This is the second in a series of articles on the new Radiant Professionals Alliance (RPA). Go to www.Contractormag.comto read Part 1 of this series on the new RPA.

Any organization is only as good as its leadership. The new RPA is fortunate to have Kathleen Mihelich at the helm. Kathleen’s roots go way back and run real deep as it pertains to her ability to manage the day-to-day operations of an association. She has held management roles at many larger passing ships from numerous recognized code related organizations, including BOCA Intl., ICC and IAPMO. The primary focus of her work has been directing the educational and certification services sectors for these organizations. She has been doing so since 1987 and has had as many as 80 people working under her direction doing everything from developing educational programs,  creating curriculum, delivering as many as 1,000 seminars per year and issuing that many certifications.

She has also served on A.N.S.I.’s Certificate Accreditation Program Committee. Her education includes a Masters degree in instructional and training technology from Governor’s State University in Illinois, along with a Bachelors of Science degree in education from Northern Illinois University.

Suffice to say that she is very qualified to be the executive director of the new RPA, and in my opinion, the organizations new captain is a great person with a very friendly attitude to boot. She is very committed to seeing the new RPA make big differences in the world in which we live, work and relax. She loves a challenge, and when approached to take over the helm of the flailing RPA she knew it was going to be quite the challenge to reorganize and restructure the RPA.  Progress has been made, but Kathleen shared that she is continuing to read blogs, which indicate that the RPA still has work to do in getting across to its former members the true purpose of a trade association which isn’t just about training, being in the company of guru notables, and networking with friends. 

It’s about being a comprehensive, non-partisan agency that the industry can rely upon to protect and promote its interests. For example, the new RPA is focusing on public relations activities such as advertising the industry to consumers, decision makers and influencers which will help stimulate growth.  The RPA is focusing on standardization of the industry in order to give consumers confidence in the industry which will in turn develop the industry beyond its current sluggish growth. And, the RPA is positioned to influence governmental policy in a direction favorable to the industry members. 

These are the activities of a trade association which is focused on the evolution of the industry… and exactly what the radiant and hydronic industry needs right now. Unfortunately, too many “are not getting it.” 

To make sure that is wasn’t us “not getting it,” we posted a member survey on the RPA website landing page to find out what everyone, who has a stake in radiant and hydronics, needs and wants. We found we are on-course and delivering what the members need and want with many of the initiatives we have in progress.

When asked, “What’s in it (joining the RPA) for me?” Kathleen said that above and beyond the opportunity of being able to socialize with and speak with this industry’s best minds, there is the opportunity to make significant changes that will positively impact our industry as a whole.

“Advocate codes and standards” and “having access to experts in codes and standards” were identified as desired by members. A significant impact on the growth of the industry will be the creation of an ANSI-accredited Solar Energy and Hydronics Code. When properly implemented, it will help expand national, regional and international markets; help reduce costs and the time to market for products and services; and will allow code users to achieve a competitive advantage over those who do not follow the code. It also will serve as a sound basis for education and greatly needed certification programs.

To clarify, the development and implementation of a solar and hydronics code does not mean that the organization is going to tell people what can and can’t be done (plateless staple up versus highly conductive radiant panels, drain back solar versus closed loop solar), but instead will show where each is appropriate, how it should be applied and which method is more efficient. People who have attempted to apply plateless staple up with a solar interface have learned this lesson the hard and expensive way. Some things don’t work well together. It is the association’s goal to standardize accepted methods of application of these diverse, water based systems.

This is not just a matter of training the contractors, designers and installers, but also, more importantly, the training and education of the inspectors in the field responsible for enforcing the code for the Authority Having Jurisdiction. I personally believe it will make everyone’s job easier, and will definitely increase the consumers trust factor as it pertains to our industry as a whole.

“I cannot express strongly enough how critical memberships are in order for us to continue to do all we are doing and continue to have a definite and positive influence on the radiant and hydronics industry. We need the manufacturers, designers, architects, suppliers, distributors, builders, contractors and installers to stay with us and believe in us…give the RPA a second chance… and come back.”

Membership is extremely affordable. If you’ve not had the opportunity to check into the organization’s website recently, I implore you to visit them at www.radiantprofessionalsalliance.org. Thenclick on the “membership” link, then click on the “join” link and choose the appropriate category for your organization. There are many new benefits to being a member, including discounted business insurance rates, as well as discounted shipping rates from some respected and recognized organizations, with additional membership benefits in the works as we speak. It is in my humble opinion, an organization worth belonging to. There is strength in numbers, and I for one am happy to count myself in an organization worth belonging to.

Tune in next month as we continue to take a hard look at the new Radiant Professionals Alliance, a division of the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials. Until then, Happy New Year hydronicing.

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