The just-concluded AHR Expo is usually an event full of excitement and optimism. Whether the HVAC industry is suffering through a recession like in 2008-2009, or enjoying the blockbuster economy of the late 1990s and early 2000s, industry people are an upbeat lot, I’ve found. 

And that extends to hopes for the new presidential administration, at least from the handful of HVAC contractors and company representatives I’ve talked to or corresponded with since President Donald J. Trump’s election last November.

In contrast to some national polls that showed many Americans wary of the new president, an unscientific poll on after the election showed 63 percent of website visitors thought the new president would cut regulatory red tape. Industry groups such as the Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute have expressed similar hopes in public statements.

The administration is only a few days old, but as the president’s very active Twitter account demonstrated during and after the campaign, he’s not afraid to interject his opinions into trade issues, whether it’s where Carrier plans to build equipment or if Ford will be importing cars from Mexico for sale in the U.S.

The president has certainly set high expectations with a lot of voters. I’m skeptical that delivering results will be as easy as he makes it appear in 140-character messages usually posted overnight.

But maybe I’m wrong. A lot of voters have long said a successful business person was needed in the White House. What do you think the next four years will bring? 


We received word of two deaths in the HVAC and sheet metal industry recently. Stan Gelber, 89, the founder of Stan Gelber & Sons Inc., died Dec. 31, 2016. His son, Brian Gelber, said his father was a longtime Snips reader who learned sheet metal skills while working in a U.S. Navy yard in Brooklyn, New York, during World War II. He worked on the USS Missouri, a battleship that was the site of Japan’s surrender in 1945, ending the war.

In 1943, he founded the residential HVAC company with a $500 loan and an old Ford sedan, according to Brian Gelber. Stan Gelber used the money to purchase sheet metal forming machinery. The company found its services in demand as new homes were built after the war on New York’s Long Island. Today, the Uniondale, New York-based HVAC contractor has 25 service trucks and 43 employees.

Also passing away recently was Russell L. Sigler of Russell Sigler Inc., one of the largest HVAC equipment wholesalers in the world.

Sigler, 99, of Phoenix, died Jan. 7, 16 days before what would have been his 100th birthday. A World War II veteran, Sigler was born in Nowata, Oklahoma, to Jack and Mary Sigler. After graduating from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in engineering, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps, a predecessor to the Air Force. He served in the Pacific for the duration of the war, advancing to the rank of lieutenant colonel. 

After the war, he worked as an engineer at Carrier Corp., studying air conditioning in Syracuse, New York, under Willis Carrier. He left the HVAC manufacturer in 1950 to become a contractor. A short time later, he opened an HVAC distribution company in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Russell Sigler Inc. grew to 650 employees with branches in Nevada, California, Idaho, Texas, Oklahoma and Arizona.

Sigler is survived by his six children, eight grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by his parents; a brother, Jomax; and spouses Elaine and Dort. Services were private, but the company was to hold memorial events at all 30 Sigler branches Jan. 23.