New products, technology or wood floors and radiant -- all this and more were discussed at RadFest's RadNet Live, an extension of the RPA's online bulletin boards in roundtable format.

The Radiant Panel Association brought its regional RadFest show to the west coast in Tacoma, Wash., May 1-3 for a round of seminars, courses, roundtable discussions and a trade show. More than 330 individuals registered for RadFest West, where attendees listened to featured speaker Robert Bean of Healthy Heating, Alberta, Canada. He spoke on “The Future of Radiant,” and targeting consumer markets.

Bean told the group that Baby Boomers will begin retiring in 2011, and the last of them will more than likely abandon the workplace in 2029. He suggested that radiant professionals should immediately raise their prices to take advantage of offering a highly valued service at a time when the market (Boomers) still has the money to spend. He added that radiant pros should redefine their identity in their market - not just as plumbers who do radiant, but as comfort specialists.

“The challenge to you guys is to take a leadership role in communicating [to consumers] that we create systems that work,” Bean said, adding that the only thermostat in any house that matters is, “the one in [the homeowner's] head.”

John Siegenthaler presented a series of examples of radiant system errors and solutions. He both entertained and informed his audience on each drawing's faults and how to create more efficient systems (see page 59 for a sampling of Siegenthaler's “The Glitch & The Fix” schematics).

Other seminars included sessions on radiant and solar, electric radiant, and radiant flooring. In the radiant flooring session, speaker Hoyt Corbett found out quickly his attendees were mostly new to the subject.

“Once I saw how many were new to the topic, I had to change my delivery to start at the basics,” Corbett said. Corbett, founding editor of the Radiant Flooring Guide, is a leading expert on the topic of how to match radiant systems with flooring.

After a reception sponsored by Caleffi, attendees woke to a Grundfos-sponsored roundtable breakfast known as RadNet Live, an extension to the RPA's online bulletin boards. A wide range of topics was discussed, including new products and technology.

All day Wednesday featured the Radiant Basics and Radiant Precision courses taught by instructor Bill Shady of Sustainable Design & Project Management, Santa Cruz, Calif., and Siegenthaler, respectively. The classes were full and students gave rave reviews.

Finally, more than 40 exhibitors of everything from boilers to zone controls presented their wares in the Expo Hall.

“We've had good traffic all day,” said exhibitor John Fantauzzi of Precision Hydronic Products in Portland. “I was at RadFest East [in Chantilly, Va., October 2005] and this event looks to be a little better attended.”

The Radiant Panel Association will hold its annual convention at the Westin Chicago as part of the ISH North America Show, Sept. 28-30. RPA also has set tentative dates for its 2007 Annual Convention, Aug. 22-24, in Hartford, Conn. For more information on these events, visit the RPA's Web site (linked below).

Jack Sweet, Tim Fausch and Katie Rotella contributed to this article.