By Steve Mocarsky
WILKES-BARRE — Scott Ryan and his wife Ronnia plan to remodel their bathroom, so Friday night found them at the 109th Field Artillery Armory looking for ideas and advice.
There were no Pennsylvania National Guard soldiers offering their expertise in latrine makeovers, but more than 50 vendors packed the Builders & Remodelers Home Expo, there to inform the public of their services and products, everything from construction and window installation to retractable awnings and central air units.
The Ryans, of Old Forge, were there “to see what they have in lines of bathrooms — showers, cabinetry,” Scott Ryan said. “There were a couple prospects, some helpful information as far as contract people to get more ideas.”
Ryan was disappointed there wasn’t much on display in terms of actual bathroom fixtures, but he was happy for the chance to enter a drawing for a free Shop-Vac from Lowe’s Home Center.
George Whibley, a sales/project consultant with Lowe’s in Edwardsville, said the company wanted a presence at the expo “primarily to get the word out that Lowe’s installs” many of the items it sells, “and answer questions. It gives us an idea of what we need to do based on what the consumer is looking for,” he said.
Representatives of manufacturers of items sold at Lowe’s also manned the booth. Kris Bubel, a sales rep with Pella, said he was “amazed by the foot traffic” in just the first 90 minutes of the expo. He said most people he spoke with wanted to replace their windows with more energy-efficient models.
Joe Yenason, of Yenason Mechanical in Wilkes-Barre, agreed that folks are looking to improve energy efficiency in their homes. He told visitors to his booth about rebates that UGI and some appliance manufacturers are offering to folks who convert to gas heat or appliances. UGI’s rebates range from $250 on a clothes dryer to $1,455 on a furnace or boiler. The IRS offers a $500 tax credit, too.
Noting that senior citizens had free admission to the expo on Friday, Yenason said many were interested in his ductless heat pumps and cooling units because central air wasn’t available when their homes were built. Installing ductless units is “a heck of a lot cheaper and less disruptive (than central heat and air),” he said.
Janet Campis, office manager for the Building Industry Association of Northeastern Pennsylvania, which has sponsored the expo for more than 25 years, said the best thing about it is that “it serves not only as a home expo, but a community service.”
Proceeds from the wine tasting today and some food sales benefit Candy’s Place, the Center for Cancer Wellness, in Forty Fort. A military families food stand benefits that organization as well. And some non profit agencies also have booths at the expo, which continues today and Sunday.