National Politics Dominates Talk at AHRI Annual Meeting
What a Trump administration means to the HVACR industry
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — AHRI’s annual meeting occurred less than a week after Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. With that as a backdrop, there was much discussion during the event about what a Trump administration means to the HVACR industry and what people can expect in energy and environmental policies in the future.
At the time of the meeting, the manufacturing community was still trying to wrap its arms around the change in the political landscape, although AHRI had already reached out and began communicating with Trump’s transition team.
“I think there is a lot of uncertainty still on what this really means. But, the main thing this provides us is the opportunity to reset and redefine what our relationship is with the administration, the DOE, the EPA, and also Congress,” said AHRI president and CEO Steve Yurek. “As we look at the issues that have been affecting us over the last eight years and the pace of regulation, we see that we need to rebalance that process. Now, with this administration coming in, we will have that ability to rebalance and find out how to make that process better.”
A lot of the big issues that many anticipate Trump tackling at the beginning of his administration — immigration, Obamacare, etc. — don’t have a direct impact on the HVACR manufacturing community. However, Trump has expressed interest in looking at the regulatory structure, which certainly got the attention of AHRI.
“We need to take advantage of that and communicate our needs with the administration,” Yurek said.
One of the big items the industry wants to discuss with the incoming administration relates to the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA), a 1975 law the current Democratic administration was using very aggressively to help enact President Obama’s climate action plan. AHRI has been laying the groundwork the last two years to reform the EPCA.
“It was looking like we were potentially seeing the continuation of that structure with a democratic administration. That changed with the election,” Yurek said. “We now have the ability to make some changes, and it’s interesting how quickly the efficiency advocates recognized that there had been a significant shift. In the past, when we talked about updating this 40-year-old law, they said they were not interested in talking about it because the law was just fine as it was. Now, they are willing to talk about it. We need to go to Congress and change the law to reflect our needs today and not what we needed in the 1970s.”
AHRI will spend a lot of time educating those who are new to the administration and Congress. While some might think the industry does not want any regulations, that could not be farther from the truth. For example, there are pieces of EPCA that are vital to the HVACR industry.
“Repealing the law would send it back to the states, and that is not a good solution for our industry,” said Amy Shepherd, general counsel, AHRI. “By repealing the EPCA, we would lose the federal preemption, which is why we agreed to it in the first place. That would lead us to piecemeal regulations that we would then be involved in. It would also mean California could dictate what is happening around the world. We believe in state’s rights, but the landscape has changed. We need to educate the people coming in.”
The takeaway from the AHRI roundtable discussion was that the association believes the industry will be dealing with an administration that is more sympathetic to the needs of the business community.
“We need to expect the DOE will be more moderate. Rulemakings are going to continue, as the DOE is required by law to review rulemakings every six years. Perhaps the DOE will look at these rulemakings very differently,” said Karim Amrane, senior vice president, regulatory and international policy, AHRI. “I think the DOE will begin paying more attention to the impact regulations have on consumers and manufacturers. They need to review them but they do not need to make changes to the rules.”
In addition to the political talk, AHRI elected new officers and presented awards to industry leaders. AHRI’s new chairman is Chris Drew, executive vice president of Burnham Holdings Inc. Additionally, Chris Peel, president and COO of Rheem Mfg. Co., was named vice chairman; Ron Duncan, president of Magic Aire, was appointed treasurer; and Doug Young, president and COO of Lennox Intl. Inc., was named immediate past chairman.
The executive committee is now comprised of Dennis Appel, executive vice president of heat transfer solutions, Luvata; John Galyen, president of Danfoss North America; Nicholas Giuffre, president and CEO, Bradford White Corp.; Chris Nelson, president, North America HVAC, Carrier Corp.; Earle Pfefferkorn, president, Cleaver-Brooks; Dave Regnery, president, North America, climate solutions, Trane, an Ingersoll Rand brand; Rod Rushing, vice president and general manager, global products, Johnson Controls Inc., Brent Schroeder, president, air conditioning, Emerson; Mike Schwartz, CEO, Daikin Applied; Bill Steel, president and CEO, Bard Mfg. Co. Inc.; and Kevin Wheeler, president, North America, Europe, and India, A.O. Smith Corp.
The Richard C. Schulze Award, given for distinguished service and commitment to AHRI and the industry’s goals and objectives, was awarded to John Bade, Johnson Controls; Matthew Friedlander, RenewAire LLC; Galyen; Ron Passafaro, ECR Intl. Inc.; and Tom Troyanek, Trane.
AHRI also honored two individuals with Distinguished Service Awards, AHRI’s highest honor, which recognizes individuals who are leaders in the industry and who have made significant contributions throughout their careers.
AHRI honored Peter Alexander, senior vice president at Goodman Mfg. Co., who recently retired after 59 years in the HVACR and water heating industry.
AHRI also honored Bill Root, vice president and general manager of Laars Heating Systems Co., a Bradford White Corp. company. Root, who will shortly retire from the industry, has been active since 1986 in a variety of positions prior to joining Laars in 1998.
The four winners of the AHRI Chairman’s Challenge were also announced during the event. Throughout 2016, AHRI chairman Doug Young challenged members to host guided tours for elected officials at their plants and to conduct visits to schools with HVACR programs. Members competed in two categories: single-state and multi-state. Parker Hannifin Corp. won in the multi-state school category with a total of 177 visits. Daikin took home the award in the multi-state legislative category with 114 visits. For single-state companies, Bristol Compressors Intl. LLC won the legislative category with 28 visits while Beckett Corp. took the school category with 14 visits.
Publication date: 1/16/2017