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The National Air Duct Cleaners Association recently drew more than 500 people to a resort near Denver for its annual meeting and exposition.

The event, which included educational sessions, a membership meeting, an awards presentation and a chance for vendors to show off products and services, was held at the Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center in Aurora, Colorado, March 20-22.

Indoor air quality took center stage.

“IAQ was certainly the theme throughout the event, and as we move closer to a post-pandemic world, there is so much to reflect on for our industry,” said Jodi Araujo, the NADCA CEO, in an email.

One of the meeting’s best-rated technical sessions, Araujo said, looked at the indoor transmission of airborne diseases and how HVAC systems and filtration can help reduce contaminants.

Susan Frew.

SHOP TALK: Susan Frew, a business coach and the managing partner of a Denver-area HVAC and plumbing company, was the keynote speaker March 21 at the National Air Duct Cleaners Association annual meeting and exposition. (Courtesy of NADCA)

The conference began with a reception on the first evening, and Susan Frew, a business coach and the managing partner of Sunshine Home Services, an HVAC and plumbing company in the Denver area, kicked off the next morning with a keynote address entitled, “Rockstar Recruiting for a New Generation.”

Later, Charlie Cochrane, president of Cochrane Ventilation Inc., a commercial ventilation-cleaning and IAQ company in Wilmington, Massachusetts, was introduced as the newest NADCA board member. Cochrane has previously served on the board and was its president in 1996. Cochrane is also involved with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in evaluating duct-cleaning methods.

Rick MacDonald and Michael McDavid.

ON STAGE: Rick MacDonald, left, of Armstrong Duct, Vent, Hearth & Home, is presented his National Air Duct Cleaners Association hall-of-fame plaque by Michael McDavid, secretary of the NADCA board of directors, during the organization’s annual meeting and exposition in Aurora, Colorado. (Courtesy of NADCA)

In addition, four members were inducted into the NADCA hall of fame: Mike White of Clean Air Systems of LA Inc., in Shreveport, Louisiana; Michael Vinick of Duct & Vent Cleaning of America Inc., in Springfield, Massachusetts; Rick MacDonald of Armstrong Duct, Vent, Hearth & Home, in Manchester, New Hampshire; and Raffaele Caruso, the general secretary of NADCA’s partner organization in Italy, AIISA (Associazione Italiana Igienisti Sistemi Aeraulici).

Thirty-two NADCA member companies were honored with safety awards. The criteria for the awards were based on U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) regulations and recommendations.

“The safety awards recognize those companies that have gone above and beyond this commitment, ensuring safety for their employees and customers,” Araujo said in a press release.

Topics in a variety of educational sessions included creating growth opportunities, duct-cleaning as part of building restoration after a fire, getting into the commercial market, and airborne and surfaceborne diseases.

Araujo said a consensus among members seemed to be that the duct-cleaning industry is moving “at a lightning pace,” with business booming for many of them.

“At the end of 2019, no one would have ever dreamed that a pandemic was in our midst and would not only change our lives tremendously but would turn everyday conversation about indoor air quality (IAQ) on its head,” she said. “Sure, before the pandemic, there were discussions about IAQ and the effect of poor IAQ on health was always part of the conversation. But the pandemic made indoor air quality top-of-mind around the world and in every setting.”

Araujo said NADCA is developing partnerships with other trade associations and university researchers in a quest for evidence of the benefits of duct-cleaning.

Ancillary to the meeting and exposition were Air Systems Cleaning Specialist (ASCS) and Certified Ventilation Inspector (CVI) training opportunities and certification exams for those specialties. More than 100 people took part in those programs.

NADCA held its 2021 meeting and exposition in person last year, though the vendor exhibition was scrapped that year because of the pandemic. This year’s exhibition featured 10 first-time exhibitors and a total of 51 booths.

The organization also sponsors a fall technical conference; the 2020 technical conference was held virtually, but returned as an in-person event in 2021. (This year’s technical conference is in September in Atlantic City, New Jersey.)

“People really like to be together in person and crave that human interaction in their learning environment,” Araujo said. “Virtual meetings certainly have a place and bring a valuable learning perspective, but that one-on-one time with a speaker or exhibitor can’t be replaced.”

Organized in 1989, NADCA is a nonprofit that represents more than 1,400 companies involved in the inspection, cleaning, and restoration of HVAC systems.