ARF News

Message from the Foundation Chairman
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader”

–John Quincy Adams

The son of John Adams, our more widely renowned second President, John Quincy Adams, and our nation’s sixth President, was an incredibly accomplished statesman and visionary. And he set a great example of devotion to a calling that many of IIAR’s past Chairs have followed. It’s an example of leadership that all can aspire to, and one that I hope to emulate as well.

Having lost a re-election campaign, and motivated by love of country, John Quincy Adams became the only American president to have followed his presidency with a term in Congress.

That extraordinary service was distinguished by many activities, including, among other accomplishments, his outspoken advocacy against slavery. Most notably, he defended the escaped slaves of the slave ship Amistad before the U.S. Supreme Court.

In such demonstration of service, our former IIAR Chairs have displayed similar passion for their industry and their work. I have witnessed the ongoing devotion to our industry of many of our former Chairs through their committee work and committee leadership. Truly, the world of natural refrigeration can be a lifetime commitment offering a lifetime of learning and growth.

The progression of Chairs, in the design of IIAR’s Executive Committee, now bestows responsibility for ARF Chairmanship on the Immediate Past Chair of the IIAR. That important role is a privilege and also a signal that the conclusion of one’s chairmanship is not nearly the end of one’s engagement with our industry.

Contributing to the ARF mission by helping build a strong foundation for our future and adding talent and knowledge to the industrial refrigeration community we serve is viewed as a welcome responsibility for all of us.

I take on that responsibility to serve as ARF Chair with great enthusiasm for building upon the tremendous efforts that have preceded my tenure. And I very much look forward to continuing to serve alongside of you.

Our Foundation has, in the last year, added a dynamic and dedicated new leader, Executive Director, Lois O’Connor. We have expanded our scholarship activities, as remarkably demonstrated in the character of the recent recipients attending our Conference in San Antonio. And we have supported active, important and ongoing research projects. Finally, we remain blessed with the engagement and contributions of our board and our trustees.

Most recently, we have collaborated with our partners at RETA and the Department of Defense to establish a streamlined pathway to serve our industry for our nation’s veterans. Building a bridge between the service performed by our distinguished veterans and a civilian career in industrial refrigeration is one of the most rewarding challenges we face.

Tom Leighty, immediate past ARF Chair, through his continued leadership in our organization, has laid a path for ARF of ever more relevant contributions to our industry and a financial solidity that I am inspired to continue.

I thank you all for your leadership as exemplified by the growth of the natural refrigeration industry. I welcome and encourage your efforts, personal and financial, to support our Industry’s Foundation.

Let’s work together to ensure that the ARF continues to serve the needs of our industry’s future.

The Ammonia Refrigeration Foundation (ARF) and Refrigerating Engineers and Technicians Association (RETA) recently announced that they would partner to create a scholarship fund to benefit military veterans, National Guard and reservists who wish to study in RETA certified refrigeration technicians training programs across the country.

In keeping with its mission to promote the development of industry talent through scholarships, academic alliances and outreach, the fund will help to expand the Foundation’s scope and growth in new and exciting directions. “We want to encourage and support all aspects of industry talent, which is what led us to support our sister organization (RETA), which is the credentialing body for those working in the field as technicians,” said Lois O’Connor, the Foundation’s executive director.

“As a foundation, we can and will provide the conduit between our collective IIAR and RETA membership, along with multiple government agencies and local chambers of commerce to encourage our transitioning military, our National Guard and reservists to consider the refrigeration industry as a career,” O’Connor said.

Jim Barron, RETA executive director, echoed his support for the partnership. “This is in keeping with RETA’s mission statement of developing operators and professional engineers,” he said. “We have veterans coming out of the service that need a job or a skill, or who want to continue on with the things they have already learned. This is right up their alley. For us to be able to do something of this nature where we can train these veterans and keep our industry moving forward is a positive thing.”

Donations can be designated specifically to the new fund, which will be set up online at the Foundation’s website, and by all the traditional ways of giving to the Foundation. All money raised will be used for scholarships in the natural refrigeration industry for training at trade and technical schools that are using the RETA certification curriculum and approved by the RETA scholarship committee.

“We want to reach out to our veterans because, first of all, it’s the right thing to do,” said O’Connor. “Nobody was really sure how to do it, and this seems like a valid method and time to take action. Our industry has numerous members who are veterans. To reach out to this sector gives us an immediate and logical progression toward developing industry talent.”

Barron said that attracting young talent to the refrigeration industry is a tremendous challenge. “It’s not just refrigeration, but all the trade industries that are hurting for young people coming into the field. We need to target those people who are coming out of the service or college and make opportunities available to them,” he said.

O’Connor previously worked with the military and the Department of Defense in her role as senior director of advancement, programs and outreach for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund and as director of advancement for the Air Force Association and the Air Force Memorial. In December, the Foundation joined with the Global Cold Chain Alliance to sign a statement of support for the DOD’s “Employer Support for Guards and Reserves” program. “That means as an industry we are supporting the hiring of our guard and reserves,” she said.

The partnership signals a new path for the Foundation and RETA, as both organizations work together to entice talented people toward a career in the ammonia refrigeration industry. Currently, RETA does not have a 501/c/3 Foundation, so this partnership provides the opportunity for both IIAR and RETA to solidify their existing strong working relationship, IIAR said.

“RETA may not have a foundation, but it has the educational materials and programs in place to obtain the certifications and credentials necessary to work in the ammonia refrigeration industry,” O’Connor said. Added Barron, “This is just another way that shows how we can work together for the betterment of our industry. I think it’s important for us to do that every chance we get so that we can make our industry the best it can be.” The Foundation will act as trustee and holder of the fund, and it will work on behalf of RETA on fundraising. Meanwhile, an advisory committee created by RETA will identify and select scholarship recipients.

“This is part of our new mission to develop individual talent and to build a bridge between two organizations that might be distinct and different, but that also have similar goals and purpose,” O’Connor said. “This is an exciting new venture. It is an opportunity as a foundation to provide access for developing talent and maximizing the skill sets and opportunities for our men and women in the military.” Although a date has not been determined for awarding the initial scholarships, the goal is for a September roll-out. Those interested in more information on the scholarship fund can visit the Foundation’s website or contact O’Connor at Lois_Oconnor@

“This is a great opportunity for many people,” Barron said. “It’s not just for those in the industry but for the people who want to enter the industry. I’d like to thank the Foundation and IIAR for coming to RETA with this high visibility opportunity.”