Monday, September 24, 2007

How to build HVAC business relationships

You can always tell the innovators for any industry. They are bold, creative and do things that their competitors only dream of doing.

ThermalNetics is one of those innovators. Already regarded as a progressive distributor of HVAC products, ThermalNetics furthered its reputation with a spectacular marketing event.

Billed as the 2007 Open House and Product Show Tailgate Party, the company hosted more that 400 customers at its new headquarters in Auburn Hills, MI.

President Rick Sutkiewicz designed the event around a sports/tailgate theme. Guests were invited to try their hand at basketball free throws to win prizes. Three professional basketball players from the Detroit Pistons joined the party to share stories and sign autographs. As if that wasn’t enough the Piston’s cheerleaders, The Automotion Dance Team also performed for guests. Add live music and great food and you have an excellent draw.

The festive atmosphere provided the perfect platform for some serious business and networking. In addition to VIGILAIR, McQuay Industrial was on site to meet and greet potential customers. McQuay brought 2 tractor trailers to the event, each displaying its latest offering in commercial HVAC.

But in an environment where the bottom drives many purchases, how can this event make sense? The answer to that question is found in ThermalNetics’ approach to the market place.

Rick Sutkiewicz knows that each customer represents a relationship. Before the customer invests in ThermalNetics, ThermalNetics invests in the customer, gaining trust, demonstrating expertise and innovation.

Sure this event was a ton of fun, but it was also money and time well spent. VIGILAIR reps at the event made important contacts and were able to reach out to valuable decision makers.

As I write this the sun is warm and more than 300 people are enjoying live music, a cold drink and Bar-B-Q. Not one contract was signed, but millions in business was secured - one relationship at a time. And if you can’t see the value in that, you’re not an innovator.

Check out more pictures from ThermalNetics' 2007 event by clicking on the image below:

ThermalNetics Open House

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Is Ebola Airborne?

World Health Organization (WHO) officials are rushing to the Democratic Republic of Congo, desperately trying to contain the spread of the Ebola virus. As of this writing, five people are known to have died from Ebola in the southern province of DR Congo, and the WHO says 166 more deaths since April may be linked to the virus.

Among the problems facing health care workers is the virus’ ability to remain asymptomatic for up to 21 days. Furthermore, researchers do not know why some people recover from Ebola hemorrhagic fever, while most do not. There is no standardize treatment for Ebola and researchers do not yet know the natural reservoir for the virus.

Is Ebola transmitted via the air? In primates the Ebola virus was transmitted through the air in a research facility in Reston, Virginia. Apparently the mutations that allowed the virus to easily transmit via the air also changed its effect on humans. Tests showed that four lab workers tested positive for Ebola Reston virus, but this strain of the virus caused only minor health problems (although all the monkeys in the Reston facility were destroyed to prevent the outbreak from spreading).

According to existing literature, Ebola does not spread through the air in natural settings, although it can be spread via aerosols in lab experiments. How the virus knows when it is in a lab, I’m not certain. Viruses rely on sugars and proteins that allow them to bind to cells they’d like to infect. Small changes, such as the mutation that permitted airborne transmission, probably changed the lethality for humans infected by Ebola Reston, even though it retained its virulence in monkeys.

There are claims, however, that airborne human to human transmission of Ebola occurred in 1976. Reports say that Mayinga N'Seka (seen as the patient in the image to the right), a nurse in Zaire may have contracted the virus via the air. Evidence is thin, and even if it was true, Nurse Mayinga did not infect any other humans before she died.

Ebola is a mysterious and deadly microorganism. We’ve come far in understanding this killer, but as with so many viruses, we are just one shift, drift or mutation away from a potential pandemic.

(This 1976 photograph shows two nurses standing in front of Kinshasa case #3 (Nurse Mayinga) who was treated and later died in Ngaliema Hospital, in Kinshasa, Zaïre - CDC/Dr. Lyle Conrad)