Full Circle

Oct. 3, 2014
Bob Mader has been named editorial director of He is also editorial director of HPAC Engineering and editor-in-chief of Contractor Magazine.
I’m Bob Mader, and I’m the new Mike Weil. Actually, nobody could replace my predecessor and friend Mike Weil. I have a lot to live up to. Mike has gone on to become a vice president at National Comfort Institute, and Mike, his boss —NCI CEO Dominick Guarino — and NCI President Rob Falke, will continue to contribute to Contracting both in print and online.
I’m really coming full circle in taking over the top editorial job at Contracting and it shows how small the world is. I got my first job out of college working at what was then called Air Conditioning & Refrigeration Business, and my first boss was a man who became legendary in this business, the late, great Jeff Forker. Despite everything I thought I had learned in college, Jeff was the person who taught me how to write professionally. As I recall, the first feature story I wrote was about bad installations of flexible duct. I wrote it on a manual typewriter. Back then, the AHR Expo issue of Air Conditioning & Refrigeration Business ran over 200 pages. In those days, when you think about it, how else would our readers get news and product information? A monthly magazine was one of the few ways to find out what was going on in the industry and, if anything happened in the meantime, you’d have to wait another month to find out. In the late 1930s, my mother shoveled coal into an octopus gravity furnace. I think that’s one of the reasons why Americans put up with bad heating for so long — even if a furnace was only 50% efficient, an automatic gas furnace was better than shoveling coal. There was a time when we barely thought about efficiency. Who remembers terminal reheat systems? Condition all the air in a commercial building to 55F and then reheat it to the desired temperature with electric strip heaters. I joined the staff of Contractor Magazine in 1984, and I was hired because I was the one person who understood the HVAC industry. I covered the HVAC industry for nearly 17 years when and Contractor competed against each other. I covered the introduction of the Lennox Pulse Furnace and the Hydrotherm Pulse Boiler. A heating unit that operates on the same principle as a V-1 buzz bomb. What could go wrong? The pulse units did, however, condense through stainless steel heat exchangers, a game-changing concept, and condensing furnaces and condensing boilers eventually replaced the pulse units. I’m continually amazed at how much progress we’ve made through the years. All of the major manufacturers that I’ve talked to either at AHR Expo or at our Comfortech Show have a smart residential control. We’ve gone from shoveling coal to controlling our homes with our phones. Speaking of Comfortech — in addition to steering Contracting, I’ll also be taking over Mike’s job hosting the Comfortech Show. Comfortech will be held in September 2015 in St. Louis, and we’ll be bringing you the same great lineup of seminars, parties and the trade show that we’ve done every year since Comfortech began. I’m looking forward to working closely with our partners — the Service Roundtable, NCI, Women in HVACR, and Quality Service Contractors, as well as great sponsors like A.O. Smith, Emerson, Rheem/Ruud, Mitsubishi, Trane and York. It’s an event that will make you a better contractor. I’m going to need a lot of help here, so don’t hesitate to contact me to tell me what’s on your mind. You can call me at 312-840-8404 and my email is [email protected]. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.