HPAC Magazine

HRAI Conference scores in Montreal

September 20, 2023 | By Doug Picklyk

With a theme of More Wins, keynote speaker Ken Dryden set the tone.

Ken Dryden, NHL Hall of Fame, Montreal Canadiens legend and HRAI Keynote speaker.

The concepts of teamwork and playing to win were recurring themes at this year’s Heating Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI) annual conference held in Montreal, September 17-19.

Being home to the hockey-mad fans of the Montreal Canadiens, the conference adopted a hockey theme along with a slogan of “More Wins.”

To kick off the event, Canadiens’ goaltending legend Ken Dryden addressed the conference attendees, which includes HVAC/R manufacturers, wholesalers/distributors, and contractors.

Hall of Famer

Dryden’s talk focused on climate change and the challenges we face both as an industry and as a nation. He zeroed in on the challenge of taking on something that’s much bigger than any one of us, and something we’ve never faced before.

A winner of six Stanley Cups in the 1970s, along with being a member of the classic 1972 Canada-Russia Summit series, Dryden understands winning.

He reflected on challenges he faced in his many careers, as hockey player, lawyer, writer, educator and politician, including the shock of being called up as a rookie to start game one of the playoffs versus the Bruins in 1971.

“While I had no idea if i could do it; I didn’t know I couldn’t do it. So I just played, and found out I could,” said Dryden. They went on to win the Cup that year, Dryden taking home the MVP.

“It’s the same, I think, for all of us with any big problem. We don’t know if we can handle it, we just can’t know that we can’t.”

Then he quoted former teammate Pete Mahovlich, “We gotta play it. We might as well win it.”

It’s a philosophy he’s adopted for life, and feels it applies to addressing the current climate issues.

It can’t be ignored, so we need to work together to make the changes required. That includes harnessing the strength of the association’s network, the complete chain from product to customer, to understand and be able to deliver workable solutions.

He also acknowledged that government and industry need to work together.
“How can we make what’s good for the environment good for business too?” he asked. “It’s those who come to think this way, act this way, and do this best, who will be the future’s biggest winners.”


Other sessions over the two-day conference included panel discussions on the topics of the technologies that will help the built environment respond to climate issues, how a shift to electrification can be accomplished without significant infrastructure upgrades, how the industry can find, retain and grow the workforce required to meet the significant new build and retrofit challenges, and finally how will refrigerant phase outs and new refrigerant introductions affect product availability in the near future.

While no silver bullet solutions were presented, promising prospects exist, and the overall message delivered was that the need for collaboration among all industry sectors and government relations are key.

New Chair and Awards

Tara Smith, HRAI Chair 2023-24.

Taking on the role of national Chair of the HRAI for 2023-24 is Tara Smith, owner of Mr Furnace in Winnipeg. The 55th Chair in the history of the association, Smith moves on from her position of Chair of HRAI’s contractor division for the past three years, and Chair of the Manitoba HRAI Chapter for 11 years. She is a strong advocate of regional chapter participation, and she will be a champion for continued teamwork in the year ahead.

The association also handed out some awards, recognizing valuable players and industry veterans.

Dennis Kozina receives Award of Merit from outgoing Chair, Bill Davis.

The Award of Merit was presented to Dennis Kozina (HRAI Chair, 2019-20).

The Warren Heeley Environmental Achievement Award was presented to Ruth Talbot of CMHC (formerly with NRCAN), an advocate and HRAI liaison with the Greener Homes program.

President’s Recognition Awards went to John Harris, (HRAI trainer); Bill Yeo, (served on the board of directors of Refrigerant Management Canada (RMC)) and Ralph Suppa, (retiring President/CEO of CIPH).

Ralph Suppa receives award from HRAI CEO Sandy Macleod

And a Life Member Award was presented to Marc Gendron, (HRAI
Chair in 2017).

Next year’s HRAI conference will be held in Vancouver, September 22-24.


Marc Gendron (right) receives award from HRAI VP Martin Luymes.



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