HRAI marks 50th anniversary in Mexico

From left: HRAI president and CEO Sandy MacLeod, 2018-19 chair Dave Weishuhn and 2017-18 chair Bruce Passmore enjoying the Paradisus resort in Playa del Carmen.
October 22, 2018

Members of all three divisions of HRAI, as well as Refrigerant Management Canada (RMC) headed to the sun and sand of Mexico’s Playa del Carmen for the association’s 50th annual meeting and conference.

A focus on increasing membership numbers, the evolving political and regulatory landscapes, and a need to understand and work with emerging technologies were running themes in the reports from each of the divisional chairs.

”Refrigerants are going to become a critical topic in the years to come,” stated Manufacturers Division chair Dave McPherson as he discussed divisional activities and foci.

Wholesalers Division chair Rick Gosselin spoke about the digital transformation that is happening in the supply chain, where large online retailers are starting to target construction segments with the prospect of lower prices for products. He warned that price is only one part of the supply picture. ”In our industry, service is far more important.”

Incoming HRAI chair, and now past-chair of the Contractors Division, David Weishuhn, added that while things such as weather and commodity prices may be out of a contractor’s control, ”there are things we can do to improve our business futures.”

Included in those things is maintaining contact with politicians and regulatory bodies to support such concepts as prompt payment legislation, as well as helping to guide the codes, standards and regulations that impact construction projects.

”If you don’t have a seat at the table, you’re probably on the menu,” advised guest speaker and political lobbyist and commentator Huw Williams, president of Impact Public Affairs.

Another thing that might help protect a business is simply changing your computer password, added security specialist and keynote speaker Chris Mathers. ”There are a lot of bad people preying on nice people,” he said. ”The problem with nice people is that they assume everyone is nice. Bad people don’t think this way.”

With phishing attacks and attempts to breach security, including in this era of the Internet of Things, he advised that stronger passwords are a good way to keep criminals from hacking into your private systems and information, since most hackers will hit weaker passwords long before targeting longer, more random ones. ”It’s about being less attractive to a hacker than your neighbour.”

The conference also presented a number of opportunities to recognize retiring board members and executives, including recently retired HRAI president Warren Heeley, who handed over the shop keys to Sandy MacLeod this past summer after spending 36 years at the helm of the national organization.

”We are really unique,” stated Heeley as he thanked the association members and reflected on the past four decades. ”There are not many organizations that represent all three segments of the supply chain.”

In recognition of his commitment to environmental responsibility in the mechanical sector, including the RMC extended producer responsibility program, HRAI has created the Warren Heeley Environmental Achievement Award.

Next year’s conference will be held in Niagara Falls, Ont., in August.