In the depths of summer, my thoughts go back to this past March, when a seminar on air conditioning and global warming was being held in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

The temperature outside the hotel meeting room was about -10 degrees F. At the time neither of the seminar topics seemed urgent, but more than 50 service technicians spent eight hours attending on a Saturday, after a week in which many of them were extremely busy with heating-related work. The fellow sitting next to me had started a heating call at 10:15 the night before.

But the session had a sense of urgency. With the phaseout of HCFC-22 underway, HFC-410A was being promoted among manufacturers and others as the refrigerant of choice to replace 22 for the long term. R-410A also figures into the global warming issue on a worldwide basis. (See story on the seminar itself in the June 2 News.)

Despite all the fuss over R-410A, Winnipeg contractor and RSES regional director Brian Baker and others were concerned over what they perceived as a lack of training being offered about the refrigerant — so they decided to do something about it well in advance of the cooling season. The planners first got informal feedback on the idea for a day-long seminar. Then RSES Winnipeg Chapter members took part in a three-hour session to fine-tune the idea.

Then the promotions started, including faxes and e-mails to more than 500 addressees. Supply houses and manufacturers were encouraged to disperse the information through their mailing lists. The planners also tied their efforts into the recent publication of the 100-page book Universal R-410A Safety and Training, published by ESCO Press. Speakers from the local vocational school Red River College, as well as from Trane, were asked to gear their presentations to the general outline of the book. This allowed the promoters to provide a detailed listing of topics to be covered at the seminar.

Those involved in the planning knew that a few flyers at supply houses would not be enough, so reminder announcements went out on a regular basis.

The planners were hoping for about 30 attendees. At the close of registration, some 60 had signed up.

Those who registered were sent e-mail reminders as the day neared. Phone calls were made in the final days. Some last-minute scheduling conflicts and the sub-zero weather caused some cancellations, but 50 were on hand for the seminar, including two who had driven four hours to attend.

There are several points that any group wanting to provide education should consider:

  • The planners decided early on to make a go of it regardless of the turnout. There was no minimum attendance required.

  • There was an aggressive and steady marketing campaign. Planners avoided the “If you build it, they will come” idea. The attitude in Winnipeg was, “If you promote, promote, and promote it, hopefully they will come.”

    The chapter planners can look back and know they did the right thing.

    Peter Powell is refrigeration editor. He can be reached at 847-622-7260, 847-622-7266 (fax), or

    Publication date: 07/07/2003