Developing trust is critical, conference participants hear 


Attendees participated in numerous hydronic heating and business seminars.

By Leah Den Hartogh 

Technical expertise is important, but developing your customer’s trust is critical, 303 hydronic heating specialists heard at the opening breakfast of the 2019 Canadian Hydronics Conference. 

“The most important part of business is trust. Don’t worry too much about sales and marketing,” said keynote speaker Toby Shannan, chief support officer at Shopify, Ottawa, Ont., an international e-commerce company. The son of a contractor, Shannan connected each of his points back to the hydronics trade. “When things go wrong our customers are in deep (trouble),” he added. Instead of working in the here and now, business owners should start looking more towards long-term goals. “Do you make decisions that will stand the test of time,” he asked. 

That was just the beginning of 18 hydronic and business sessions at the event, along with hydronic heating only trade show, held at Ottawa Conference and Event Centre Sept. 24-25. 

Attendees came from across North America for the conference, organized by the Canadian Hydronics Council, a division of the Canadian Institute of Plumbing and Heating.

Seminar topics included things like integrating solar thermal with hydronic systems, radiant cooling, modulating condensing gas boilers, and snowmelt systems (see feature article on page 28 for more details on snowmelt systems). 

Watts’ Jim Erhardt brought equipment to demonstrate.

Do the math, contractors advised 

During a lively and technical presentation on variable speed pumps, David Holdorf of Taco Comfort Solutions.Cranston, Rhode Island, said it is important to do the math. “Professionals do the math. Amateurs wing it,” he warned 

A sense of humour is needed for all lines of work that a contractor might do. “How many times have you been asked by a homeowner to check out their furnace, and you walk downstairs to find a boiler,” asked HoldorfHomeowners don’t know much about what is going on down there. All they want is control, he added 

He also warned the group what might happen if the system is over-circulating/pumping – it can reduce the efficiency of the boiler. That being said, Holdorf added that the reason a contractor would want to choose a variable speed circulator is because it saves energy. The bells, whistles, buttons and lights are all just bonuses, he joked.  

Looking to the future 

A panel discussion looked at where the industry is going in the future. Right off the top, panellists offered adviceGive (customers) what they want; they will love you for it, said Murray Pound, proprietor of Generations Master Builder, Sarnia, Ont. Plumbing & HVAC’s own hydronic heating specialist, Roy Collver, president of OTBC Inc., Qualicum Beach, B.C. and Gord Cooke, president of Building Knowledge Canada, Cambridge, Ont., were also part of this panel discussion.  

Each looked at different aspects of the industry. Cooke explored the various changes in codes, talked about energy advisors, and discussed the building process. 

He expects that the industry is headed towards net-zero homes by around 2030. “If you think we are ahead, we are behind,” he said, noting that California is already on track to accomplish net-zero by 2020. This will create more opportunities to sell heat pumps as homes become more efficient. 

Collver attempted to “clear the fog.” He reports that by 2050 the government says Canada will be carbon neutral, but that’s not good enough, he addedWe should be aiming for 2030. The hydronics industry can contribute by maximizing efficiency, upgrading current systems, developing fossil fuel-free heat sources, and cooperating with building scientists. 

 Water quality critical

Contractors were able to speak directly to manufacturers at the hydronics only trade show.

A panel on water quality looked at a slew of different topics. “Water quality is the Achilles heel of the hydronic industry,” remarked Kirk Nagus, general manager, Axiom Industries, Saskatoon. Impurities can reduce the life of the system. 

Adam Hedden, account manager and Matthew Reid, outside sales, for Equipco Ltd.Vancouver, focused their presentation on just that. They looked at air separators, dirt separators, or combi air/dirt separators. “If we can put the right pieces in place, we can make sure that these systems last a lifetime,” explained Reid.  

At the end of the conference, Uponor’s Bill Hooper was presented with the CHC Award of Merit for demonstrating “an outstanding commitment to the advancement of the hydronics industry in Canada. It was a popular choice; a shocked Hooper received a standing ovation from the audience.    

The CHC will offer hydronic seminars Nov. 4-5 at the Coliseum of the Pacific National Exhibition in Vancouver as part of the CIPHEX West 2020 trade show. In 2021, the CHC plans to hold another stand-alone national hydronics conference. The location and details have yet to be announced.

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