What's in an acronym? That question came to mind a few weeks ago, when I was at the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society's (RSES) annual conference in Atlanta, coverage of which will appear in an upcoming issue ofThe NEWS. Officials were pointing out that RSES was more than just a refrigeration association - that it provides training in a broad range of HVACR disciplines.

That got me to thinking about the ways our industry uses association and organization acronyms. RSES has been around since the 1930s, when refrigeration was the name of the game. The association really doesn't want to change such an identifiable name; it just wants folks to know that it is now more than its name.


Other associations have changed their names. Many in the industry may remember the Northamerican Heating & Airconditioning Wholesalers (NHAW). At one point in its history, it decided to incorporate "refrigeration" into the title, so it became NHRAW.

Then a few years ago, there was a consolidation with the Airconditioning and Refrigeration Wholesalers (ARW), which itself at one point was ARWI, to reflect its international nature. The new group took on a totally new name: Heating, Airconditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI).

Sometimes, we in the industry incorrectly use acronyms. Each winter the industry hosts a major trade show officially called the International Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigerating Exposition, but for some reason it is referred to as AHR Expo, with the "I" missing in action when it comes to the acronym.

(At this point, careful readers have noted a couple different spellings of "air conditioning," but that is another story. Various sectors of our industry have the word as one word, two words, or a hyphenated word.)

The AHR Expo is cosponsored by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI). The expo also has an honorary sponsor and 24 endorsing organizations. In this limited space I won't begin to try to list them all, but to be honest, many of us in the industry incorrectly call this winter expo the "ASHRAE Show" (as in, "Are you going to ASHRAE" or "See you at ASHRAE").

We all know what we are talking about, but we are not being very precise.


Finally, there is the IKK show that I go to each fall, and which is a major industry trade show in Germany.

IKK stands for International Fachmesse Kaelte, Klima, Lueftung. The German title translates into English as International Trade Fair Refrigeration, Air Conditioning, Ventilation, which, in English, doesn't match up with the acronym IKK at all.

(By the way, IKK - like ASHRAE, er, AHR - has a number of sponsoring organizations including the VDKF. I won't try to type that one out in German, but it translates to German Association of Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Contractors.)

Dozens of other associations and organizations have names and acronyms, which may have long or short histories, and that may or may not reflect exactly what the group does today. But the vibrant and active organizations and associations today play a valuable role in providing information and services to those of us who work in the industry.

Whether you are a service technician, contractor, wholesaler, engineer, or manufacturer, in sectors ranging from residential to industrial, there are more than a few organizations that you would benefit from being a part of - whether that means signing up as a member, attending meetings as a nonmember, or by being a member and attendee.

The NEWS' HVACR Directory and Source Guide issue, which comes out to subscribers the first week of each year, has a long list of such organizations and associations. A Google search could also point you in the right direction.

Don't try to navigate the complexity and changes in this industry alone. Support is available through trade associations and organizations. Take advantage of it.

Publication date: 11/06/2006