IIAR Hosts Successful 50th Annual Meeting

IIAR 2021 Natural Refrigeration Online Conference & Virtual Expo brought technical education, industrial trend insights, and information on products and services to natural refrigeration professionals in June. This was the second time IIAR presented its annual meeting online as COVID-19 continued to create potential disruptions and planning challenges.

While the industry is eager to meet face-to-face again, there are benefits to a virtual format. Having this conference available through streaming offers education for those who can’t normally attend,” said Gary Schrift, IIAR president, while welcoming virtual attendees.

Attendees come from all facets of the industry including design engineers, contractors, end-users, academics, scientists, trainers, and government agencies.


During the session, Dave Schaefer, IIAR’s 2020-2021 chairman and chief engineer at Bassett Mechanical, presented the IIAR Member of the Year Award to Bruce Nelson. The honor is given to an individual to recognize service to the organization that is exceptional and above expectation. As immediate past chair of IIAR, Nelson’s ideas and leadership helped guide the IIAR organization through the Covid-19 pandemic. He also led the selection process for recruiting and hiring the new president of IIAR, Gary Schrift.

“Bruce has traveled the world advocating for IIAR, presented many times at IIAR conferences, and was instrumental in helping develop IIAR’s new piping handbook, among other important contributions,” Schaefer said.

Nelson devoted 40 years of his career to Colmac Coil Manufacturing, retiring on July 4. He is continuing to work in the industry through his newly formed consulting company, Bruce V. Nelson Engineering LLC.

IIAR occasionally elects individuals as honorary life members in recognition of their enduring contributions to the industry. The award grants all the privileges of an IIAR membership at no cost to the recipient. This year the association chose three honorary life members: Rich Merrill, Peter Jordan, and Nelson.

Schaefer said Merrill has generously volunteered his time for years, sharing his extensive code experience with the Standards Committee and chairing the IIAR 1 Standard Committee for many years.

Jordan has also been very involved in the Standards Committee for many years, chaired the IIAR-7 and IIAR-8 Committees, has served on almost every committee, and was IIAR’s chairman. “His extensive knowledge of refrigeration and the safety standards have truly improved our standards and made our industry safer,” Schaefer said.


Eric Johnston, IIAR chair-elect, Nominating Committee Chair, and Strategic Planning Committee Chair, announced nominations for new members of the IIAR board of directors. They are Carl Burris of Tyson Foods, Jeff Sutton of Mr. Ammonia Refrigeration, Mark Bazis, Jr. of Refrigeration Consultants Inc., Jim Adler of Hixson, Engineer, Todd Jekel of the University of Wisconsin, and Maxime Girot or Clauger De Mexico.

Members of the board of directors serving second terms are Alexander Vergara of Anheuser-Busch and Wayne Wehber of Vilter. Jeff Carter of General Mills has moved to the Executive Committee. Board members completing service include Stefan Jensen, Jeremy Klysen, Bob Czarnecki, and Nelson.


IIAR has become a premier educational association. It has expanded its recent offerings and has more on the way. While speaking during the general session, Nelson reminded members of scholarships that The Ammonia Refrigeration Foundation has available. “We are currently funding eight scholars, including the first international recipient who is from Africa,” he said. “Please let your family and co-workers with engineering students know about our ARF scholarship,” he said, adding that ARF funds curriculum and course content for the Academy of Natural Refrigerants. The Ammonia Refrigeration Foundation has three new research projects this year.


The COVID-19 pandemic and the related cancellations of in-person meetings affected IIAR’s budget. Dave Malinauskas, 2020-2021 IIAR treasurer and president at Cimco Refrigeration, said 2020-2021 was a challenging year, but decreases in revenue were offset by strong expense management at IIAR. Payne said the same was true for the foundation. “I am pleased to report that despite the pandemic and the cancellation of planned networking events, the foundation flourishes. The foundation is fiscally solid and performing all of its intended industry-related goals. Your donations have made this possible,” he said.


As IIAR and its members prepare for the future, Schaefer said the association is focusing on educational content as well as top industry issues. “We continue to make changes that will make our organization stronger going forward,” he said.