I’m kind of lucky, in a way, when it comes to business travel. I’ve had colleagues who do pretty much the same job I do, only for other industries (such as aviation, restaurant management, comic book publishing or what-have-you) and they seem to be constantly travelling. There’s always an exposition or a symposium or a conference they need to be jetting off to—you’d almost think they were on the sales side for all the travel they do.
I, on the other hand, cover the plumbing and heating beat. While people need water and heat year-round, plumbers mostly want to work in the summer months (especially guys doing new construction). So plumbing shows are typically in the depth of winter, which means most of my travel gets packed into a few short months at the start of the year, typically the dreariest days of January and February.
And because the time of year is so gloomy, it’s almost always to someplace warm and sunny, such as Atlanta or Las Vegas or Orlando (although my flight out of Las Vegas last year did get cancelled due to snow—must have brought it with me from Chicago!).
I’ve just finished attending my first big show of the year, Design and Construction Week (which is actually more like two shows, the International Builders’ Show and the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show packed into one). You can see our coverage in this issue’s feature and in various articles throughout. But no time to rest! I’m already getting in shape for the AHR Expo next week.
Oh, and when I say, “getting in shape,” I mean that literally because the big shows—especially AHR—can be physically exhausting. The show floors are huge and if you haven’t scheduled enough time between meetings you can end up having to run from one to make the other and then you have to introduce yourself in a muck-sweat, panting like a dog. Not the best first impression. So, if you’re going, get in your cardio and find a comfortable pair of well broken-in shoes.
Another essential: getting enough sleep. And unfortunately, there are a thousand-and-one things to keep you up late: organizing notes, writing up daily e-newsletters for the next day, posting to social media, networking events put on by the show sponsors, and let’s not forget dinner and drinks with friends and co-workers you never get to see anywhere else.But it’s all worth it to get hands-on with the newest designs, innovations and technology the industry has to offer. Every year I come away amazed at the things some contractors and manufacturers are doing. Every year I come away with enough new product information to fill half a year’s worth of CONTRACTOR magazines.
Over the years I’ve come to think of D&C Week as the “in front of the wall show” and AHR as the “behind the wall show.” D&C has a focus on (naturally) design, with high-end decorative fixtures being a big draw. AHR, on the other hand, has the new, high-tech, variable-speed technology, the new leak detection technology, the new press tools, the new heat pumps, actuators, building automation controls, software solutions—all the stuff that the end users almost never get to see.
But thinking like that is really just a way for me to organize my work. There’s plenty of “front of the wall” at AHR and a lot of “behind the wall” at D&C. I’m just lucky for the opportunity to be a part of it—and at the same time, man, I’m glad I’m not travelling every month!