The well-known International Sanitation and Heating (ISH) show in Frankfurt, Germany, is coming to North America beginning in 2002.

The America Supply Association, Canadian Institute of Plumbing & Heating and the Plumbing, Heating, Cooling Contractors National Association, in partnering with Messe Frankfurt Inc., "is positioned to accomplish the integration of related product categories that the American industry has been demanding for several years," according to show organizers.

The new show, ISH North America, will debut in the fall of 2002 and will be held in Toronto, Canada. Earlier reports said it had tentatively been scheduled for Orlando, Fla. It will be held October 31-November 2, 2002, at the National Trade Centre in Toronto. Both the American Supply Association (ASA) and PHCC annual conventions will continue to be held in conjunction with the new trade show.

Dirk Ebener, Messe Frankfurt, from his Atlanta office, said "It took me four years to get this together, I've had my eyes on it that long." He said he firmly believes such a show is what manufacturers and potential attendees have been clamoring for. That is, a chance to visit cross-industry but related needs such as plumbing, heating and cooling, kitchen and bath, under one roof - similar to the ISH show in Frankfurt.

But isn't U.S. industry, and North American consumer tastes, different from what one might find in Europe? In the United States, for instance, there is less emphasis on hydronics or "wet heat;" also more emphasis on air conditioning; and more contractors who concentrate on one portion of work rather than trying to spread their expertise through many different areas.

Not a problem, insists Ebener. He said halls will be separate so that an air conditioning mechanic, for instance, will not have to wade through aisles and aisles of kitchen faucets to find what he is interested in. "The buyer will be able to focus on specific industry needs," Ebener said, while still eliminating the need for so many separate trade shows.

Consolidating shows?

Such a new trade show will ultimately serve to eliminate the need for some competing trade shows, according to Ebener, who used the word "consolidation." At the same time, he said, the intent is not specifically to do away with those shows, including the annual AHR Expo, Kitchen and Bath Expo, Home Builders show, etc.

Ebener said the intent for now is to hold the show annually in October, and to move it around geographically. "The long, long-term goal," he said, "will be to grow to the point where only a Chicago McCormick-style facility will hold all the exhibitors and attendees. Las Vegas, he said, should have a facility within five years that will match McCormick Place for suitability.

While he realizes there are obstacles, Ebener said there are also some advantages in putting on such a show. "We are not an association," he said. "We do not have members whose interests we have to best serve, but instead can concentrate on bringing together buyers and manufacturers."

But why have a trade show at all? At a time when more and more manufacturers complain about the cost of attending such shows, and the Internet is making inroads with web surfing, is there even a future for trade shows?

Ebener said things haven't changed all that much since such shows first were held in Frankfurt some 760 years ago. "It was a place then to bring your livestock, your produce, to literally look into the horse's mouth," he said. "Buyers today still want to touch the faucet, feel the materials. Virtual reality is only an additional tool. We have already seen living reporting of trade shows over the Internet, and this is valuable for those who cannot attend in person. But at a trade show you will always be able to accomplish what you cannot over the Internet, such as talking to a salesman, looking inside the machine that you want to buy. This will continue to be important, as sometimes selection of a certain motor or valve will have an influence over what you are doing."

The show will include segments focusing on kitchen and bath products, engineering, plumbing, pumps, faucets and fixtures, PVF, heating systems (including hydronics), air conditioning, ventilation technology, measuring, testing, control and regulation equipment, and more.

ASA President Don Maloney said, "This not only heralds a new era for trade shows in our industry, but more importantly will help build a foundation of international participation from both exhibitor and attendee populations."

Lastly, there may be a problem with the word "sanitation" in its ISH usage. Ebener acknowledges. Americans tend to restrict its meaning to toilets and sewers, as in preventing disease, rather than in a broader sense applying to such niceties as gold-plated faucets and recessed lighting.

The event organizers plan to have the Canadian border "eliminated" for the show's exhibitors. Canada Customs will create a "virtual border" inside the National Trade Centre, allowing Customs clearance of all goods and materials that exhibitors may bring for the show. This, according to Ebener, eliminates any possible delays and exhibitors' need to complete paperwork at the border. Eliminating another potential obstacle, it is planned that the Canadian Customs and Revenue Agency will allow all booth materials, including brochures and giveaways, to arrive at the convention site without duty or GST (Goods and Services Tax). Furthermore, international exhibitors and attendees will have "special VIP status" with Canadian immigration providing for easy entry procedures.

Cosmopolitan Toronto has 4.4 million residents, more than 32,000 hotel rooms and some 2 million square feet of meeting and convention space, and over 5,000 restaurants and eateries.

For more information contact Inge Calderon at ASA headquarters, 222 Merchandise Mart Plaza, Suite 1400, Chicago, Ill. 60654; 312-464-0090; e-mail: IngeC@asa.net. Or Messe Frankfurt Inc., 1600 Parkwood Circle, Ste. 515, Atlanta, Ga. 30339; 770-984-8016; fax 770-984-8023; e-mail: info@usa.messefrankfurt.com; www.ish-frankfurt.de.

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