Peter Powell

Many of my recent columns and blogs have been reflections on the past and the changes that have been going on in the industry.

I was wondering why such remembrances were coming into my mind so often in recent months. Then it dawned on me that come 2010 I will have been in the HVACR industry for 25 years. And wouldn’t you know it, both 1985 and 2010 have significance beyond milestones for me. It was 1985 that the Montreal Protocol first surfaced and 2010 will mark the end of the use of R-22 in new equipment. I certainly don’t make any connection between my arrival in the industry with the Montreal Protocol.

It is interesting to note that my favorite author, Mark Twain, was born the year of an appearance by Halley’s Comet. In fact, he wrote in 1909, “I came in with Halley’s comet in 1835. It’s coming again next year (1910), and I expect to go out with it. The Almighty has said no doubt, ‘Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together.’ ” Twain did indeed die in 1910.

I don’t necessarily plan to coincide my time in the industry with the Montreal Protocol’s arrival and the departure of R-22 in new equipment. And I’m certainly not as certain about my future as Mr. Twain was about his.


What 25 years has taught me most is how special the people in this industry have been to the industry and to me. And when we lose one of those special people, they are missed.

I was thinking about that when I learned of the passing of James “Bud” Healy who died in his home this past July 27 after a battle with cancer.

I met Bud shortly after I came into the industry at a NHRAW convention. He had been with NHRAW - now the Heating, Airconditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI) - since 1971, so he was already an industry veteran when I showed up. Of course, the first memory I had of Bud was his ringing of the bell to signal the end of session breaks and that it was time for convention goers to get back into their meetings.

Another thought that came to mind is how quickly you could become a friend of his and he of you. He was Bud from Day 1. I suspect that over the years when I quoted him in a story, I used James “Bud” Healy in first references. But I can never recall thinking of him as James. He was always Bud.

There were always a lot of concurrent activities going on a NHRAW/HARDI, but it seemed that the meetings I sat in on, usually also had Bud in their midst. That may have been a coincidence, or it may have been that Bud was capable of being in more than one place at a time. I’m suspecting the latter.

Bud had another distinction that might be of dubious merit. He was the first to ask me to moderate a panel discussion. I can’t remember when that was and I’ve done a number since. But that first one really pushed my comfort level. I had done such things before in my previous incarnation as a college public relations person.

But here I was in front of a lot of HVACR people who knew a lot more about the topic I was moderating than I did - and that includes the panelists and everybody in the audience. I had my cheat sheet of questions should the audience not have questions. But among the HARDI crowd that was hardly a problem. The questions came fast and frequent. The only skill I showed was the ability to wrap up the session on time.

Industry conferences and trade associations will continue - and I’ll continue to keep an eye on them and write about them for the foreseeable future. But I will miss Bud, his bell, and his willingness to entrust a moderator’s task to an industry rookie.

Publication date:09/14/2009