Editor's Note: This is the continuation of last month's article, an interview with the new executive director of the RPA, Ted Lowe.
Question: So the RPA organization is a 501C-3 corporation, correct? What are the limiting parameters of a 501C-3 corporation?
Answer: It is my understanding that as a 501C-3 corporation, we are an educational organization, and we are not allowed to directly lobby for any legislative changes.
Q: So you are allowed to lobby indirectly for changes, but not directly, correct?
A: Yes, that is my understanding. As long as you are not directly lobbying or making political campaign contributions to a particular candidate, then you can be considered an educational organization, and with that you are allowed to educate the legislators. The other key difference from a membership point of view is, that the 501C-3 status as an educational foundation, the dues you pay to us are tax deductible. If we were a 501C-6, you would still be able to expense your membership dues, but not as a tax deduction.
Q: So now that you are in the driver's seat as it pertains to your executive director's position, what are your visions for the future as it pertains to education?
A: My vision for the future is to expand the program, both as it pertains to education at the annual conferences as well as increasing the use of our "on line" training facilities, particularly the online features, because I think that is where education is headed so that the contractors can take advantage of these learning opportunities at their convenience, from the privacy of their office, or the place of their choosing. I see fewer and fewer people dedicating a whole day of their time for the purposes of increasing their education. Not that we won’t continue to offer the live courses, but we want to make it more convenient for the contractors to learn. Our goal is to offer a wider range of things to learn in a more convenient format, both for our membership base, as well as the public at large. The "insiders" know that we are about more than our name implies, and have been for quite some time. It's not just about radiant panels any more. It's about IAQ, cooling, radiant comfort, high-efficiency systems and more. But the people who are the outsiders have no way of really knowing that, and I think the organization needs to expand from not only the branding point of view, but also in their course offerings.
Q: What are your plans as executive director as it pertains to promoting the organization?
A: I think that organization promotion is going to involve the organization rebrand to reflect our expanded focus to really emphasize the fact that an RPA member, or whatever we become, is more than just a radiant mechanic. He or she is a comfort professional, and as such, our membership needs to be educated and prepared to dispense advice on a wide range of topics pertaining to the "built" environment, with subjects like indoor air quality, for instance. When is it appropriate to talk about what kind of air conditioning, and what is the best source of heat for the application, and I am sure you've experienced this as well as I have, as it pertains to radiant heat, such as where it should be installed, and does it have to be installed every where. At present, with radiant, it is thought to be an all or nothing proposition, and nothing could be further from the truth, so having said that I think it is appropriate to advise a client or potential customer what’s appropriate for a given space.
Q: And as residences get tighter and tighter with lower loads per square foot, it becomes less important to have one lineal foot of tube per square foot of floor space, and more important to focus on the delivery of "Radiant Comfort" regardless of whether the warmth is being emitted from a wall, floor, ceiling or windows?
A: Yes, I think as buildings get tighter and tighter that there are a lot of different choices that are appropriate as well as necessary. And I think that to a large degree, that is what we want to be able to talk knowledgeably about, that being, what the "appropriate" technologies are.
Q: Very good, I had a note to myself here to ask you about a contest to rename and rebrand the organization. What are your plans for that and when do you anticipate this change taking place?
A: As soon as we have a real good sense of direction, and we are just kind of getting that together now, we do want to solicit suggestion and if somebody were to come up with a good recommendation, we will reward that with something, possibly a Gold Membership. So people should start thinking about that now so that when we formally announce it, they will be prepared.
Tune in next month as we continue our interview with Ted Lowe, executive director of the Radiant Panel Association. Check out the association at: www.radiantpanelsassociation.org. While you are there, check out the many offerings in print form, CD and online training sessions offered.
Mark Eatherton is a Denver-based hydronics contractor. He can be reached via e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 303-936-7606.
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