It actually was a fairly easy story to do, because through much of that decade there was a single theme. Our industry — as well as the rest of the nation — had a single-minded purpose, that of winning a war.
One aspect was especially striking. That was the need for qualified refrigeration and air conditioning technicians. Yes, that’s a need today, but imagine how critical it was during the first half of the 1940s.
Those skills taught under fire were put to good use during the post-war building boom. In fact, many of those who learned their air conditioning and refrigeration skills aboard troopships or on remote airfields or in war production factories remained in the industry for 40 or more years.
Then came the 1980s. Those war veterans were in their 60s and starting to retire. Some handed down their skills to the next generation, but apparently there weren’t enough Baby Boomers interested in the industry, because cries about qualified technicians were sounding loud in the 1980s.
Compounding that was the chaos of the 1980s, caused by the CFC issue and a wave of new EPA regulations. Technicians in the field were suddenly being asked to undergo new training and certification. More than a few technicians wanted to bail out of a “regulated industry,” and a wave of potential new techs was turned off by the obvious confusion.
It was a double whammy: WWII-trained techs retiring and the next generation not sure what they were getting into.
We are still sorting that out two decades later.
Powell is refrigeration editor. He can be reached at 847-622-7260; 847-622-7266 (fax); or PowellBNP@aol.com (e-mail).
Publication date: 04/02/2001