As I See It

Radiant heating and cooling industry is well served — twice

Years ago when I covered an annual meeting of the Radiant Professional Alliance, I compared them to the Marines. They are the few, the proud. They are contractors dedicated to comfort, energy savings and installing radiant heating systems in the best way possible. It’s about people. These systems don’t install themselves. They are dependent on the hearts and minds and hands of radiant professionals.

I had the privilege of attending the first Air Conditioning Contractors of America Radiant & Hydronics Council meeting in mid-September in Providence, R.I. A week later I attended the annual meeting of the new RPA in Schaumburg, Ill. Both were great events. Beyond that, I’m not going to compare and contrast them because they both deserve our attention and support. Moreover, they attracted some of the same people.

Participating in both events were Ingrid Mattsson, senior manager - advertising and brand management at Uponor, CONTRACTOR columnist Dave Yates, Jan Andersson, general manager at Mr. PEX Systems Inc., and John Abularrage, Advanced Radiant Design Inc.

Abularrage is a perfect example of the collegiality that should exist between the two groups. One week he was in Providence serving on the advisory committee of the ACCA group and presenting a seminar on radiant heating and floor coverings. The next week he was at the RPA meeting winning a slew of System Showcase Awards.

“That’s a bridge I want to build,” John told me.

CONTRACTOR’s hydronic heating columnist Mark Eatherton, who chairs RPA’s education committee, said he has recruited a number of people active in the ACCA Radiant & Hydronic Council to also become active with RPA.

Mike Geagan, director of technical services for RPA, told me that RPA has reached out to the ACCA group and would be happy to work with them for the betterment of the industry. Geagan, by the way, is somebody that any radiant professional should know. He’s been a contractor, worked for a major boiler manufacturer, and now runs MBD Hydro Inc. and Midwest Boiler & Draft Inc. Whether you belong to one of the groups or both, Mike, who lists his education as Hard Knock U, is an invaluable radiant and hydronic resource.

ACCA Chairman of the Board Laura DiFilippo, DiFilippo Services, Paoli, Pa., emphasized to the group of approximately 120 attendees at the Providence event that ACCA is a contractor-led group. Approximately 15% of 4,000 ACCA member firms perform hydronic heating, making the Radiant & Hydronics Council the country’s largest radiant group DiFilippo said. If I’m biased in favor of anyone, I’m pro-contractor, so I have to love ACCA’s approach to things.

In welcoming attendees to the RPA event, Board of Directors Chairman Mark Chaffee of Taco Inc. spoke with optimism about the “new RPA,” which joined the International Association of Plumbing & Mechanical Officials earlier this year. The reformation of RPA is a move forward in support of the industry’s professionals and will help guide the future of the hydronic and radiant industry, he said. Chaffee emphasized that RPA is dedicated to the professional growth and development of everyone in the industry.

The combination of RPA with IAPMO is formidable. IAPMO brings tons of deep know-how, organization, and money. Its code and lobbying resources will do the industry a world of good.

For the radiant industry to prosper, we have to get away from the us-against-them philosophy that we’ve seen in the past, the rivalry between hydronics and forced air.

ACCA advocates a combination of both.

Dan Foley, Foley Mechanical, Lorton, Va., chairman of ACCA’s Hydronic & Radiant Council Advisory Committee, will put on a seminar at next February’s ACCA convention entitled, “Selling the Wet and Dry Side Together.” Brian Stack, Stack Heating in Avon, Ohio, will speak on “Integrating Hydronics into what has been a Predominantly Forced Air HVAC Business.”

“The new RPA — right now — is energized and equipped with the talent to chart a course of action,” Chaffee said. “Ready to engage and enlist all of you here, along with our fellow industry leaders, for the purpose of directing and guiding the future of the hydronic and radiant industry.”

Both RPA and ACCA will hold their respective radiant and hydronic events again in the fall of 2013. I plan to be at both of them.


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