The breakfast was well-attended and SAIRAC members, young and old, got together to catch up before the FRIGAIR exhibition opened at 09:00. The ASHRAE short course presenters were also in attendance, as well as the international visitors from Eurovent, to name a few.
Grant Laidlaw, SAIRAC president, officially welcomed everyone to the breakfast before the centre chairman handed over their awards.
“The air-conditioning and refrigeration industry forms an integral part of the economy and is found in many sectors and sub-sectors in South Africa and indeed Africa. In turn, SAIRAC forms an integral part of our industry,” said Laidlaw in his opening address. “As we stand here and look around, we can be proud of what we as an institute have achieved, for the FRIGAIR expo and the conferences belong to SAIRAC.”
“Globalisation has brought with it technological changes. We as an institute and indeed as a country need to keep pace to secure food stability and maintain quality for the entire population, refrigeration represents a critical area in the maintenance of the cold chain,” said Laidlaw. “In the HERVAC space, high-quality, energy efficient systems and products, introduction of innovative design and technological solutions, and their efficient application in industrial, commercial and domestic buildings and residential housing is paramount in taking us forward.”
Over the course of three days, the FRIGAIR Expo and conference programmes will deliver the most valuable and comprehensive business-to-business networking event serving the HERVAC industry, said Laidlaw. “Companies that participate in the event gain a high level of brand recognition and targeted business development opportunities in front of key buying audiences involved in industry.”
Laidlaw also mentioned ASHRAE’s three short courses. He later handed gifts to the three international ASHRAE lecturers to acknowledge, on behalf of SAIRAC, what they are doing for education in our industry. All three lecturers were in attendance: Daniel Koenigshofer, Dr Tom Lawrence and Dr Hesham Safwat accepted their gifts from Laidlaw.
“These courses offer us the unique opportunity to gain from international leaders and academics in the field. Moving forward, I feel expanding the conference side of FRIGAIR is now viable,” said Laidlaw.
He also announced that ASHRAE will start a chapter in South Africa at the end of July. “SAIRAC will forge a working relationship with ASHRAE which will benefit both institutions and industry as a whole. SAIRAC council and the newly formed chapter will map out the best possible path that will maximise the opportunities created,” he said.
Laidlaw informed members about the free-to-attend SAIRAC seminar programme taking place at FRIGAIR as well as the first-ever ATMOsphere networking event to be held that afternoon; he invited everyone to attend.
“In overview, the stage is set for a fantastic FRIGAIR, perhaps the best one ever held!” he said. “I read somewhere that ‘FRIGAIR is where old friendships are rejuvenated and new ones forged’. May FRIGAIR 2018 continue in this wonderful tradition.”
After Laidlaw’s speech, several of the regional SAIRAC chairmen took to the podium to present Special Meritorious Service awards to industry doyens from their region who were nominated for their commitment and service to the industry.
Deon Schmidt, Port Elizabeth centre chairman, was up first to hand a special meritorious service award to Cedric Knottenbelt.
He was followed by Cyril Macquet-Maurel, Durban centre chairman, who presented the award to Chris Elston.
In a surprise for even Laidlaw himself, Johannesburg centre chair Jaco Pieterse presented Laidlaw with the Mike Veldon gold medal award, which moved the president greatly.
Last but not least, Laidlaw presented a life vice president award to John Ackermann for his contribution to the association and the industry.
After the formalities, everyone enjoyed a hot breakfast and a catch up before day two of FRIGAIR commenced at 09:00.