IIAR Honors Members for Outstanding Contributions

During IIAR’s annual conference and expo, IIAR honored Dave Schaefer with the Member of the Year Award and Joe Pillis and Jeff Shapiro with Honorary Lifetime Member Awards. “All three—Dave, Jeff, and Joe—are well deserving of the awards,” said Kurt Liebendorfer, vice president of Evapcold. Schaefer served as chief engineer for Bassett Mechanical before retiring earlier this year.

“Dave has over 35 years of engineering experience managing projects for a multitude of clients and held engineering positions for several end-users before joining Bassett in 1997,” said Eric Johnston, Chair of IIAR.

Schaefer has been a corresponding and voting member of the IIAR standards committee for many years and most recently chaired the IIAR-2 subcommittee during the long and sometimes arduous process of developing IIAR 2-2014 addendum A and the 2021 version. “These efforts have helped IIAR 2 become the sole source of requirements for ammonia refrigeration,” Johnston said.

Schaefer served as a member of the board of directors for two terms and then rolled onto the executive committee for several years. He is currently IIAR’s immediate past chair. “He was instrumental in helping IIAR pivot operations when Covid struck, providing sound leadership to the BOD and staff during this uncertain period,” Johnston said.

Receiving the award was a surprise to Schaefer. “There are so many folks that work and put in a lot of hours. It is definitely a labor of love,” he said. “It is so neat to be part of a group that helps the industry become safer and more aware of doing the right thing, whether it is codes and standards, research, scholarships. It is a good group.”

Johnston said Pillis, an engineering fellow at Johnson Controls, has long been recognized as one of the world’s leading experts on compressor design and applications. “He’s written many papers, provided very many lectures, holds several patents, and has generously given his time and expertise to IIAR,” Johnston said while presenting the award. “Joe has served for many years on the IIAR standards committee, both as a corresponding member and voting member, providing a keen sense of understanding and well-balanced consideration of end-user needs, design considerations, regulatory functions, and safety concerns of our industry.”

Pillis is currently an IIAR board member and is leading the committee in developing a standard for hydrocarbon refrigeration. “He continues to be a great asset to IIAR and Johnson Controls, and we are delighted to present him a lifetime membership award in recognition of his contributions,” Johnston said.

Liebendorfer has known Pillis professionally and personally for over 25 years as a customer, coworker, competitor, co-committee member, teacher, leader, solver, and, most importantly, a good friend. “Joe is one of those special individuals that has earned and commanded true global respect in the refrigeration world for many years. Many times, Joe has also been a part of my personal growth in this great community, and I am honored and very thankful for knowing him,” he said.

Don Faust, training manager for Johnson Controls, has known Pillis for 30 years. “You always had college professors you thought were the smartest guys you’d ever met. Joe beats all of my college professors. He is an absolute encyclopedia on compressors,” he said. “It is fun to hear him talk.”

In manufacturing, problems arise that can seem impossible. “Joe digs in. He’s solved some problems that are just mind-boggling. He does that with a smile and an ‘aw shucks’ kind of thing. He is one of the most brilliant people I know,” Faust said.

IIAR also presented an Honorary Lifetime Member Award to Jeff Shapiro of International Code Consultants. Shapiro has diligently worked with IIAR since the late 1990s, successfully identifying many code issues and petitioning for code changes on behalf of the industry.

“He has also represented IIAR on the ASHRAE 15 committee and helped to enable deference of ammonia refrigeration to IIAR standards,” Johnston said. “He has recently succeeded in IIAR’s ultimate goal to successfully petition all of the model codes to defer to IIAR standards, eliminating any confusion or conflicts for ammonia refrigeration design and operation requirements.”

Additionally, Shapiro has been innovative in developing several standards and has contributed significantly to the improvement of many of IIAR’s publications. Liebendorfer has known Schaefer and Shapiro professionally for many years, working with them on projects, IIAR committee work, and related topics. “I have the utmost admiration and respect for both of them as industry leaders and experts in their field,” he said. “It is leaders like Dave and Jeff that make our industry so effective, special, and dependable, and I am honored to know them.”

The winners were chosen by IIAR’s nominations committee, which asks members to nominate recipients. “The committee meets in October or November to review the nominations and vote on the final choices. Those choices are submitted to the chair of IIAR for his final approval,” Gary Schrift, President of IIAR said.