Bring on the Fight: AHR Expo Hosts Competition to Highlight Compression Fitting Systems

Manufacturers introduce new sizes of connections and expo attendees go head-to-head to find out who is faster
Bring on the Fight: AHR Expo Hosts Competition to Highlight Compression Fitting Systems
The announcer in the REHAU booth calls the action as Rick and Kenjiro Thomas participate in the company's compression fitting competition at the AHR Expo.

With a large photo of a boxer in the background Rick and Kenjiro Thomas went head-to-head Tuesday in the REHAU booth at the International Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigerating Exposition (AHR Expo) in Chicago.

They weren’t boxing each other though. Rather, they were trying to see who was the fastest at using the company’s EVERLOC+ compression-sleeve fitting system. The competitions have been taking place all week and are a popular event at the show this year.

Complete with a Vegas-style announcer calling the action — explaining how valuable the fitting system could be for contractors watching — the two competitors start with two 2-inch PEX pipes, a 1-inch-diameter segment, a T-connection and three compression sleeves.

As soon as the announcer rings the bell the two competitors start working at putting together the T-connections.

“It’s a fun way to get guys pitted against each other,” says Kevin Hale, account manager for REHAU. “Two guys in the same agency were doing the competition and they actually put money on it in addition to the gift card we were giving them. They brought some money out too to make it more fun for them. It’s a fun way to do it.”

Kenjiro easily defeated Rick in their bout on Tuesday and it’s almost certain he won’t let him forget it. Kenjiro serves as vice president of sales and operations for KenKo Co. in Aurora, Colorado, while Rick is the president of the company.

“What we’re showing here is a fitting system we launched last year at AHR in Las Vegas,” Hale says. “It’s an all polymer system, so there’s no metallic at all. Contractors love it because you can make it in any kind of weather. It could be Phoenix or it could be Salt Lake City, Utah. It doesn’t matter if it’s minus 10 degrees or 110 degrees, you can make this fitting regardless of temperature.”

Last year REHAU debuted its 3/8-inch to 1-inch connections. This year the company is highlighting its new 1-1/4-inch to 2-inch connections.

“It’s exactly the same installation every single time, so you don’t have to adjust for different weather, temperature or anything like that,” says Jonathan Bittenbender, director of engineering. “It’s the same process and same steps and training. For all sizes from 3/8-inch to 2-inch, so it’s very simple for training and understanding for the installers.”

Rick Thomas works on the 1-inch connection during the competition.

When the final bell rang, Kenjiro received a gift card from the company and he watched as Rick finished his connection.

“This is the second competition I’ve watched at the booth and they get into it,” says Gary Ross, of Indiana, who was attending the show and looking for new tools for his plumbing company. “You hear smack talking and all that, but it’s all in fun. It’s also a nice way to see what the tools are capable of doing.”

To see how the fittings are put together, check out this video on REHAU’s YouTube channel:


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