Barb Checket-Hanks

Over the years the HVACR industry has undergone a number of transformations, from the technologies themselves to the modes of their delivery. But perhaps the most important changes are those that have involved the training and professionalism of the contractors, installers, and technicians who come in contact with homeowners and their equipment every day.

The industry has dealt with issues such as moonlighters, fly-by-nighters, and poor installations of then-new technologies (like the earliest heat pump installations) in a very consistent way: first by recognizing the problems, then by providing education to correct them. Sometimes standardization, certification, and legislation also were required.

Over the years,The NEWShas consistently reported on these changes within our constantly evolving industry - from the 1920s when “electric refrigeration” replaced iceboxes (we started as theElectric Refrigeration News), to the 1940s with its post-war housing and baby boom, into the 1960s and the rapid increase in residential air conditioning installations, and so on.

Our questions to you are: What were you doing? How did your professional development track with other issues in your community, or in the country? How old is your oldestNEWSissue?


We have been hearing for years about people who have saved their issues ofThe NEWSfor reference. In honor of our 85th anniversary next year, we would like to find the subscriber with the oldest one. And then we would like to give that person a prize.

Spread the word: We want to know the date of the oldest issue ofThe NEWSstacked in your office. Take a picture of that issue with your camera and send it to us. You may win a prize that will carry you into the next generation of publishing.

We would also like to hear about your company’s history and anniversaries; some of the information may be used in our 85th anniversary insert series next year. We also will be looking for our oldest subscriber, who will be the recipient of a very special prize.


We have been through a lot with our subscribers - from the hardships of WWII, to the energy crisis of the ’70s, to today’s “Great Recession,” and the various boom-and-bust cycles in between. We have seen partnerships among various industry sectors go from friendly to adversarial to friendly again.

We have been reporting on these trends since 1926, and we continue to do so. The way you readThe NEWSmay have changed, but the content continues to address your top concerns. Those have changed over time. Remember when “utility competition” was the top concern?

We have a lot of fun looking back in our old issues. During the 1940s, for instance, when victory gardens and home preservation were gaining popularity, home freezers and frozen food preservation were also increasing (slowly, though, due to the limited availability of certain metals needed for the war effort). Did you know that one of the earliest means of freezing food involved spraying a refrigerant directly onto the food? Yuck.

Then there was the early attempt at automotive air conditioning in the 1960s: You would go to a service station and while you filled your tank with gas, you would roll down a window so cold air could be blown into your car. Sure, it was another swing and a miss - but it’s fun to look back on it, if only to marvel at how far the industry has come, and how many other industries it has affected, like summer travel and tourism.

My dad used to jokingly call his and mom’s wedding anniversary, “your mother’s anniversary.” An anniversary generally means the celebration of some sort of commitment between multiple parties. Next year we want to celebrate the anniversary of our commitment to you, our subscribers and advertisers. Please share your stories and histories, memories, and triumphs. And tell us who has the oldest issue! It’ll be worth their while. Contact me at; 313-366-7093.

Publication date:11/08/2010