I spent most of this week at the 2009 AHR Expo in Chicago. The location is a favorite of expo organizers and attendees, since it offers affordable flights and fairly easy driving times from almost anywhere.
Most of the record AHR events have taken place at the city's McCormick Place convention complex.
Although numbers have not yet been released, no one is expecting this show to be a record. With a recession -- possibly the worst in 70 years -- many exhibitors told me they weren't expecting much.
And yet it was many of those same companies who said they were pretty pleased when the show was over. Perhaps their low expectations made them especially happy when booth traffic was heavy, as it was much of Tuesday. (Monday, the show's first day and usually the busiest, seemed slower to me and some of those I spoke to).
And despite tight credit markets, some attendees were buying. I saw several "sold" signs on large pieces of sheet metal machinery. So some people have access to credit or a lot of cash. Booth staffs at those locations were obviously pleased.
Cab drivers around the city told me they were glad the AHR Expo was in town. Convention business has been slow, they said, and many know the expo's reputation for bringing thousands to Chicago at the coldest time of the year.
I also saw signs welcoming AHR Expo attendees at Midway Airport and along Michigan Avenue, the city's famed Magnificent Mile of high-end shopping. I didn't recall seeing those before, especially in the downtown business district. It impressed me.
If you went to AHR this year, what did you think?