SCHAUMBURG, ILL. — The Radiant Professionals Alliance recorded another chapter in its comeback year, hosting the first annual meeting of the revitalized RPA during the Mechanical Systems Week conference and show here in late September.

In welcoming attendees to the Sept. 18‐21 event, RPA Board of Directors Chairman Mark Chaffee of Taco Inc. spoke with optimism about the “new RPA,” which joined the International Association of Plumbing & Mechanical Officials earlier this year. The reformation of RPA is a move forward in support of the industry’s professionals and will help guide the future of the hydronic and radiant industry, he said. Chaffee emphasized that RPA is dedicated to the professional growth and development of everyone in the industry.

RPA Director of Technical Services Mike Geagan, a lifelong industry veteran who now owns rep firm MBD Hydro Inc. in the Chicago area, told CONTRACTOR that RPA has reached out to its counterparts at the Air Conditioning Contractors of America and would be happy to work with ACCA for the betterment of the industry.

CONTRACTOR’s hydronic heating columnist Mark Eatherton, who chairs RPA’s education committee, said he has recruited a number of people active in the ACCA Radiant & Hydronic Council to also become active with RPA.

“The new RPA — right now — is energized and equipped with the talent to chart a course of action,” Chaffee said. “Ready to engage and enlist all of you here, along with our fellow industry leaders, for the purpose of directing and guiding the future of the hydronic and radiant industry.”

The conference was co‐located with Penton Media’s Mechanical Systems Week, an event for which the RPA signed on as an endorsing partner. The RPA presented seminars during the event and hosted a booth in the Mechanical Systems Week Expo.

The membership meeting also included educational seminars, a member forum, and presentations from three IAPMO officials: Allen Inlow, senior director of Business and Product Development; Dave Viola, senior director of Technical Services; and Dain Hansen, director of Government Relations.

Chaffee said that RPA members and staff would work with IAPMO to expand on the group’s Uniform Solar Energy Code to include geothermal and hydronics. Hydronic and radiant distribution systems complement the thermal-energy-producing ability of solar and geothermal. Viola said that development of the hydronics code along with continued development of the IAPMO Green Plumbing & Mechanical Code Supplement will create a turnkey document that covers all aspects of using water as a heart transfer medium. The hydronics code will be a baseline document that will provide a consistent, level playing field and protect public health and safety. Practitioners can differentiate themselves by how far above the baseline they go, Viola said.

Inlow told attendees about the Canadian Beautiful Heat campaign that promotes hydronic and radiant heating. Inlow believes that the industry can have an immediate impact in the U.S. by marketing to homebuilders and consumers by adopting parts of the campaign.

Hansen told the crowd that two things can help an industry succeed: government and codes and standards; the same two can hinder an industry. RPA’s involvement in policy initiatives gives the group visibility and credibility, Hansen said. RPA can craft a consistent industry message, become the go-to group for the industry, and get hydronics and radiant included in federal and state incentive programs. Codes and standards help the industry with consumers, Hansen said, who become weary of a Wild West, anything-goes atmosphere of a business without standards. Industry standards also get themselves written into laws, regulations and building codes, Hansen noted.

RPA Director Kathleen Mihelich said she was very pleased with the turnout and reaction of the attendees.

“The members who attended came with a purpose,” Mihelich said. “They wanted assurances that the RPA’s mission and direction coincides with what they believe is necessary to strengthen the industry. They were inspired by what they heard and are not only resuming their participation, but encouraging others to, as well.”

The meeting also included seminars by Tom Meyer of the National Environmental Balancing Bureau on commissioning hydronic systems; by Eatherton on electric radiant windows; and by CONTRACTOR columnist Carol Fey on selling and installing energy saving controls.

The event’s keynote address was delivered by Weldon Long, who, after serving time in jail, turned his life around and became a highly successful HVAC contractor, motivational speaker and author of books including the award‐winning “The Upside of Fear.”

Long reformed himself so that he could properly take care of his young son. Long told the group that your life is whatever is in your head. Thoughts trigger emotions, Long said, emotions trigger action, and an action triggers results. It’s impossible to have an emotion that’s at odds with the thought, Long pointed out, so good thoughts lead to good emotions and actions. Long’s “prosperity mindset” resulted in his selling $20 million in HVAC products over a five-year period.