March 8, 2007 - A Yankee At ISH Frankfurt *Final Fair Update*
Last-Day ObservationsIt's my last day of the show, but there are still two more days to go. There seem to be more and more people here. The last two days, there have been so many people trying to catch the train to the fair that many have to wait for the next train ... or the next. I waited for two trains yesterday, but lucked out today.
The ISH fairgrounds aren't that far from the main Frankfurt train station - about a 10-minute walk, I'm told, but if you're spending eight to nine hours on your feet, the last thing you want to do is walk when you don't have to.
Today I met an Israeli company (AMT Group) that makes an electric radiant heating mat. They were happy to give me some English-language literature and to let me know they have a U.S. distributor (Mohawk, they told me).
I also saw another electric radiant company (EcoFloor) that, in addition to making electric radiant floor and wall products, manufacture ice and snowmelting systems for roofs, gutters and downpipes. Electric cable is inserted into the gutters and down pipes to keep dangerous ice from forming on roofs.
Interesting observation No. 1: There are a lot of tubs shown here - stone tubs, teak tubs, whirlpool tubs, safety tubs for the elderly - but no tubs in the hotels. I guess only homeowners put tubs in their bathrooms. What do hotels have against tub people, anyway?
Interesting observation No. 2: I've seen a lot of ties on men here, and not just on exhibitors. Most of the men and women attending the show are wearing business attire, or business casual. You do see some people wearing jeans and sneakers, but these seem to be mostly young people.
Interesting observation No. 3: Did I mention the size of the booths (stands)? Ellen Rohr and I were amazed at how much booth space is used to highlight, in some cases, a small amount of product. Granted, the massive booths like Viessmann, REHAU, Hansgrohe, etc., have a lot of product to show customers and potential customers. But smaller companies still use a large amount of space to show off a few products.
Well, tomorrow I'm off to be a tourist. It's been quite an experience here at ISH Frankfurt, but well worth it (tired, aching feet and all!). I tried not to gawk too much, but that's difficult to do at times.
Stay tuned to the print magazine for more detailed information on renewable technologies and energy-efficient equipment.
~Kelly Faloon, Managing Editor Plumbing & Mechanical magazine
Day Two Report From ISHThe Fair Continues
My day started out with a press tour of the very large REHAU booth - complete with interpreter for the only English-speaking journalist. One of the most interesting things was the radiant cooling product - the product is actually installed, and you can walk through a corridor and actually feel how cool the air and the surroundings are. There is also an area where the company demonstrates the strength of its pipe, among other things. The tour also included many other products, mostly marketed in Europe, including solar and a central vacuum system.
At the ITT lunch, the subject was the company's efforts to market more effectively to the building trades in Europe - giving the customer only one face to deal with. ITT has two major brands in Europe, and in some countries, customers can receive sales calls from representatives of both brands. This new effort serves to streamline the process, and make the company easier to work with. While the company has a strong building trades presence in the United States, it comes in at No. 3 (behind Grundfos and Wilo). But ITT believes that it can compete effectively with this new strategy.
I made my way over to one of the halls that house The Bathroom Experience (the bath part of our Kitchen and Bath Industry show) in the afternoon. I was told to visit the Hansgrohe and Villeroy & Boch booths - I was stunned at how large they were! I'm not sure about square footage, but each one looked even larger than the traditionally massive Kohler booth at K/BIS.
The Ideal Standard/Jado booth (American Standard's European counterpart) also had an extremely large booth. But one thing you need to understand, part of the reason some of these booths are so large is that they have reception areas where they offer attendees food and beverages. It’s all about the hospitality.
Alcoholic beverages, too! In some of the halls, there are shops where you can buy bottled water, a Coke, and a bottle of beer.
And smoking … did I mention the smoking? Europeans seem to smoke a lot more than Americans, or maybe it just seems that way because they smoke everywhere - even on the show floors.
Tomorrow is my last fair day, and there is still a lot to see. And yes, my feet are starting to hurt ...
~Kelly Faloon, Managing Editor Plumbing & Mechanical magazine
Day One Report From ISH
Everybody warned me that ISH Frankfurt was a big show, but they were wrong - it's gigantic!
It's the first day of the "fair" as they call it. I managed to get through only about one-third of all the exhibits here, mostly in the energy and building technologies area. This is where the Europeans show off their renewable energy technologies.
I saw a lot of solar energy panels, heat pumps, geothermal systems, as well as some gray water and rain water collection systems. There is a whole floor devoted to fireplaces, which can be used for supplemental heating.
The renewable energies press conference I attended was geared mostly for Germany and Europe, of course, but these countries seem to have some of the same problems with renewable and energy-efficient technologies that Americans have - communication and education of the consumer. In fact, that was the purpose of the press conference: to get the message out to the European consumer, via the European press, about the amount of energy savings they can achieve through renewable energies and energy-efficient technologies.
Sounds a little familiar, doesn't it?
One panelist at the press conference said, "We talk about light bulbs to the public, but that won't save enough energy. Consumers don't realize they can save the most through the energy-efficiency of their heating systems."
Other panelists talked about the continued improvement in biogas and low-fuels.
Well, there's more to see in the next two days, and I'll be back to keep you updated.
Auf Wiedersehen!~Kelly Faloon, Managing Editor Plumbing & Mechanical magazine