FORT WAYNE, Ind. — To say that the employees of WaterFurnace Intl. Inc. enjoy golf would be an immense understatement. Some there have been playing golf for decades, sometimes in evening league play, and sometimes in the dead of winter with brightly colored neon golf balls that play well in the snow. Twenty-five years ago, Carl Huber, vice president of corporate quality, WaterFurnace, became the chairman of the WFI Supplier Golf Outing, an event created to thank the company’s suppliers for their ongoing support. Though Huber’s golf handicap is reported to be increasing somewhat, his enthusiasm for the game remains, and the title of chairman has stuck.

Golfing for a Cause

WaterFurnace celebrated its 25th annual Supplier Golf Outing Sept. 5, at the Brookwood Golf Club, Fort Wayne, Ind. Huber opened the morning with his traditional dry wit and a report on fundraising for the Indiana USO. The prior evening, many golfers were on hand at Brookwood for dinner and the kickoff of the silent auction. For many years, the USO has been the recipient of funds raised at the Supplier Golf Outing and matching funds from WaterFurnace. Prior to tee off, $14,400 had already been raised, and, following the silent auction, a total of $19,700 was raised. WaterFurnace added additional funds to bring the grand total up to $25,000.

Probably best known for its entertainment tours featuring popular bands, comedians, authors, and actors, the USO hopes to make a difference for more than 2 million troops and their families by providing support on a massive scale. The funds are used at the more than 160 USO locations around the world, where nearly 9 million visitors last year were given some type of support. A nonprofit, congressionally chartered private organization, the USO relies on the generosity of individuals, organizations, and corporations to support its activities.

WaterFurnace began its support of the USO in 2007. The Indiana USO was one of only two USO locations in the world to receive a distinctive five-star rating in 2013 for its contributions to the men and women serving in the military.

Par for the Course

Huber started the morning with a video of the Blacksnakes 122nd Fighter Wing of the Indiana National Guard, reminding those present of the vital role played by the men and women of the guard. The guard, located across the road from the Brookwood golf course, traditionally provides extra manpower at the outing, offering Humvee rides and the occasional wing-tip upon a flyover. This year, a few lucky attendees were treated to rides in a restored Vietnam-era Huey helicopter.

Huber turned the program over to Tom Huntington, WFI president and CEO of WaterFurnace, who shared the latest news from within the company’s ranks and an economic geothermal outlook. Huntington shared that the company had just started manufacturing geothermal products under an agreement with another large HVAC brand. Huntington also told the group that, “42 percent of all geothermal units produced are commercial. We are building products in China for that commercial market, and, in addition, we are working on other traditional products requested by China.”

Huntington went on to say that 2014 projections for single-family and multifamily housing are on the rise, compared to numbers from 2013. “Total residential new construction was about 990,000 units in 2013. That total is expected to be about 1.18 million in 2014, according to a Wells Fargo forecast,” said Huntington.

Regarding general support of geothermal renewable products, Huntington said, “About a half-dozen utilities are offering thermal utility programs with on-bill financing to owners who prefer to use geothermal energy. In addition, six utilities are offering loop leasing programs, another two are pending, and many others offer loop financing.”

Geothermal loop costs are among the most common reasons that owners avoid geothermal installations. With more utility companies offering programs to help owners overcome this objection, the geothermal market is anticipated to grow exponentially.

Tim Shields, WaterFurnace chairman of the board, thanked the more than 200 golfers for their many years of support to not only the WaterFurnace company, but to the cause that the Supplier Golf Outing supports. He also mentioned that his 90-year-old father, Jim Shields, former chairman of the board and a hearty merchant marine of the World War II era, is in good health. “If he were here, he would certainly sing you a song and probably say something that would get us in trouble,” joked Shields.

Shields’ father, who was an early investor in WaterFurnace (Toronto Stock Exchange: WFI), was known as a very outspoken chairman and not one to mince words especially with regard to his patriotic persuasion.

The 2014 WaterFurnace Supplier Golf Outing will be held Sept. 11, 2014. For more information, contact Carl Huber, 260-479-3251.

Publication date: 12/30/2013 

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