June, 1944. That was the month that marked the beginning of the end to the Second World War. It was in June that the Allies began Operations Neptune and Overlord, which culminated with the D-Day landings in Normandy, France. To quote Charles Dickens, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
In the midst of the uproar, in Cleveland, OH, a small trade magazine named The Refrigeration Industry was born. This magazine was dedicated to the men and women responsible for the systems necessary to keep food fresh on board U.S. Naval ships, military bases, and right here in the U.S. of A.
Sixty-five years later, this magazine has evolved into the publication you read today. Technologies have changed, but the basic premise of that ancestor to ContractingBusiness.com remains the same as the mission statement written by then-publisher Irving B. Hexter in that first issue: To provide an interesting, timely, and informative magazine that will answer some of your problems.
It seems appropriate that in 2009, this June issue's theme is on Total Comfort — something that this industry first moved toward in the 1950s on the coat tails of the Korean War. In those days, air conditioning wasn't a necessity yet, but comfort became the driving force for buying it. In the mid 1950s, a gentleman named Ralph Lee of the Trane Company told the editors of this publication that “What we're really talking about is the art of climate control for human comfort.”
So from refrigeration to comfort, we've evolved into an industry that today operates under the umbrella of sustainable energy efficiency and environmental responsibility.
In honor of our birthday, and to highlight the milestones for this industry during ContractingBusiness.com's tenure in the last six and a half decades, here is a summary of industry accomplishments to celebrate:
1940s: • The Refrigeration Industry is born • Mechanical air conditioning makes its debut in movie houses • Freon is developed and becomes the most cost effective and safe refrigerant in the market • Packaged vertical air conditioners make the scene, as do hermetic compressors. 1950s: • The service business for refrigerators and freezers begins in earnest • Refrigerated cases for the grocery store and supermarket became the rage • Willis Carrier, one of the fathers of modern air conditioning, dies. 1960s: • The largest residential and commercial new construction boom of all time begins • A simplified method for calculating heat loss and gain was introduced • ARI begins equipment certification • The phrase, “Total Comfort System” was coined — first by Westinghouse, then by Lennox. • 1970s: • Energy shortages and escalating fuel costs • A re-commitment to the idea of “comfort” • The birth of the U.S. Department of Energy • The rise of the Design/Build delivery method • Fiber glass ductwork invades the market • The first wrinkles of the ozone hole invade the public consciousness. 1980s: • The commercial new construction boom ends and we see the rise of the service industry that still rules today • Load management controls, facility systems controls, and electronics become keys to system efficiency • New technologies, such as those found in the Lennox Pulse Furnace, are introduced • Scroll compressors are introduced into commercial and residential air conditioners • Introduction of computers, plasma cutters, and the Internet • The magazine becomes Contracting Business.
Star Date: 6.5 Decades
The prelude to our troubles in the Middle East began with Operation Desert Storm in the early 1990s. We also faced the prelude to our current banking crises with the savings and loan fiasco, and viable construction financing began drying up. The idea behind the Design/Build delivery method evolved into something that included service — Design/Build/Maintain — as service became the largest and most profitable sector in the HVACR industry. This story of our sixth decade can be found on ContractingBusiness.com in the resources section.