To say, "a good time was had by all," would be an understatement.One thousand radiant heating enthusiasts attended the RPA's Annual Radiant Heating Conference and Trade Show, held this year in Chicago, May 13-15. Everything from committee meetings to the presentation by Steve Thomas of "This Old House" was well attended, entertaining and informative.
Thursday morning started out with the usual registration traffic jams.
Over 200 people signed up for the RPA's "Radiant Basics" course, taught this year by Mark Eatherton. Mark walked the group through a full day of everything from elementary radiant concepts to sophisticated control strategies. He brings to the course his unique perspective as an experienced contractor, working with radiant systems on a daily basis. His anecdotal stories and hands on experiences help bring the subject matter into the real working world.
Committees met for most of the day on Thursday, planning for the future of the Radiant Panel Association. This is where new programs are born and the RPA receives direction from its membership. The sessions were open for anyone to attend and there was good participation and great ideas generated. The day's meetings were wrapped up in a General Membership Meeting where each committee reported to the membership on their progress. Nominations for RPA board members were also held and other RPA
member business was discussed.
Thursday ended with a reception around the RPA System Showcase pavilion where the finalist's projects of the System Showcase competition could be viewed on video screens as well as photo books.
Seminars and sessions began on Friday. There was a wide variety to choose from, including a four-hour program by Ellen Rohr on "Where Did The Money Go?" Ellen's spirited down-home presentation kept the class of about 70 involved and entertained while she guided them through the mysteries of small business finance and how to make money. Sessions on air elimination, electric basics, boilers, snow melting, and controls filled the day. There were also some great panel discussions on heating wood, hybrid systems and emerging technologies.
The trade show floor opened in Friday afternoon. With 90 exhibitors displaying just about everything that has anything to do with radiant heating, there was a lot to see and do. There is no other trade show that has a similar concentration and focus on radiant heating.
As the light jazz of Colby & Caruso filled the room, guests enjoyed a fine dinner buffet before the System Showcase Awards Ceremony. Steve Smith, editor of PM, was Master of Ceremonies. After a story of his entrance into the plumbing and heating magazine publishing business, he launched into a "Top 10 Reasons You Know You Are A Wethead," David Letterman style. When the laughing (and groaning) ceased, RPA Vice President Ken Barney, and Secretary, Mike Lahti, joined Steve on the stage to hand out the 1999 System Showcase awards. The Publisher's Choice Awards presented by PM followed these awards.
Saturday brought more seminars and panel discussions. John Siegenthaler presented a four-hour preview of the RPA's Advanced Controls Course, which is under development. Other seminars were given on pump sizing, cooling alternatives, selling comfort and condensing technology. Some very interesting panel discussions were presented on various types of tubing, the European radiant market and surface mounted panels. Almost 50 people took part in either presenting seminars or participating on a panel.
The day ended with another walk - through the Trade Show. It was a full three days and not enough time to see and do all that was available. By the end of the event people were already talking about the next conference in May 11-13, 2000 at Providence, R.I., in anticipation of even better things to come.