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AHRI Leadership Forum: Chris Peel's Opening Message Describes Accomplishments, Coming Changes

Nov. 13, 2018
Outgoing 2018 Chairman Chris Peel enumerated AHRI accomplishments, and described the organization's 'reinvention.' Bard's Bill Steel named 2019 AHRI Chairman.

November 12, 2018, Tucson, Ariz. — Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) kicked off the Strategic Sessions portion of its new annual event, the AHRI Leadership Forum, with an address by outgoing 2018 Chairman, Chris Peel, President and Chief Executive Officer, Rheem Manufacturing Company. During his remarks, Peel thanked guests and sponsors, described legislative and other advancements during 2018, and described the coming new structure of AHRI.

The AHRI Leadership Forum was designed to offer critical, strategic industry and association information in an interactive and dynamic setting. To initiate this new annual event, AHRI selected a dynamic venue, the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort, Tucson, Ariz. Representatives of AHRI member companies began to arrive at the resort on August 10, for various strategic planning meetings in advance of the public sessions. During the following three days, members participate in discussion forums, and leisure activities — golf, tennis, skeet shooting and historic tours.

Peel's remarks included a review of the rationale behind some major changes in the structure and activities of AHRI and its directors.

"One of our first priorities was to leverage the unique 'window of opportunity' we have with the current White House administration, to drive regulatory reform and common sense legislation," Peel said. "Our goals were: increase process transparency and alignment; promote industry growth and ultimately, drive regulatory predictability as we work towards our shared objective of environmental sustainability."

Favorable Tax News
Peel reported an early win for AHRI was the Trump Administration's successful legislation, which resulted in a dramatically lower corporate tax rate.

"And, after more than a decade of effort, we also succeeded in getting the bonus depreciation provision for commercial equipment included in the bill, although we are still waiting for some minor clarifications from the Department of Treasury before we can consider this complete."

EPCA Reform Affected by Mid-terms
Peel said a bill was introduced in the House to put forth reforms of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) that would advance AHRI goals for EPCA. However, more work will be needed to achieve satisfactory results, especially in light of the results of the November 6 mid-term election results.

Peel added that some success was attained in working the the Department of Energy to reform and codify its rulemaking processes, particularly with respect to its Process Improvement Rule, which DOE uses to implement appliance efficiency standards.

"We are optimistic that the Office of Management and Budget will approve that rule soon, allowing DOE to issue it by the end of this year," he said.

Still Keen on Kigali
Peel's remarks included mention of the hoped-for ratification of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, which would bring about an orderly global phasedown of HFC (hydrofluroucarbon) refrigerants.

"We are still actively working with the Administration to get it submitted to the Senate for review," Peel said. "We will continue to push this issue, which has become even more urgent since several states have moved on their own to regulate HFCs." Comments from industry are welcome, he said.

"I reiterate my challenge to all of you, to establish and build relationships with your elected representatives to help bring about the changes we seek, both in Washington and our home states."

Workforce Development
Peel reported progress on workforce development through strategic partnerships with military veterans organizations. That progress includes productive discussions with the Association of the U.S. Army and the Navy League, about how the groups can best work together to place returning veterans into jobs in the HVACR industry, in manufacturing facilities, contracting businesses and distributorships.

Peel said a positive development is the relationship established with Fort Lee in Virginia, by John Lanier, Chief Operating Officer of both AHRI and North American Technician Excellence (NATE).

"John and the NATE team have visited Fort Lee on a number of occasions, to discuss the merits of careers in our industry with active duty military personnel," Peel said, and he urged attendees to establish relationships with local military installations, chambers of commerce and employment agencies, in addition to including skilled and hardworking veterans in their individual recruiting efforts.

'Re-inventing' AHRI
Peel then reported on progress being made to reshape AHRI, so that it is an organization better suited to meet the challenges in the next decade and beyond, in light of the rapid evolution taking place in the HVACR industry and the far-reaching and changing business landscape.

To reassess AHRI's readiness, Peel said, AHRI commissioned a working group of senior executives from member companies, under the leadership of John Galyen, president, Danfoss North America.

"This group was tasked with objectively challenging AHRI's operating model and making appropriate recommendations that would:

  • ensure that AHRI is well-positioned to represent the industry now, and into  the future;
  • meet the emerging needs of all members, in a dynamic regulatory and political landscape;
  • make it easier and more effective for all members to engage and participate in the association;
  • make the most effective use of members' time.

 Peel said the AHRI Executive Committee and Board of Directors have endorsed the recommendations of Galyen's committee, the "Re-Invent" working group, for the good of the members, the association and the industry.

Details about the reinvention are to be forthcoming, but Peel said the new AHRI structure will create opportunities for members to be actively engaged in the strategic direction of  the HVACR industry, network more effectively with peers, and ensure that there is proper linkage between the actions of the association and the needs of the markets members serve.

 These changes will not change the importance of the work engineers do for AHRI. "The objective is to make more effective use of your time, not diminish your contributions," Peel promised.

"As you work through these changes, be mindful that you are helping to create a stronger and more sustainable industry association that will more effectively support the membership for many years to come."

New Chairman: Bill Steel
Peel announced that the AHRI Board of Directors had selected Bill Steel, president and CEO of Bard Manufacturing Co., to serve as AHRI Chairman for 2019.

"Bill Steel was an easy choice. He has served as a member of the Executive Committee, the Board of Directors, and the Budget & Investment, Nominating, Compensation, Strategic Planning, International, Government Affairs, Marketing Communications and Events Committees," Peel said.

Additionally, Steel has been active in the Unitary Small Equipment, ERV, and Applied Packaged Systems Sections, and the Single Packaged Vertical Units Subsection.

Watch for additional reports from the AHRI Leadership Forum.