Oil heating professionals mix it up in Hershey, Pa.

Oil heating professionals mix it up in Hershey, Pa.

HERSHEY, PA. — OESP (National Association of Oil & Energy Service Professionals) hosted its 60th Annual Convention and Trade Show here in eastern Pennsylvania in mid-May. The association’s convention theme of “Racing Towards Education” gave attendees the Triple Crown of education, new products and networking.

HERSHEY, PA. — OESP (National Association of Oil & Energy Service Professionals) hosted its 60th Annual Convention and Trade Show here in eastern Pennsylvania in mid-May. The association’s convention theme of “Racing Towards Education” gave attendees the Triple Crown of education, new products and networking.

Dan Vastyan and Eric Aune inspect an ES2 U.S Boiler.

The first day of the conference featured two charitable events. The Dave Nelsen Scholarship Golf Tournament was held at Deer Valley Golf Course. Established in 1999, the Dave Nelsen Scholarship Fund has awarded over $221,000 to students wishing to continue their education within the industry. At the Oil Heat Cares Care to Ride event, motorcyclists, cyclists and walkers raised $53,500 for oil-heating equipment replacements for people who are struggling to heat their homes. The top fundraisers were Ralph Adams (motorcycle division), Roger Marran (bicycle division and highest individual fundraiser), Team Connecticut (highest team fundraiser), and Judy Garber (walking division). Team Connecticut took home the Oil Heat Cares Cup.

The trade show is one of the major focuses of the convention. Dozens of exhibitors filled a ballroom at the Hershey Lodge, displaying the latest in oil heating and hydronic technology.

Field Controls showed a variety of ventilation and air purification products, including an aluminum core heat recovery ventilator that can replace stale air eight times per day, along with balancing the HVAC system and keeping the house pressure-neutral. The firm’s energy recovery ventilator uses a membrane technology to transfer both sensible and latent energy. The non-cellulose core is water washable. The firm also has a line of media air cleaners in MERV 8 or 11, UV air purifiers, and some unique combination systems, such as the Healthy Home Trio that packages a MERV 11 filter, UV sterilization and the PRO-Cell aluminum honeycomb cell that provides photo-reactive oxidation.

Field Controls also helps contractors sell these products with its Healthy Home System app for tablets. What the company is calling, “the ultimate selling system for the ultimate IAQ system,” is available as a free download on the Apple App Store or Google Play.

Peerless Boilers displayed its Series WB90 residential oil boiler, a cast iron boiler that operates just on the verge of condensing. It’s designed to condense in the flue. A Carlin burner fires at either high or low output to meet differing heat loads. It can be installed as either a direct vent or natural draft chimney vent. A terminal strip right in the front is clearly labeled, so field wiring is simplified. Standard equipment on the boiler includes a reset control with three pump outputs and low-water cutoff, a temperature reset control, a Taco circulator, drain valve, top cleanout, air elimination baffle and a drain tee. The boiler comes in two models with maximum output ratings of 126,000 or 182,000 Btuh.

Xylem showed a complete line of hydronic components with a focus on its energy saving products. The firm showed its Bell & Gossett Eco Circ smart circulators in both the Auto and Vario models. The Eco Circ Auto has a proportional pressure control, which automatically adjusts the pump performance continuously to the requirements of the heating system, based on the curve that is set on the adjustable dial. When the zone or thermostatic valve closes, the pump performance is reduced to save energy and to avoid velocity noise in the system. The Eco Circ Vario allows for step-less speed control to set the pump performance to meet individual system requirements. The Eco Circ Auto and Vario circulators were designed with ECM permanent magnet motor technology specifically for hydronic systems.

The key feature of B&G’s Ultra Setter pressure independent control valve is its combined flow setting and modulating control element. The maximum flow is set using the GPM dial and controlled inside the valve through a rotational flow setting motion. Once the maximum has been set, the branch flow rate is controlled through use of an external control actuator, which operates the linear control stroke. The valve’s internal differential pressure regulator maintains the desired flow rate as system pressures fluctuate.

