IIAR Members Return to First Post-Covid Conference

The International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration 2022 annual Natural Refrigeration Conference & Expo held its first in person meeting since 2019 this year in Savannah, Georgia, March 6-9.


The event attracted 1,272 attendees and 122 exhibitors and provided four days of technical knowledge, networking, and industry-sponsored events for those involved in the natural refrigeration industry.

“Everyone was happy to be finally getting out and seeing each other face to face after about two years of lockdowns and Zoom,” said Fran Knorr, business development manager, InterCool USA.

Gary Schrift, IIAR’s president, said the weather was great, the location was well-liked, and the timing was just right with Covid cases greatly dropping, allowing many to feel comfortable getting out for the first time in a long while. “We received a big ‘after Covid bounce’ and therefore most everyone, including myself, thought the conference was a great success,” he said.

Dave Malinauskas, president of CIMCO Refrigeration, said the business meeting on Monday morning was the first event that brought all attendees together. “To see over 1,000 people, friends, partners in the room after two years, was amazing,” he said. “The whole session was strong. We were pleased.”


During the business meeting, Schrift provided an update on all IIAR has accomplished in the past year, including its advocacy wins. “IIAR continues to support the efforts by the California Air Resources Board and the EPA to establish regulations regarding the phase-down of environmentally harmful HFC synthetic refrigerants through technical information and petitions recommending the use of low GWP natural refrigerants,” he said.

IIAR also contributed to an Amicus brief filing in support of an ammonia user, not for refrigeration, Tampa Electric in their defense of an OSHA appeal to vacate a previous favorable ruling to TECO’s emergency response and emergency preparedness.

IIAR has also formed a strong coalition with RETA, GCCA, and ASTI for the development of a safety program backed by all. “This coalition has also supported our EPA AIM act petitions and our Amicus Brief filings, creating a strong union,” Schrift said.


Schrift also reminded attendees that IIAR currently has 11 active committees, each with a chair, voting members, and corresponding members, who can become voting members after serving one active year as a corresponding member.

“I believe each one of you could find a committee of interest and one for which you can add significant value,” he said. “The committees are your organization’s workhorse, writing publications, creating training courses and material, providing government advocacy, developing international initiatives, and marketing the benefits of natural refrigerants and their systems.”

A highlight for Malinauskas was walking from committee meeting to committee meeting Sunday morning. “To see hundreds of people just volunteering their time on a Sunday morning was phenomenal. Such a high percentage of our conference population participates in that,” he said.


The technical sessions and workshops during the conference were very highly attended. “All the new developments in the IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) and the developments in the technology were very exciting,” Stachura said.

The technical programs focused on natural refrigerants and regulations and research. “There was a global natural market workshop, and the Sunday controls education program was also fantastic,” Malinauskas said.

IIAR recorded all technical sessions, and the recordings will be available to all in-person attendees and registrants and to anyone who paid for virtual conference attendance.

IIAR held its VIP, reception and other events outside, which added to the experience. Schrift said the Monday night event was in a park in downtown Savannah and featured great music, food, and drinks. “Everyone seemed to stay till the end, and thus I see that as a great event success versus people leaving throughout,” Schrift said.

This was the first in-person conference for Matt Stachura, PSM coordinator, Perry’s Ice Cream Co. Inc. “It was a blast. The location was full of amazing pirate history, and it was good to see old friends as vendors again and hear all about some of the things people have been working on the last few years.”

During the exhibition, many exhibitors brought and demonstrated equipment. “For many of them, they have gone two to three years with developments and no place to show them,” Schrift said.


A feature of this year’s show was the app, which provided information to attendees in the palms of their hands. “It’s more convenient as everyone carries their phone versus having to remember to carry a printed guide,” Schrift said, adding that moving forward, the plan is for this to be a staple of future conferences with more visibility and possibly more features.

The app featured technical program information, a meeting map, and a direct messaging application. It also offered attendees the ability to create their own calendar. “The app was nice so that we could keep the schedule and know where and when to be for the different lectures,” Stachura said. The app also allows for IIAR to minimize print costs which is not only environmentally friendly but also allows IIAR to adjust times and meeting locations as needed and they are immediately conveyed.


The executive officers and IIAR staff collected a large list of opportunities for improvement for the 2023 conference, such as conference and exhibition content and logistics. “The ideas were collected from attendees, exhibitors, and from our group’s experience,” Schrift said. “So, although the conference was a very successful event, we want to repeat the successes, but was also want to add functions and changes that make it even better.”