Snow closed the Frankfurt airport and kept crowds down during the first day of the giant ISH trade show on March 12 in Germany. The snow stranded would-be ISH 2013 visitors in airports in Stuttgart, Warsaw, Athens and other European cities. It added hours to the journey of those driving into Frankfurt for the show.

During a press conference, Grohe CEO David Haines announced a promotion during which the German plumbing manufacturer would give away a Smart car to a show visitor from the trades as part of its Grohe Professional program. He noted the car was buried under snow in a parking space outside one of the 10 exhibit halls occupied by ISH.

He also talked about the Grohe Jal Academy in India, far from the snow in Germany. He described the training program as “helping people to help themselves by educating young people from economically disadvantaged backgrounds to become professional plumbers.” Grohe employees participate in the training, often going to India on their vacation, he said. The academy has 400 graduates with 40 more enrolled this year.

Much of Haines’ talk centered on Grohe’s growth in 2012. Company sales increased 21% last year, including 15% growth in the Americas. “This is the first time growth has reached this level in many years,” he said of the U.S. market. “Construction is picking up. We saw a good result in sales.”

The global increase in sales came across all product categories: showers up 7%, faucets 4%, kitchen products 6% and sanitary systems 9%. The company introduced 150 new products in 2012 worldwide. Of total revenue, 32% came from products less than three years old.

Incorporated into the product categories are Grohe Zero, which is the company’s low-lead brass, and Grohe EcoJoy, which contributes to a sustainable environment, Haines said.

On the heating side of ISH, the environment was a central focus of the press conference conducted by Bosch Thermotechnology. President Uwe Glock said that while Germany continues to be a pioneer in renewable energy, it needs to do more work on heating and cooling buildings more efficiently.

He noted that 40% of the energy used worldwide is consumed in buildings, with heating and cooling accounting for 80% of that amount. Transportation and industry account for the other 60% of the energy used, with each consuming 30%.

Systems that use oil to heat buildings will continue to play a part but will be in decline, Glock said. In contrast, systems using electric heat pumps will gain ground.

Gas heat pumps will grow in importance as well. He predicted that natural gas will be available for the next 50 to 100 years at good rates. New natural gas resources have been detected, particularly in North America, and supply is increasing.

In detailing the company’s sales, Glock noted that 90% of Bosch Thermotechnology’s sales take place in Europe with 6% in the United States, and 4% in Asia, Africa and Australia.

“In the U.S., our heat pump business expanded and our market share is increasing,” he said.

Glock also noted that the company’s industrial segment remains very important with its heat pumps, high-efficiency boilers and solar thermal products.