Focus on education

OESP delivered on its mission of education with a busy schedule of classes from Monday to Wednesday. Tim Begoske of Field Controls led a Train-the-Trainer session on venting. New presenter Ray Wohlfarth discussed boiler room safety. Other course topics included improving profitability in service, understanding efficiencies, electrical consumption, zoning, schematics, mini splits, oil pumps, A/C evaluating and testing, ECM, wireless technology, gas heat, troubleshooting high-efficiency equipment, radiant heating, learning for trainers, heat gain and loss, a NORA tank update, and more. Attendees also had the chance to earn NATE and NORA certification with review courses followed by exams.

An apprentice wires a thermostat.

According to Al Breda, OESP National President, “The training and education topics that we offered this year reflect our recent name change and the needs of our changing industry. While we will never forget our strong past in the fuel oil industry, we must adapt and evolve with new challenges that we face in the HVAC and petroleum supply businesses. Taking advantage of the education that is offered by OESP is one way to stay out front.”

The challenges of operating a trade show and educational forum in a troubled economy haven’t escaped the attention of OESP’s Executive Director Judy Garber.  After reviewing several years of data, Garber got approval from her board of directors to reformulate the organization’s trade show and educational events. 

Beginning next year, the annual OESP show will split into two regional events, followed the next year by a return to Hershey. In 2014, OESP will host intensive, training and manufacturer product-focused road shows at Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut (May 12-13), and also in Gettysburg, Pa., (September 22-23) — locations OESP managers believe will suit both technicians and decision-makers. 

“Trade professionals and manufacturers alike told us they wanted a greater focus on education, a better ROI in terms of time and resources in a format that’s simpler and more practical,” said Garber. 

“The regional events next year will focus on outside, live-fire and hands-on demonstrations, giving manufacturers, reps and suppliers ample opportunity to interact personally with attendees,” continued Garber.  “When the show returns to Hershey in 2015, we anticipate that it will be much like this year’s event — but better and reenergized.”

“We’re pleased with their decision to re-shape the trade event and believe that it will be good for OESP and for attendees as well,” said Laars regional manager Douglas DeAngelis.

“We agree,” said Mark Chaffee, Taco’s marketing director.  “Over the past couple of years, the number of trade attendees to the OESP show — and to most shows in general — has dropped off.  We applaud Judy’s decision to reformulate the show to make it more accessible and more appealing to attendees.

“At Taco, we’ve responded similarly and in ways that improves our outreach among trade pros who appear to be more and more reluctant to commit time to trade show and manufacturer training events,” continued Chaffee as he pointed to a group of young show-goers clustered around Taco trainer John Barba.  At a display with several zone valves, Barba was demonstrating the low energy consumption of their Zone Sentry zone valve. 

“Judy’s goal, our goal and the goal of every manufacturer here on the show floor is to have substantive conversations with trade pros regarding products and technology, and to help them improve their craft through education and hands-on training,” added Chaffee.  “If the trade’s not embracing these opportunities, it forces many of us to be more creative in reaching out to them.

“That’s why we’ve built online programs like the FloPro Team, the FloPro Neighborhood and the FloPro University and have joined forces with manufacturer’s reps to conduct local education and support,” said Chaffee.  “We’re hopeful that OESP’s shift to smaller events every other year will improve trade participation.”

A number of the booths were crowded. In a center aisle of the show floor, groups of varying sizes buzzed around exhibits at the Bradford White, APR Supply, Taco and F.W. Webb booths. 

Groups of students mixed with seasoned trade pros. At the Watts Water Technologies booth,­ regional manager Rich McNally held the attention of a group of trade school students with an animated demonstration of radiant heat energy. 

Another visitor to the show was Gary White, heating service manager for Lebanon, Pa.-based Vincent R. Boltz Inc.  White was an attendee, but also volunteered as “road captain” for OESP’s Oil Heat Cares motorcycle fundraiser, a ride that took 24 bikers into the rural hills of Pennsylvania and all the way to the Yeungling Brewery — America’s oldest — for a tour, among other stops. 

Contractor magazine columnists Eric Aune and John Mesenbrink participated in the motorcycle fundraiser and for the next couple of days moved through the aisles with show attendees.

“We were very impressed with the student participation,” said Aune.  “It was great to see so many young people with an appetite to learn.”

“In an industry where trade shows are vying for attention, OESP is offering attendees real value.”

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