An estimated – and astounding – 139 million people viewed The Closing BellTM when representatives of the HVACR industry recently ended the trading day at the New York Stock Exchange while standing on a podium before a banner that proclaimed “Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Appreciation Days.”
Looking down from 20 feet above the floor of the Exchange at hundreds of traders cheering The Closing Bell prompted thoughts about how things have changed since approximately a century ago when the Exchange became one of the first major institutions in American to install air conditioning and only a few hundred people would have viewed the closing.
Thanks to comfort cooling, electronic equipment throughout the historic stock exchange building flashed data that detailed trading of more than a billion shares on August 9. Cable and TV broadcasts brought the bell closing scene to millions of offices and homes, and within minutes a picture of the event was on the Web site of the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute at www.ari.org.
Fortuitously, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up for a fourth straight day. There was happiness on the floor and among the 11 industry representatives as we celebrated shipment of the 130 millionth central air conditioner since the founding of ARI in 1953.
But what would be the mood in the trading room and how long could heat-sensitive computers function without conditioned air? What would happen to telecommunications equipment without humidity control? How could computer chips be perfected without clean rooms? What would be the impact on productivity if the clock was turned back to the days when temperatures in the 90s emptied offices and factories? How would food and medicine safety and supply be affected without modern refrigeration and refrigerated transport?
Thanks to an infrastructure built up over decades – and the innovative contributions of men and women in our industry who care about improving the quality of life – people live, work and play in a vastly different world from a century ago.
From a novelty for moviegoers at theaters in the 1920s to modern-day, high-tech manufacturers’ clean rooms, glass skyscrapers and malls, air conditioning is a defining technology. It has transformed America and many parts of the world.
Yet our contributions are largely taken for granted. With air conditioning available to 83 percent of American households, it is becoming almost as common as water and electricity. You only miss it when the electricity goes off or the unit dies of old age.
I believe the industry would sell more equipment if specifiers, building owners and consumers better appreciated our products, and also the people responsible for manufacture, sales, distribution, installation and maintenance of the equipment.
The New York Stock Exchange Closing Bell ceremony was fledgling step toward elevating awareness about the industry. But a meeting in Chicago last month by an industry-wide group of manufacturers and contractors may have more lasting impact.
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Working collegially at a meeting dubbed the “Awareness Summit,” they are exploring the messages and delivery mechanisms by which the HVACR industry can raise its profile in positive ways with target groups. We have an extraordinary message of achievement. And, new and better ways are evolving to provide more comfort and improved health from more efficient equipment operating at lower cost in harmony with the environment.
It’s cool to care about our customers and the environment and we do. There will never be a better time to build on our message of accomplishment with an industry-wide campaign that reminds the world of how our equipment improves the quality of life.