’d be overwhelmed with product and challenged to remember what they saw.
- AHR is truly an industry show. Met with manufacturers who serve other manufacturers as OEMs, and then traditional manufacturers, distributors, reps, contractors and some end-users. And many software companies seeking to serve contractors and digitize the business to improve accuracy and efficiency.
- Much new product with introductions to support new regulations and a number that are integrating technology / connectivity.
- As expected, tools, tools, and more tools.
- Much equipment on display to support contractor materials handling seeking to improve productivity and ensure safety.
- Lots of educational sessions, however, to attend, need to plan ahead, plan to be there for the entire show and have multiple people from your company attend so you can have a “train the trainer” strategy … one goes to sessions and then they debrief everyone after the show.
- Surprisingly, didn’t see any large distributor pavilions to attract contractors.
- Companies promoting based upon energy efficiency, clean water, clean air, climate change, COVID efficacy and detection
- Market feedback was for slow / no growth year in most markets
- A few commented about government rebates and the Inflation Reduction Act
- Heard that Watts is pulling back on some digital marketing … perhaps all digital all the time, while inexpensive and “measurable” isn’t the sole solution in trying to reach contractors?
On the technology front, two companies impressed me the most:
- Trimble and their enhanced Supplier Xchange solution to connect contractors directly with their distributors. It’s a “point to point” solution that can support price requests and procurement of material. Inevitably this will be a more effective eCommerce solution than expecting contractors to “hunt and peck” on a website. A website, supported by robust product content, is needed to provide contractors with information (spec sheets, brochures, videos, features / benefits, BIM files, inventory availability, product-specific pricing) but for multi-line item orders, “direct connections” is the key.
- Bluon also has an interesting solution and, I believe, could co-exist with Trimble. Whereas Trimble may be more of an “office” and project environment solution, Bluon appears to be more of a field / technician solution and could be very appropriate for engaging smaller contractors (which typically are high cost-to-serve accounts for distributors. Their platform engages technicians and, uniquely, they integrate Curri which, theoretically, enables material to go from the distributor directly to the jobsite (or residence) where the contractor is working, enabling projects to “get done.” Bluon already has engaged with over 140 distributors and has connections to 2000+ distributor branches.
The two companies have different pricing models, but both are cost effective for distributors given the profitability of their targeted contractor audience. If you are a distributor, I’d encourage you to check out both of these. If you are a manufacturer, both will eventually represent marketing opportunities.
And for some of the sights we saw …
If you attended AHR, what were your key take aways? What manufacturers / products had a lasting impression?
1 thought on “Sights & Observations from AHR 2023”
Thanks for sharing, probably one of the most relevant information for is the no growth projection for this year