Federal election too close to call, HRAI delegates hear


Outgoing chair David Weishuhn, left, passes the gavel to new chair Dennis Kozina.

By Leah Den Hartogh and Simon Blake

This outcome of this fall’s federal election is difficult to predict, remarked the keynote speaker at the opening event of this year’s annual Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada Annual Conference, held Aug. 25-27.

“If only people over 45 voted in this country, the Conservatives would win by a landslide,” remarked William Huw of Impact Public Affairs, Toronto. But that’s not the case, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s approval rating still very high, particularly among those under 45. And he is moving even further to the left, he added.

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer faces a more difficult road. “People don’t know who he is,” said Huw. But at the same time, he shouldn’t be underestimated. He wasn’t expected to win the Conservative leadership. He grew up in Ottawa but managed to win his seat in Parliament in Saskatchewan. And at 40 years old, he is about 10 years younger than Trudeau.

On Monday morning the 241 delegates and companions attending the conference were urged to grow in life and business regardless of stress by breakfast keynote speaker Dane Jensen, CEO of Performance Coaching, Toronto, who works with top-level athletes and business leaders to improve performance.

Online marketing

The conference featured a number of industry-specific sessions. Marketing is an area where many contractors have difficulties, particularly today with privacy restrictions. And then there’s that whole internet thing…

One session, “Connect with Contractors to Grow your Business,” largely looked at how online and media content marketing can improve and enhance a business. “Mobile-ready is key,” remarked Shelley Middlebrook of Fifth Story, “a leading content marketing solutions provider” based in Toronto. If a customer has an issue with a website or online platform, there is a good chance they will take their business elsewhere, she said.

From there, Middlebrook narrowed her focus to how different types of content marketing differentiate one business from another. It is important to “understand who your most valuable clients are – which will make it easier to develop useful content and allocate time and resources,” she added.

Later in the afternoon, Zoey Taylor, business development manager for Intrigue Media, Guelph, Ont., presented “Online Marketing Explained by a Millennial.” Taylor focused on the general forms of digital marketing.

“People hate to be sold to, but love to buy,” she said. She suggested that contractors focus on remarketing – where a company targets customers that have already viewed something on their website or showed interest in their product. From there, she moved onto the topic of Google search – organic (free) and paid. Both have their benefits, she added but said it is important not to focus just on one option. Organic Google searches are better for the long-term while paid advertising can bring immediate results.

Sprinkled throughout the day were more presentations. A panel was set up to discuss “Energizing the HVAC/R Commercial Market,” moderated by Martin Luymes, vice president of government and stakeholder relations at HRAI, with speakers Julie Vanderschot, manager, low carbon economy fund secretariat for Environment Canada and Climate Change, Kim Krieber, business advisor and channel services partner for Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), and Joe Meriano, energy solutions consultant, channel sales for Enbridge Gas.

Business adviser Wayne Vanwyck (The Achievement Centre International) urged contractors to start planning for retirement today, adding that it will take at least five years to prepare. A big part of that is ensuring that your business can run without you, he added. “You have a lot of ways to prepare, but it doesn’t happen overnight.”

And he suggested people work with an advisor or coach. “The coach can make the difference between thinking about it and getting it done.”

Changing refrigerant landscape

The need to address climate change is causing a shift to refrigerants that are more flammable than in the past, noted Helen Walter-Terrinoni, vice president of regulatory affairs for the Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI), at the Refrigerant Management Canada (RMC) Annual General Meeting.

Part of AHRI’s Safe Refrigerant Transition Task Force, she added that “there is a lot of work that we want to do to get ready.” She expects within the next six to seven years there will be a widespread shift to A2L refrigerants like R32. It won’t change overnight because most codes do not allow flammable refrigerants.

The task force has been trying to identify gaps in training and has been somewhat surprised to find none. But, she added, the material related to flammable refrigerants needs to be put into a more easily understandable format. She noted that trainers are anxious to get better material quickly.

There has also been considerable concern from fire officials over the switch to A2L refrigerants. However, A2L refrigerants are not easy to light – an open flame is required – and burning five pounds of refrigerant is equivalent to two pounds of dry wood, she noted. “It’s much lower than people in the fire service were thinking.”

The sheer number of refrigerants is becoming difficult for contractors and engineers to keep track of, added Steve Yurek, AHRI president and CEO, during a lunch presentation. “We used to have one to three refrigerants used across all applications. We are not going to have that luxury anymore.”

Codes and standards need to be created in the industry for the new refrigerants. “We have out work ahead of us once these codes start to be created,” said Yurek. Key standards to currently note in Canada are CSA B52, with product standards for ACs in CAN/CSA-C22.2 No. 60335-2-40 and product standards for refrigeration in CAN/CSA-C22.2 No. 60335-2-89. Yurek said the industry might see a shift in focus from mechanical to information technology, including controls and building operations. This will provide an “an opportunity for those who can adapt with the changes.”

Contractors Division meeting

At the HRAI Contractors Division general meeting, contractors discussed the annual report. Key objectives for the previous year included increasing membership, education/careers, government relations, culture and communication. Members discussed creating a new career committee to help more young people join the industry.

Luymes presented a past resolution on a door-knocking sales strategy, first brought forward in 2012. Members voted that HRAI should continue to work on this.

Following a jammed-packed day filled with sessions and presentations, attendees dressed up for the Chair’s Banquet and saw David Weishuhn, president of Blue Flame Heating and Air Conditioning, Toronto, pass the gavel to new chair, Dennis Kozina, director of sales at Emerson Climate Technologies, Brantford, Ont.

During breakfast on the final day, a number of people received awards. Attendees finished the conference with a tour and lunch at Jackson-Triggs Winery, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.

The 2020 HRAI conference will be held Aug. 23-25, 2020 at the Delta Victoria Hotel in Victoria, B.C. For more information, please visit www.hrai.ca.


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