BY BOB MIODONSKI of CONTRACTOR’s staff
ROHNERT PARK, CALIF. — Messe Frankfurt President Roland Bleinroth announced April 27 to members of the Plumbing Manufacturers Institute meeting here that the ISH-North America trade show had brought another group into the fold. Still, two larger trade associations with their own shows remain a distant hope for consolidation.
Speaking at PMI’s Trade Show Consolidation Committee meeting, Bleinroth announced that the 2004 New England Plant Engineering & Facilities Management Show and Conference will be run concurrently with the first two days of ISH-NA on Oct. 14-15 in Boston. The event is expected to attract about 2,000 additional attendees with engineering backgrounds and add 120 new booths.
Responding to questions from PMI members, Bleinroth said efforts to bring the American Society of Plumbing Engineers’ biennial expo and the National Kitchen & Bath Association’s annual Kitchen/Bath Industry Show into ISH-NA have not been as fruitful. He described ASPE as “almost an original founding member” of ISH-NA along with the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors — National Association, American Supply Association and the Canadian Institute of Plumbing & Heating.
“We have an ongoing dialogue with ASPE,” Bleinroth said. “It’s a tedious process but discussion is still going on. Unfortunately, I don’t see ASPE endorsing ISH-North America with the same enthusiasm that we have.”
Nevertheless, the chances of getting ASPE to join ISH-NA probably are better than the likelihood of K/BIS coming on board. Earlier during the Trade Show Consolidation Committee meeting, NKBA Executive Director Larry Spangler and 2004 NKBA President Beverly Dalton spoke to PMI members. That portion of the meeting was closed to members of the press, Bleinroth and PHCC-NA Executive Vice President Ike Casey.
Bleinroth described NKBA’s degree of enthusiasm for merging K/BIS with ISH-NA as between “miniscule and nonexistent.”
“I don’t see that they are hearing from you on why this should happen,” he told PMI members, who have endorsed the concept of fewer and larger trade shows in the plumbing industry. “They have a good show and don’t see the reason for change. They say that ‘only’ 100 of K/BIS exhibitors have plumbing products.”
Other groups have embraced ISH-NA, Bleinroth said, including the Radiant Panel Association, which will co-locate its annual convention and Radiant Expo with the Boston show. Recent additions to the list of supporting organizations include the Gas Appliance Manufacturers Association, New England Fuel Institute, National Oilheat Research Alliance and the Water Quality Association.
“Trade shows are not obsolete; there is nothing that can replace the touch and feel of a trade show as long as humans are involved,” Bleinroth said. “We are the only trade show that started in North America with the goal of trade show consolidation. That is why we came here.”
With ISH-NA going to an every-other-year format after 2004, Casey told PMI members that PHCC is planning an industry event in the off year. The 2005 event could include a one-day “channel marketplace” that would involve wholesalers and contractors.
“We want you to be involved,” Casey told PMI members.
He also mentioned important issues that face contractors and that involve plumbing manufacturers too. One concern is that the quality of plumbing products purchased at The Home Depot, Lowe’s and Sears may not be what it should be, he said.
“But the customer calls the contractor, not the manufacturer,” he said, “and that gets expensive.”