HVACR manufacturers reported positive 2018 sales growth according to the latest AHR Expo and ASHRAE Journal Annual Economic Outlook Survey. Last year’s confidence in the industry’s economic outlook is forecasted to carry into 2019, with 87 percent of respondents anticipating positive business prospects heading into the new fiscal year.

The report indicates that the HVACR market is primed for continued business growth. According to organizers of the AHR Expo, reports for 2018 are at an all-time high, with 44 percent of respondents reporting a significant sales increase of more than 10 percent year-on-year; this is up from the 2017 record of 35 percent.

“This is considerable data confirming the continued growth of our industry, even amongst market shifts and issues facing professionals,” said Clay Stevens, manager of the AHR Expo. “It is further indication that the changing market has potential to grow in unexpected ways, and industry professionals need to stay abreast of the latest technologies and equipment available to them. The AHR Expo is a catalyst for this business growth, as engineers, contractors, manufacturers, and other professionals from all facets come together to share ideas that advance the industry.”

Sixty-four percent of responding organizations reported their intention to debut new products at the 2019 show, a 5 percent increase from last year.

Survey respondents also expect to see steady growth across all market segments in the areas of: residential, light commercial, heavy commercial, schools, non-school institutional buildings, office buildings, lodging, manufacturing/industrial, data/telecom centers, hospitals/healthcare, restaurants/hospitality, and laboratories/cleanrooms. Of these, lodging is forecasted to experience the fastest growth, with projections up 10 percent from last year at 64 percent. Overall sector growth predictions are up in comparison to last year as well, with positive outlooks across all markets at nearly 60 percent or better forecasts for excellent or good growth projections for 2019.

For the third year, the report shows a shift in potential market drivers for business, with retrofit and renovations taking the lead for 2019 at 36 percent — up nearly 10 percent from last year. Previous years saw prospects for new construction, which was the highest rated in 2018; and maintenance and replacement in 2017.

Reliability remains the most important customer requirement when making buying decisions, according to the survey. Responses indicate a steady rise in energy efficiency and indoor air quality as close second top-rated factors for purchase decision-making. Energy efficiency saw the most growth, up 6 percent to more than 96 percent of respondents ranking it important to very important in their considerations. This aligns with the responses for most important trend or issue with potential impact for businesses in 2019 — leading the charge is the Internet of Things (IoT) and the rise of connected buildings as they relate to energy efficiency and smart control.

The survey found that issues of concern are reported as rising tariffs and the need to hire more professionals across the HVAC industry. These topics and more will be discussed during the 2019 education program at the expo. Attendees can view the full schedule of free industry sessions, ASHRAE conference sessions, and ASHRAE Learning Institute (ALI) courses.

The AHR Expo, co-sponsored by ASHRAE and AHRI, is held concurrently with ASHRAE’s Winter Conference. The event will take place on Jan. 14-16, 2019 at the Georgia World Congress in Atlanta. For more information, go here.