The end result would be the Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Institute (AHRI), a larger, combined group of manufacturers that would collectively wield greater leverage on Capitol Hill, and enhance U.S. positions in the global economy.
On Nov. 12 and 13, the respective boards voted to move forward and endorsed a supporting vote by the respective memberships, scheduled to be completed in the near future. With membership approvals, the combined organization could become official on Jan. 1, 2008.
At issue for the voting members: Will smaller manufacturing companies feel properly represented as small fish in an even bigger pond? In fact, it is anticipated that small companies will get even bigger bang for their buck. The biggest benefit many gain under the current structures is from the lobbying efforts in Washington, D.C. The new association will certainly increase its clout on the Hill.
ARI and GAMA members, please vote yes.
Contractors and distributors stand to benefit from this merger. A stronger HVACR industry at any level will impact the industry at all levels.
CHANGING OF THE GUARDEvery few decades the opportunity to make major changes in an established institution comes about. Mixing the politics and policies of cooling and heating (ARI and GAMA) may seem at first glance like a difficult task. The two have operated independently since their origins, both near the turn of the last century. Earnest discussions about merging the two groups have taken place in the past, but something always got in the way. This time all the stars and planets have been in near-perfect alignment, and only one minor point could stop this train on its tracks - less than a majority vote from the member companies.
Leadership of both ARI and GAMA believe this merger to be a good move for all members, and for the industry as a whole. It is a belief that is shared by many.
GET IN THE BOATAs this landmark change plays out, it is worth mentioning that there are still some manufacturing companies that do not participate in ARI or GAMA certification and standards programs. You may first think that foreign manufacturing firms are the holdouts, but the truth is not that simple. Some U.S. companies do not participate for various reasons, sometimes monetary in nature. However, these businesses should consider the impact of product certification as end users are increasing their reliance and insistence upon product consistency.
ARI recently revealed that it has seen a 30 percent increase in the number of contractors who are using a program whereby they can print certificates to verify air conditioning equipment energy-efficiency claims. The participating contractors claim that the ability to authenticate efficiency claims of 13 SEER and above has been a tremendous selling tool to use with homeowners and building owners.
During this important transition for the industry, whereby the greater good will be served, equipment and component manufacturers that sell product in the United States should join the proposed new organization. Frankly, it should be a requirement for conducting business. All manufacturing companies, members or not, have historically benefited from the work of both ARI and GAMA. It is time they got in the boat and brought a paddle.