ROCHESTER, NY — As the newly elected president of the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES), Robb Isaacs has his work cut out for him.

At the organization’s 62nd annual conference held here recently, it was reported that RSES membership dropped by 5,000 over the past year, to about 21,800. Also noted was the fact that the fiscal year closed with a $1 million deficit (approximately $3 million in revenues vs. $4 million in expenses).

To make matters even more uncomfortable for Isaacs, the society is currently operating without a chief paid officer. Executive vice president Joe Ziemba resigned shortly before the conference, after less than a year in office.

Despite the difficult circumstances, Isaacs, who is scheduled to serve as RSES’s leader through October 2000, showed a calm exterior to the 17 directors on the board. “The past is done,” said the Springfield, IL contractor. “We have to move forward.”

However, he definitely was not sugar-coating the future. He said if a turnaround does not begin, “The [RSES] president three years from now will be liquidating the society.”

Membership drive

Regarding membership, Isaacs told his board that “we have some pluses that will not stop this [membership decline], but will slow it down.” He did not elaborate, but noted the large drop in membership accounted for a loss of $300,000 in dues.

“Also, when we lose members, we lose [the sale of] training manuals,” he said.

One means of membership turnaround, he suggested, is through RSES’s involvement with the Air Conditioning Excellence (ACE) program, offered through North American Technician Excellence (NATE). Isaacs said RSES participation should draw attention to the benefits of society membership.

He noted that RSES has produced a reference manual to be used in preparation for the NATE exam.

He reported on plans to improve services, including an update of the CD-ROM version of the society’s Service Applications Manual that will include the ability to download updated sections from the Internet.

Joining Isaacs on the six-member Executive Committee of the board of directors are Jack Hasick, Calgary, AB, Canada; Irvin Moeller, Wahpeton, ND; James Casey, Elmwood Park, NJ; Streeter Turner, Los Angeles, CA; and Loren Shuck, Lancaster, CA.

Message from ARI: Stick together

In his keynote address to conference attendees, Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration (ARI) president Ted Rees recommended that all trade associations work together to solve industry problems.

“I cannot be content with trying to provide today’s services that only benefit my members today,” said Rees. “Associations must be active players in a fast-changing world, where new partners and new ways of doing business are the keys to tomorrow’s success.”

Rees cited RSES’s use of ARI’s Industry Competency Exam (ICE) as part of RSES’s multi-tiered institute testing program. He used the conference to show ICE shoulder patches that recognize RSES and several other trade associations.

He called ICE “a new vehicle to reach entry-level technicians,” and stressed the importance of this in light of predictions that the hvacr industry will need to fill 220,000 new jobs by 2007.

“We find ourselves competing in a very tight labor market against other industries with huge appetites for manpower,” said Rees.

Another reason for cooperation among associations, he said, is to help stem the decline in hvacr votech school attendance, which has dropped 71% over a 10-year period. He urged RSES to utilize a number of ARI-produced recruitment materials, including its “Cool Careers” videotape.

“Together we can also work to develop a career web page, a career brochure, and many other initiatives,” added Rees.

In the area of promotion of hvacr to customers, Rees said ARI is offering RSES chapters a tape and booklet which document how air conditioning and refrigeration improve the quality of life.