It appears 2009 is going to be an interesting year, with a new political party in control of the White House and Congress, and a recession that experts say is likely to stick around for a while.

Already, it’s causing the administration of President-elect Barack Obama to reconsider some of its priorities for the first days in office.

Also of possible interest to Snips readers, a recession may be starting to impact attendance at some trade shows.

As editor, I receive press invites and general information e-mails about trade shows throughout the construction industry.

In the last few weeks, I’ve started to see more of them promoting the fact rooms are still available, or convention registration and hotel rates have been renegotiated, making attending the event more affordable, the e-mails say. I’ve even seen a few note that even cheaper rates may be available online or by booking outside the room block.

While longtime trade show attendees may have already known this secret, for a show to acknowledge it just to boost attendance was surprising. Most show organizers work very hard to ensure attendees book within room blocks. It makes judging attendance and coordinating transportation to and from convention centers easier. Hotels also count on the guaranteed occupancy rates conventioneers provide. So to encourage such a move was telling about how pre-registrations are going.

It’s too soon for me to predict how this year will fare. The numbers from this month’s AHR Expo in Chicago may be a good indication. McCormick Place in the Windy City is usually the site of the largest AHR events. If final numbers are substantially less than expected, it could signal a difficult time ahead for the industry.

If you are going to the Jan. 26-28 AHR Expo, Snips and many of BNP Media’s other HVAC publications will be there. Come visit us at booth No. 4350 in the south hall.  Associate editor James J. Siegel and I won’t be at the booth all the time - there’s a show to cover, you know - but we will be checking in regularly. We always like to meet readers.

Letters - Learning ‘lean' should be New Year's resolution

Learning ‘lean’ should be New Year’s resolution

I liked your points in the Editor’s Page of the December Snips (“Optimism is the correct economic plan for 2009”).

We need to be optimistic about dealing with the economy. What I find interesting, as you stated, is that some contractors are using “lean” (manufacturing) to help deal with the challenges.

Lean construction offers many answers to help improve value and reduce waste and to help a company be successful. There is much waste in construction. The contractors applying lean are seeing success, but many will only see limited success because they are trying to implement a system by implementing a single tool. The tool will work but won’t be sustained if there is no management support system in place.

What’s more, I don’t feel that the writers and contributors to industry publications like yours have much of an understanding of lean and its possibilities. Just like contractors, the publications will share an article or two, but do not provide a complete understanding for possible users.

Sometimes I see articles that promote lean and others that without directly saying it promoted the opposite way of operating. This must be confusing to readers still trying to understand how to be better.

I don’t know your magazine’s strategy but hope it is more than to just publish news and information related to the industry. Being optimistic is a start. What is your strategy to help people win the war against a down economy?

Nothing improves unless something changes.

Dennis Sowards, president

Quality Support Services Inc.