As the snowiest December in history descended on little Kimberly, Wis., the hydronics team at Midwest wholesaler Design Air wanted to do something special for their loyal customers.

So when Crown Boilers announced a brand new lineup of boilers for 2001, the team at Design Air suggested the North American premier be staged right there in Kimberly: population 5,000, 20 miles south of the home of the Green Bay Packers and a long way from Crown's home in Philadelphia.

Crown Boiler Vice President Yale Steingard agreed, as long as the event could be turned into something truly memorable. He was really proud of these new boilers, you see.

What if we got Dan Holohan to headline the festivities? After a little telephone tag, Dan called back to say, "Yes, that date fits into my schedule. I'm planning to drive to the Midwest anyway to do seminars in Chicago and Detroit. I'm looking forward into turning you Cheeseheads into Wetheads!"

An innovative schedule was devised that combined technical and marketing information on Crown products with two Dan Holohan seminars, a trade show by "blue chip" hydronics suppliers Argo Industries, Heatway, Taco, and HeatLink, as well as a fundraiser for the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation.

The date would be Jan. 22. How deep would the snow be by then? Would Dan make it driving from Long Island? Would the Crown Boiler folks ever make it back to their loved ones in Philadelphia?

As we now know, it only snowed about an inch during the entire month of January. The roads were dry. The skies were sunny. The contractor response was gratifying. About 220 heating and cooling contractors from throughout Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula turned up and, as Dan soon found out, they were already professional Wetheads.

The sparkling new convention center known as Liberty Hall was rimmed with professional-looking booths displaying the latest in hydronics technology and tools, as well as some intriguing-looking shapes covered by white sheets.

The event began with Dan presenting "The ABCs of the New Hydronics" to a packed house. Showing slides of creative hydronics installations gathered during his worldwide travels, Dan demonstrated the breadth of this great industry. There was lots of good humor on display as the crowd quickly warmed to this man who they had formerly known only through his writings.

The folks from Crown were next. As National Sales Manager Lee Ensminger and Chief Engineer Paul Sohler pulled the shrouds from one new boiler after another, their new in-house-designed lineup emerged. Features and benefits were explored, and contractors' questions were answered. The feedback was decidedly enthusiastic.

After a short break, Dan came back and presented the seminar version of his latest book, "Primary-Secondary Pumping Made Easy." This book is the equal of Dan's classic, "Pumping Away," and the seminar, which combined a clear and logical presentation with Dan's great sense of humor, was great as well. The information presented was so powerful that dozens of Dan's new book were sold later that night.

Which brings us to the next phase of the day's activities: The book sale/autograph session. When Design Air's sales manager, Bill Riley, announced Dan would autograph any of his books purchased that day and that all of the profits would be donated by Design Air to the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, an enthusiastic line formed for Dan's signature. In all, 150 books were sold and personally autographed by Dan.

After the book sale was completed, Bill came back to announce that he had lined up a matching grant and that the total amount raised was exactly $2,000. Professor Holohan could only shake his head in amazement. "These Midwest Wetheads were something else!"

The evening concluded with cocktails and dinner. The ensuing toasts added to the warm emotional glow we all were feeling. Each attendee left with a Crown jacket, a head full of information and a renewed enthusiasm for "the new hydronics."