Ask those who work on refrigeration equipment to list their top concerns, and finding qualified technicians and dealing with new refrigerants are sure to take a couple of digits on one hand.

Refrigeration technology is a different animal than air conditioning, and there are many more refrigerants to deal with on the refrigeration side than with A/C. Translate that to the supermarket sector, and the complexity is notched up even more.

The upcoming Food Marketing Institute (FMI) Energy and Technical Services Conference, scheduled to take place Sept. 18-21 in Montreal, will explore those topics among a wide range of presentations for anyone who is involved with supermarket equipment.

Technician Search

The shortage of skilled technicians is certainly no secret. The U. S. Department of Labor projects that the HVACR industry will need 20,000 new technicians a year through 2020. For many businesses, successfully hiring and retaining skilled technicians is essential to their survival. Jerry Meyer, manager of Hussmann Learning Solutions/Ingersoll-Rand Climate Control Technical Learning Center, will ex-plain strategies to help companies recruit, train, and retain employees in a presentation titled "Is Technician Training A Lost Art?"

In an interview with the The News earlier this summer, Meyer noted that Hussmann is expecting to hire 200 new technicians over the next year to join its current technician force of 1,600.

"Ingersoll-Rand Climate Control Technologies [Hussmann and Thermo King] employs a full-time technician recruiter," said Meyer.

"Our recruiter aggressively seeks out both entry-level and experienced refrigeration technicians by attending technical school and military outplacement fairs, searching for qualified candidates online, and employing a variety of other methods to attract the very best candidates for our Hussmann branches and Thermo King dealers."

Meyer noted that a good training program is an important part of both hiring and retaining good technicians. "We have three levels of technician training and certification, and a series of courses in our Learning Center that develop our technicians and recognize them for their knowledge and accomplishments," he said. "It's so much easier to attract and retain the best technicians when you can offer them a career path that includes training and certification."


According to Warren Beeton, Copeland vice president of engineering - refrigeration, the refrigerant issue has to be looked at from a global perspective with an awareness of the range of uses for various refrigerants.

He noted his talk on "Future Trends in Refrigerants" at the FMI conference would include an update on regulations worldwide, especially those in Europe and the United States.

He also said attention would be given to retrofit issues and research regarding the use of HFC refrigerants with mineral oils.

Also to be discussed, he said is the potential for CO2 as a refrigeration refrigerant and the potential for R-410A - initially introduced as an alternative to R-22 in air conditioning - to be used in refrigeration equipment.

For more information on the FMI conference, contact Aileen Dullaghan Munster at For registration information, contact Elizabeth Newton at 202-220-0711.

Publication date: 08/01/2005