Upcoming IIAR Conference Features Significant Changes

The 2024 IIAR Natural Refrigeration Conference & Heavy Equipment Expo, March 24-27, in Orlando, will bring several significant changes from previous years, including an updated schedule and an exclusive Natural Refrigeration Foundation Fun Day.

“Ultimately our post-conference survey received many positive improvement recommendations with most people not wanting a longer conference, but many people wanting new things added,” said Gary Schrift, president of IIAR. “The only way to accommodate new programs being added was to remove some that we felt were not essential and to re-order timing of things to make a more efficient use of the days we have.”


Activities will kick off on Saturday, March 23, which will feature IIAR’s board meeting. Most committee meetings will take place Saturday afternoon instead of Sunday. “The committee meetings are the heart and soul of where the work gets done. By having almost all of the committee meetings taking place on Saturday, we can get a lot of the focused work done,” said John Flynn, chairman of IIAR’s education committee and director of business development for General Refrigeration.

Flynn added that any committee meetings that don’t take place on Saturday will be held Tuesday morning. “A lot of volunteer labor has to take place at the committee level,” he said.

On Saturday night, the association will feature the first IIAR VIP Dinner/ Reception. “Although the name may sound familiar, this event on Saturday night is to welcome all IIAR Board, Committee Chairs, and Committee Members,” said Yesenia Rector, IIAR’s meetings and international program director. “The objective is to thank our committee members and foster connections between IIAR committee members, including international committee members, and the board of directors.”


Sunday, March 24, will feature the NRF Fun Day, which will have three tournaments—golf, pickleball, and cornhole— all starting in the morning. “We’ve had the golf tournament for decades, but only a limited number of people get to participate. By adding pickleball and cornhole, we anticipate a broader group of players and a bigger audience to watch the games,” Flynn said. “It will be a welcome change for those that want to participate or watch their friends participate.”

The goal is to raise awareness and donations for the NRF and its mission. “As everyone is enjoying the events, I hope that they will also become more involved with the NRF and help us to promote natural refrigerants and inspire a younger generation to pursue careers and support our industry’s effort to expand the use of natural refrigerants,” Flynn said. “These days everyone, and especially students, appreciate that natural refrigerants are environmentally friendly, energy efficient, don’t deplete the ozone layer and have ultra-low global warming potential.”

Flynn noted that this year the NRF Scholarship had a record number of applicants, including nearly half from schools that had not previously applied for the NRF Scholarship. “This year, the NRF board approved the expansion of the scholarships to eight new candidates. We hope that by expanding the quantity and quality of NRF scholarship, we will be able to attract the next generation of natural refrigerant advocates who will serve as champions for our industry,” he said.

The three tournaments will all end around the same time. “Then we will have an NRF Reception to announce the winners of all the tournaments, talk to people about the NRF, and thank our sponsors for the tournaments and donors throughout the year,” Schrift said, adding that this reception takes the place of the past Saturday evening NRF VIP reception. “Then, early Sunday evening, the IIAR kickoff receptions begin with Women in Refrigeration, First Timers, and the Chairman’s receptions.”

Flynn said having the receptions on Sunday is important. “We want to make sure we get a lot of board members and industry veterans there so the people who are coming for the first time get to know people. It is nice to meet the new attendees early, and when you see them on the floor you can ask them how it is going,” he said.

The Women in Natural Refrigeration event is designed to help encourage diversity in the organization. “It is a way for women and other underrepresented groups to find a network of people that can support them in this industry,” Flynn said.

The Sunday program is capped off by the Annual Chairman’s Reception, which Flynn said is an excellent place for those in the industry to connect. “IIAR is the people. There is a lot of camaraderie in the industry, whether you are competitors or collaborators, when you get to an event like that, everyone is part of the same team,” Flynn said.

In the past, Sunday featured IIAR’s Sunday Educational program, which the association will not hold in 2024. “So, from early morning through late afternoon, Sunday will be wide open hoping that many participate in our three tournaments and the final receptions,” Schrift said.


IIAR is working to increase interest in the industry, and Wednesday will feature a Student Day. “Students are always free and can walk the exhibit hall at any time, but we are having a program targeted to the young engineers,” Flynn said, adding that students will be paired with someone in the industry and will visit exhibitors’ booths for discussions about the industry and hands-on exposure to the components and equipment used in industrial refrigeration.

“We are reaching out to top Florida engineering schools that might want their students to attend the Orlando event. There is also an effort to reach out to the historically black colleges and universities to develop more diversity in the organization,” Flynn said.

Recipients of the NRF Scholarships are also invited to attend the full event. “During the conference, these scholars will have a front-row seat as they meet with the IIAR executive team, the NRF Board and Trustees, and their exhibitor hosts who will guide each of them through the showroom floor, meeting with exhibitors and other industry veterans as they see the equipment that is used in industrial refrigeration,” Flynn said. “These are incredible young people who are inspired by the mission of natural refrigeration to help the climate.”


The event will continue to feature educational seminars, talks, and presentations of papers. “The education will be robust, as always. We’ll be focusing on the latest ammonia and CO2 technologies. There is a lot on heat pumps, IIAR sponsored research, and the importance of developing and documenting the PHA programs,” Flynn said.

There will also be sessions in Spanish, and IIAR is continuing to develop resources for Spanish-speaking members. “In our commitment to providing the educational tools and materials to support our membership, IIAR has now translated all three of our Training Video Series to Spanish. This is a major accomplishment as we look to expand our outreach to Spanish-speaking communities, not only within North America but also to South and Central America,” Flynn said.

For the first time, the meeting will feature a RETA CRST certification training class. It will occur Friday, Saturday, and Sunday with testing on Monday.

IIAR has converted the Closing Seminar into a structured Town Hall event where participants will be examining the current state of our industry. “I expect that our members will discuss changes affecting our industry, such as the AIM Act and the EPA’s refrigerant regulations, as well as opportunities that may open up for refrigeration professionals and natural refrigerants,” Flynn said.


Sponsorships sales will occur online, via the our Conference Sponsorship Platform. Sponsors can select their sponsorship, sign the sponsorship contract, and view and pay their invoice online. “General Conference Sponsorships are ongoing, and NRF sponsorships will be available for purchase the week of August 24th,” Rector said. “From now on, we will include NRF sponsors as well as the General Conference Sponsors in the VIP Priority Group for exhibit space and sponsorships signups.”

Like sponsorships, exhibit space sales will occur online, where exhibitors will complete the Exhibit Space Application, and then confirm their choice online, sign the contract, and view/pay their invoice online.

Technomercials are now Product Showcase Presentations. “We will have more opportunities than ever for exhibitors to purchase presentation spots,” Rector said. “These will be sold as part of the exhibit space sales process.”