Sometimes you get lucky, and that is what happened to me at the last ISH show. I spent the week having the time of my life.
So Many Reasons: Why should you go? And what is so good about this show? Let me start by saying I am a very proud American. Sometimes I am so proud I think that everything of importance started in the good ole’ U.S. of A. I can’t imagine an original idea starting anywhere but in the United States. Of course, it’s a very dumb attitude to take. But stop and think about how many Americans actually think and believe this way.
What ISH will do is open your eyes to the rest of the world. You will become global overnight. With this insight, you will recognize that plumbing and hydronics exist in other countries, and some of these places have neat ideas. Once you have this mindset, you can really enjoy ISH.
ISH is not a German show. It isn’t even a European show. It is truly a world plumbing show. I saw products on display from every continent (with the exception of Antarctica). Being a world show, Americans and Canadians have an advantage in that the universal language spoken is English. For example, at one Korean manufacturer’s booth, they spoke Korean, German and English. At an Italian manufacturer’s booth, they spoke Italian, Swedish and English. At every booth I stopped at, I could converse without a problem.
The new and innovative ideas on display will boggle your mind. Many of the newer products that have entered the marketplace in the United States have come from other parts of the world. To name a few: The pull-out spray kitchen faucet is one of the hottest “new” faucets around. They were shown at ISH and used overseas long before the United States ever considered the product. Air admittance valves have been used in Europe and Asia for 20 years, another ISH product. Their whirlpool tubs are much further advanced than ours, with more interesting features.
If you are into hydronic heating, you will have a field day. Nobody does radiant heating systems as quickly and efficiently as they will demonstrate at ISH. There are some great labor- and money-saving ideas (as well as products to go with it).
I spent one day alone in the tool building — and saw tools I’ve never seen in this country. Of course, if you attend ISH, you can find out how to obtain those tools to put you ahead of your competitors. If it is a power tool, don’t worry about the European electrical system. They ask what the power demands are, and make the tool to those specifications. (Just remember that the United States is 125V and 60 hz.)
Besides seeing new and innovative ways of doing things, you may find opportunities for new business adventures. One contractor I know saw wood-fired boilers and started to offer those to his customers. Speaking about wood, one entire building is dedicated to wood burning. They have, on display, real wood-burning stoves. The kind you cook food in, not the ones for heating.
If you have noticed the latest craze with wood-fired pizza ovens, it didn’t start in the United States. They were on display at ISH before the first restaurant ever thought of adding one in our country.
You may want to offer your high-end customers the opportunity to add a steam bath to their house. There are ideas for steam bath installations that are miles ahead of what is currently available in this country.
Finally, there is Germany. It is a beautiful country with many quaint villages. There are castles all over the place, and walled cities that date back centuries. They consider a new home to be one built after 1860.
You may have heard wild stories that Americans are not welcome in Germany or Europe. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I found the German people I encountered to be extremely friendly and outgoing. They were happy to show you their country and talk for hours on end.
The Preparation: So once you decide that ISH is the place to be in March, start getting prepared. I would recommend you begin working out about a month before the show. Get those legs in really strong shape. You are going to need it. If you don’t believe me, try to imagine the size of ISH. There are 10 different buildings, all interconnected by passageways. If you go outside, they run a shuttle bus from one end of the show to the other.
These 10 buildings contain anywhere from one to three floors of product display. You can easily walk 10 to 15 miles a day. Did I mention this show is huge?
You also need to build up your tolerance to alcohol. Every major booth has a bar serving beer, wine and other alcoholic beverages. They also serve all kinds of food. In one booth, we sat down to sausage (from the manufacturer’s local area) and potato salad. They considered it a small snack. If you are a teetotaler like me, they also have those interesting European soft drinks and lots of coffee, cappuccino and espresso. I think I put on 10 pounds, but I didn’t have one unpleasant experience on my trip to ISH.
So pack your bags, make your reservations and sign up early. Mark down ISH on your calendar for March of 1999. I will guarantee that you will thank PM for running this trip. See you in Germany!