So this is it… my last editorial as NARSA/IDEA President. One thing I can say is that in no way did it go as expected. As NARSA/IDEA’s first and hopefully only pandemic President, my experience was in many ways unique. What should have been two years full of meetings with members and visiting shops and factories was converted into virtually zero travel and lots of zoom calls. I think I can speak for virtually all members in stating that I will not be missing the lack of in-person events that my term in office unfortunately necessitated. However, like all radiator professionals worldwide, we did what we did best and adapted to the new reality.

Early in the pandemic, we decided that we had to do something to attempt to provide value to our members and with little experience, the team at home office put on NARSA/IDEA’s first virtual conference, VISION 20/20. For a first attempt at an online event, I think we put out a respectable product. We also learned a ton about what worked and what didn’t work. We kept at it with several educational webinars each time learning a bit more. We later produced a second virtual conference in Spring 2021. As a result, NARSA/IDEA now possesses a skill set that gives us another tool to provide value to our members worldwide.

The team at the home office also enabled one of my ideas to come to life as “The Solder & Soot Podcast.” As an avid podcast listener, I wanted to explore using the medium not only to share with our members success stories from distinguished entrepreneurs of our industry but also act as a repository of the history of these members well into the future. The podcast has received excellent feedback, and it is one of the accomplishments of the organization during my time as president that I am most proud of. This podcast would not be possible without the help of Linda Skoglund from the home office who produces, edits, and makes two radiator guys sound like we know what we are doing! 

Linda has also been instrumental in the major push we made into various social media platforms during the pandemic. Without the need to concentrate on the logistics of in-person events, Linda was able to increase our footprint dramatically throughout the world of social media. This has given the organization a much larger footprint and recognition worldwide as the leading organization for the heat transfer and diesel emissions industries. We have had members from as far away as Zimbabwe, Brazil, and France join directly because of social media efforts. The Board of Directors has continued its commitment to devote resources into social media outreach to promote the NARSA/IDEA brand as well as grow membership.

I would also like to recognize our Executive Director Mark Taylor, as well as his better half Sandy Taylor, for bringing their knowledge, experience, and organizational skills to NARSA/IDEA. I was fortunate enough to witness Mark and Sandy grow their old company rapidly over nearly 10 years into one of the best run shops in the country and knew what an effective team they made. Sure enough, they brought their work ethic, resilience, and passion to produce a quality product to NARSA/IDEA. Mark implemented EOS (the Entrepreneurial Operating System) within NARSA/IDEA and the organization dramatically improved. The board is now provided with quality and transparent financials during our monthly “Scorecard” meetings. During these meetings, we go over our KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and hold each other accountable for what needs to be done. Mark’s team also implemented quarterly planning sessions that allows the Board to keep on track with the vision of the organization. As we have come to find out through various conversations with other trade groups, these types of tools, structure, and reporting are not very common in organizations of our size.   

The Home Office and the Board really pulled together to bounce back from two years of no events with NARSA/IDEA’s 2022 Spring Conference at Don Hart’s Radiator in Texas. The team put together top-notch programming and attendance exceeded expectations. Mary Margret Miller, NARSA/IDEA’s Business Development Director, exceeded sponsorship expectations, and the show was not only a success as an event, but also financially for the organization. The most disappointing part of my term was not being able to attend this event due to an extremely ill-timed COVID diagnosis. This also meant I was not able to induct my good friend David Bienvenu in the Hall of Fame. That being said, I was left with lots of positive feedback from members and sponsors alike, and it was gratifying to see the end product that the home office and the board worked so hard on.

The NARSA International Tour (NIT) is back this year with a tour of two facilities in the United Kingdom. We will be visiting G&M Radiator in Scotland and Advanced Radiators in England. The NIT holds a special place in my heart as it was an idea I came up with some years ago as a way to make our organization more relevant internationally. The networking and exchange of ideas with members from across the globe is really what the NIT is all about. Once again, Mark Taylor’s team has planned an excellent program, and I hope to see new and old faces on the trip. I encourage our members to be on the lookout for info on NIT Dubai for 2023.

No end to any NARSA/IDEA presidency would be considered successful if you did not feel good about the person you are handing the reins off to. In this aspect, I feel like my presidency has been an overwhelming success with Bryan Braswell taking over the helm. Bryan’s family has a long and storied history in the radiator industry. His company, Rocky Mount Radiator, will be celebrating its 100 year anniversary in 2027. Bryan’s family also has a long tradition of service to the industry. Bryan will be the third Braswell to serve as NARSA President as his grandfather and father both served as NARSA president. While it is obvious that he has the pedigree to serve as NARSA President, the reason I feel so confident that Bryan will be a fine President is his dedication to this industry. Over the past few years, I have come to know Brian for his passion and work ethic in the service of NARSA/IDEA. Bryan has a clear vision of where he believes NARSA/IDEA can go and has a natural ability to connect with people to support this vision and create consensus. I am excited to see where Bryan will lead the organization and cannot wait to support him in this endeavor.  

Finally, I would like to recognize Aaron Morrow, our current chairman. Aaron Morrow has steered this organization through some of the toughest times in its history. Calm, steadfast, and always looking out for the best interest of NARSA/IDEA, Aaron has been a constant source of support during my term. I could never even get through the meeting formalities of Robert’s Rules of Order if it were not for Aaron! Having Aaron around as Chairman made my job as President much more effective.

When I first started getting involved in NARSA, I never even thought I would have the opportunity to become President. Now here I am on the eve of becoming Chairman of the board for the next two years.  I’m looking forward to continuing to contribute to an organization that has been so good to me and my family. I had the opportunity to work with an excellent executive director and his home office team. I was able to serve with the most effective board that I have encountered during my tenure at NARSA. I was guided by a great Chairman. And now I get to hand the reins confidently to our next President. I am truly grateful for the opportunity I had as NARSA/IDEA President and thank the whole NARSA/IDEA community for giving me the opportunity to serve this great organization.

Bobby Duran
NARSA/IDEA President
Cooling Systems Caribe
Aibonito, Puerto Rico

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