Last year, prior to the annual AHR Expo, we sat down with Mark D’Agostino, the Vice President of Sales for the Hunter Fan Company’s Industrial Division. During our discussion, Mark shared his HVAC industry predictions for the coming year, and talked about how he anticipated HVAC devices becoming increasingly smart and connected during that time.
One year later, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to sit down with Mark again. While Hunter Industrial Fans wasn’t exhibiting at this year’s AHR event, they did have some exciting news that they announced right before the show that we wanted to discuss with him. We also were looking forward to being able to tell Mark he was right, and to see what he thought were the big trends in HVAC for 2020.
During this year’s discussion, we asked Mark about the strides that Hunter Industrial Fans has taken in making their equipment smarter and more connected. We also talked about the HVAC as a Service (HVACaaS) trend and if he anticipated it extending into the industrial fan market segment.
Here is what he had to say:
Modern Equipment Manufacturer (MEM): Last year when we spoke, you predicted that in 2019, HVAC equipment would get even more connected/integrated and that we would continue to see HVAC devices shift from individual components to systems. Is that a trend that we’ve seen in this past year? What has been driving that trend?
Mark D’Agostino: Hunter Industrial saw an increase in demand for integrated HVLS (high-volume, low-speed) fan controls in 2019. We also saw a 20 percent increase in sales with BMS (Building Management Systems) integration as a requirement. Although our controls always allowed for BMS integration, we just launched a full line of digital network controls that not only improve the overall user experience significantly, but allow for easy, plug-and-play installation with BMS integration.
MEM: What changes and new innovations has Hunter made in this past year to make its fans more connected/integrated with larger HVAC systems? How will this benefit users?
Mark D’Agostino: As I briefly mentioned, Hunter Industrial recently released new network-capable controls for our entire HVLS fan lines. Each Hunter Industrial controller is a highly intuitive touchscreen that incorporates a plug-and-play design and allows for a hassle-free installation.
We want our customers to be able to focus on their business—not fan maintenance or complicated control systems. Innovation is at the core of the Hunter Fan Company and advancing our products to enhance the customer’s experience is a top priority. These controllers showcase our team’s ability to engineer new ideas that simplify the use of our products.
MEM: In advance of the AHR Expo, we sat down with some of the show organizers, including the show manager, Mark Stevens. One of the hot topics that came up in that discussion was the evolution of HVAC as a Service (HVACaaS). Do you see these “as a Service” offerings becoming a big trend in the larger HVAC industry? What will it take for HVAC manufacturers to make this a reality?
Mark D’Agostino: I believe the demand has always been there, but I think manufacturers have been slow to acknowledge this. Customers want a solution. They often do not know what equipment (or services) will accomplish this solution—they just want the solution.
Manufacturers have traditionally sold a product that may provide a solution to the customer, but it does not always turn out to be the ideal solution. Many manufacturers are now widening their product offerings and offering additional services (installation, site reviews, technical drawings, customized control platforms, etc.) to provide a more specific “ideal state” solution.
MEM: Do you anticipate this “as a Service” trend making its way into the industrial fan market? Is that something that Hunter is contemplating? What would the benefits be to the company? What would the benefits be to the equipment owner?
Mark D’Agostino: I believe it has always been part of the HVLS world. As a relatively new entrant (just 20 years now) into the HVAC space, HVLS manufacturers have to provide not only turn-key project services but also easy control formats and an ever-widening product portfolio. This allows HVLS manufacturers to provide not just a solution, but the right solution for the customers.
To learn more about the exciting new products that Hunter Industrial Fans introduced prior to this year’s AHR Expo, click HERE. To learn more about the rise of HVACaaS and its impact on the HVAC industry, click HERE to download a complimentary copy of the eBook, “The HVAC as a Service Revolution.”