AAPEX usually leaves me with at least a three-day fog that lingers after everything has concluded. Some might say this is jet lag from traveling back to the East coast, others would argue that it has something to do with the air being pumped into the casinos. After the fog clears, highlights start coming back in several stages: things like who attended NARSA’s Membership Appreciation Reception, a vendor relationship that was made during the trade show, or the lone good golf shot that was hit during Monday’s golf outing. 

This year was full of memorable moments. The reception room was packed with vendors, owners, and manufacturers from across the world, the AAPEX show floor was booming with fresh faces looking for information, and the golf event was laid out with perfection. 

Over the last two years, the trade show has been slowly ramping up. Each year following Covid, attendance has continued to rise, and this year took us well above previous attendance even in a pre-Covid year. For those of you who are unfamiliar, the AAPEX event is critical to the long-term success of our association, and none of this would have been possible without the help of our home office to put all the wheels in motion. Each year, as soon as AAPEX is over, the floor planning starts for the next year’s event; sponsorships and booth space are immediately being sold, and the organizational period starts to take shape. For NARSA, our responsibility is to create a functioning space within the AAPEX event that displays the best the Heat Transfer industry has to offer. This venue has become the best landscape for vendors, manufacturers, and customers to pace the showroom floor and see everything our association has to offer. Given the last two years poor attendance, this year’s AAPEX was a step in the right direction and certainly the momentum NARSA was hoping for during our current “changing of the guard.” 

Now typically I would love to take this time to embellish on my flawless golf performance by describing in great lengths the amazing shots that I hit, but I have been instructed to keep editorials as close to non-fiction as possible. The golf event at Rio Secco was incredible: not a cloud in the sky, picture perfect weather, and some of the most picturesque landscape I have seen on a Las Vegas golf course since this event began– a perfect combination to be the catalyst NARSA needed to start the week. The sponsors elevated our golf event to include a boxed lunch, refreshments, range time, and golf balls for the round. Without them this would have been another run of the mill tournament, but because of their generosity we have set the standard of what the Seekins/O’Connor cup should look like. The course was far from friendly, and those of us whose drives rarely found the fairway were left scrambling to help our teams.

Nonetheless, the scores were close, and the competition was fierce–both great attributes of a quality golf outing. After play was over, it even included time to hang around the clubhouse to enjoy a day well spent with friends, both new and old, as well as to celebrate the hard work and loyalty of Mark and Sandy Taylor as our Executive team for the last four years with NARSA. After all the scorekeepers’ erasers were confiscated and scores tallied, we escaped to the dining area where we comfortably enjoyed snacks, beverages, and the continuous applause of a job well done. The hefty trophy was hoisted by the winning team, and we were able to fellowship and reminisce over the successful leadership of the International Heat Transfer Association. 

Our association has seen both ends of the spectrum over the last 40 years. It has garnered thousands of members at the peak of the radiator industry and was able to comfortably hold events on the largest stage possible such as concert venues in Nashville, TN or even reserving MGM studios to give us free reign at a Disney theme park. At the other end of this spectrum was witnessing the downward slope of the independent radiator repair shop after the release of the boxed radiator and membership numbers started to decline. Most recently during the Covid pandemic, restrictions on events and gatherings were included, making it more difficult to grow an association. 

These events, both good and bad, lead us to where we are as an association today, and NARSA’s impact on the largest manufacturer to the smallest shop cannot go unnoticed. Since Mark and Sandy’s start as the NARSA Executive team, the mission was always clear: to provide one idea, one opportunity, or one connection for your business. What better person to convey this message than someone who has experienced it firsthand in their own business? Mark has been a trusted ally to NARSA as a board member, president, chair, and finally as Executive Director. He leaves our association in a position poised for growth and the ability to serve our industry for years to come. 

We wish Mark and Sandy the best in their future endeavors, and welcome Doug Shymoniak to fill the big shoes they have left behind. On behalf of the NARSA/IDEA Board of Directors, we thank you both for your support of NARSA and this industry that we love.

Bryan Braswell
NARSA/IDEA President
Rocky Mount Radiator
Rocky Mount, North Carolina

This editorial was originally published in the July/August 2023 issue of The Cooling Journal.