In August, IAPMO and the Hydronics Industry Alliance – Commercial (HIA-C) presented the inaugural Les Nelson Achievement Award to the late leader of IAPMO’s Advanced Energy Systems’ widow and two children during a ceremony broadcast online from World Headquarters West in Ontario, California.

Hosted by IAPMO CEO GP Russ Chaney, the socially distanced event brought together HIA-C committee leaders and former IAPMO co-workers 
with Nelson’s wife, Christine, and their two children, Ian and Ariana. Nelson, who served as executive director of the Radiant Professionals Alliance and staff liaison to the HIA-C, died in May.

“Les personified professionalism, loyalty and respect for his colleagues,” Chaney said in his opening remarks. “Both staff members and industry subject matter experts; it didn’t matter. They were all given respect and admiration, and we’re going to miss that.”

Chaney then introduced Rick Bostian, HIA-C chairman and business development manager for WaterFurnace International, who joined the meeting via online software. Bostian explained leadership of the RPA approved the award in Nelson’s honor, intended to be awarded each year to a deserving honoree “who displays the leadership skills and expertise we all knew in Les.” Presented each year at the RPA annual meeting, the award is intended to recognize someone who has make outstanding achievements in the radiant and hydronics industry.

“Les contributed to this group of individuals becoming a professional committee,” Bostian said.

Mark Chaffee, former RPA chairman and vice president of marketing for Taco Comfort Solutions, also joined via remote connection. 

“Through this meeting and the folks who were involved with the solar industry, you get a real sense of how Les touched the industry, the incredible impact he had to move us forward, and the contributions to the advanced energy, clean energy, alternative energy … incredible impact that will continue into the future,” Chaffee said. “As a friend, as a leader and as a mentor — it’s never too late to have a mentor, have somebody reach out and make you better. To challenge you to do the right thing, think a little deeper, go ahead and make a bigger impact. Les did that. Les challenged us and he also led us, not by telling us what we should do, but by example. Through his kindness and passion, he brought us all along and got us working together to make a better and bigger impact than any of us could individually.”

Greg Cunniff, HIA-C chairman of Engineering and Software and manager of application engineering at Williams, connected remotely to speak of his desire to continue Nelson’s legacy of sharing knowledge.

“We spent a lot of time together on phone calls and meetings,” Cunniff said. “He and I worked closely on a number of different things at HIA-C; we had just completed a white paper on a subject near and dear to my heart and we were going to turn that into a technical article to publish in one of our journals. I’m going to continue that in honor of Les. He was just an incredible guy and I’m going to miss him.”

Former IAPMO coworkers Steve Lehtonen, John Hadi and Brenda Madonna also shared personal recollections about Nelson’s impact on their work and careers.

Chaney concluded the ceremony by presenting the engraved award to Christine.

“Thank you, everyone,” she said. “Thank you to the association for this. Les would be honored.”