By the time you see this, Snips will be in the middle of our busy winter travel season, attending conventions and trade shows across the United States.

This year, our schedule is taking us to Las Vegas, Dallas, Chicago, Toronto, San Jose, Calif.; and probably a few others I forgot.

It means a lot of juggling to make sure the magazine still comes out on time, but somehow we manage.

I recently returned from two somewhat different conventions: the International Builders' Show in Orlando, Fla., and the AHR Expo, which was held in Chicago. You'll be seeing coverage in future issues.

The two shows are both considered "heavyweights" in their respective industries. The Builders' Show is one of the nation's biggest trade events, attracting more than 100,000 to Orlando's Orange County Convention Center. It generates a lot of interest in the trade press and the mainstream media. A number of "handyman" radio shows broadcast live from the event, and it was easy to spot the television crews on the show floor.

A very broad, all-encompassing show, it has exhibitors promoting everything from garage doors to artificial grass. Finding the products of interest to sheet metal and HVAC contractors takes a bit of work, especially since the show takes up two huge convention halls.

The much smaller AHR Expo, by comparison, is a niche show. You probably won't see a reporter from the Philadelphia Inquirer there, but whether you work in duct fabrication or install furnaces and air conditioners, you won't have to work hard to find what you're looking for. Odds are the products you're interested in are just a few feet away from wherever you're standing.

The AHR Expo knows its target market so well, it regularly brings tens of thousands of HVAC industry workers to whatever city is hosting the event. This year's show attracted almost 58,000 to Chicago's McCormick Place, typically the site of the most popular AHR Expo events. That was short of the show's all-time record, but still a good number by any standard.

And many exhibitors informally polled by Snips were upbeat at this year's show, happy with the visitor traffic at their booths. Even those who said it could have been busier acknowledge the show is one they have to attend. You can't get a much better testimonial than that.


Two items: No.1: Update the magazine - why?

The 1997 look was good enough for me.

No. 2: Thank you for printing the equipment-donation letter in your (January) column. Let's hope they get donations.

Donald J. Sochurek (retired)

Allis Heating Inc.

Muskego, Wis.