MINNEAPOLIS - It was appropriately titled "The Last Waltz." Five meetings since the first one was held in November 2002 in Marlborough, Mass., the organizer decided to make Wetstock VI the final chapter in a series of meetings designed to promote camaraderie and education among hydronic contractors and employees.

Dan Holohan, noted author and founder of HeatingHelp.com, along with 105 other registered guests, lowered the curtain on his Wetstock meetings in early June at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport Hilton.

The one-day meeting featured roundtable discussions, product demonstrations, a silent auction, meals, and refreshments. The meeting also coincided with a two-day open house and seminar at Uponor Wirsbo, manufacturer of radiant heating components, in nearby Apple Valley.

Holohan set up tables with a number of suggested topics, including radiant heating, solar heating, employee hiring, advertising/marketing, and radiant cooling. During the meeting, a silent auction and 50/50 ticket raffle raised $4,200 for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. The raffle winner, Tom Simensen, donated his $860 right back to the charity.

Simensen "bought" a Wetstock sign with his donation and asked all attendees to sign it - a souvenir from the Last Waltz. "People get no better than these folks," Holohan said.


Contractors gathered around to discuss some of the ways they advertise or market their businesses. Dave Slife, owner of Slife Heating & Cooling Inc. of Lakewood, Ohio, said his best advertising medium is church bulletins. Slife suggested that contractors contact local churches and offer to pay for bulletin printing costs in exchange for an ad.

Slife also sponsors several baseball leagues in his community. He said he started out by sponsoring one team but the cost of sponsoring an entire league ($1,000) was so reasonable he decided to sponsor the league, which grew into sponsorship of more leagues later on. "It's name recognition in the community," he said.

Other ideas included:

  • Movie theater ads (before previews).

  • Newsletters.

  • Radio spots.

  • Home shows.

  • Web site links.

  • Customer referral programs.

    Uponor Wirsbo’s Tom Doran hosted a discussion on radiant cooling at Wetstock VI, which founder Dan Holohan said would be the final session.

    Radiant Cooling

    Tim Doran of Uponor Wirsbo talked about the advantages of radiant cooling in commercial applications. Although radiant cooling is an oxymoron, Doran pointed out that the principles of radiant heating are similar to radiant cooling despite the obvious differences.

    Doran said radiant cooling is effective when cooling panels or tubing is installed in the ceiling, allowing the heavier cool air to move downward.

    "If the location has more cooling days than heating days, I'd put radiant cooling in the ceiling," he said.

    He cited the new airport in Bangkok, Thailand, as a good example of how radiant cooling works (www.uponor.com/businesses/businesses_7_r.html?&Id=1074688732.html).

    Doran added there is a significant energy cost savings in a large commercial building, but not in residential buildings.

    "Residential is a tougher nut to crack unless the customer has a 20,000-square-foot starter castle," he joked. "The energy savings-to-payback ratio is much less significant in a residential building."

    He also said that the "human factor" in residential buildings is a big concern, too. "Windows and doors left open have a big impact on smaller buildings," Doran said.

    The need to control humidity and to supplement the radiant cooling equipment with a forced air system was discussed. But Doran said that a smaller forced air system means more energy savings, too.

    "The size of the HVAC system can be reduced significantly - and that is what it is all about," he stated.

    Product displays and demonstrations were part of the two-day Uponor Wirsbo “Contractor Appreciation Days.”

    Sidebar: Uponor Wirsbo Hosts Two-Day Event

    APPLE VALLEY, Minn. - Uponor Wirsbo, manufacturer of radiant heating components, recently hosted a two-day educational program designed to show its dealers the many ways to market radiant heating. The first ever "Contractor Appreciation Days" was open to attendees of Wetstock VI in nearby Minneapolis.

    Almost 200 contractors visited Uponor Wirsbo's Apple Valley, Minn. headquarters. On Thursday, June 2, contractors attended a sales and marketing class conducted by Wirsbo training manager John Barba. On Friday, June 3, they visited Wirsbo's headquarters and factory, and were treated to a variety of different activities, including a casino, trade show, factory tours, and silent auction.

    Over 50 Wirsbo employees helped host the event.

    "Our contractors are such a valuable part of our business, and this event was a great way to let them know how important they are to us," said Jim Bjork, president of Uponor North America. "It was a nice opportunity to be their host for a day, and give them a chance to see our facility and meet the Uponor Wirsbo employees."

    The two-day event garnered favorable reviews from two Wetstock VI attendees. "Wirsbo appreciates their customers like no other in the industry," said Paul Pollets, of Advanced Radiant Technology, Seattle, Wash. "Their products, training, and customer support are unsurpassed. Wirsbo also makes sure that everyone has a good time, which makes each event a must do!"

    Dan Foley of Foley Mechanical Inc., Alexandria, Va., added, "It was nice to get back to Minneapolis and see my friends at Wirsbo. Contractor Appreciation Day was a great way to let us contractors know that Wirsbo values and appreciates our business. It also gave us a chance to see the latest products, tools, and controls in a relaxed atmosphere with plenty to eat and drink!

    "I always enjoy meeting and talking with contractors around the country to find out how they resolve problems and issues I run into on a daily basis. The best part was catching up with my Wirsbo friends and my contractor friends and enjoying a relaxing couple of days away from the office."

    - John R. Hall

    For more information on Uponor Wirsbo products, visit www.wirsbo.com.

    Publication date: 06/20/2005