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When I assumed the Chair role at HRAI, I inherited a well-managed association with a solid financial foundation, a growing membership base, growing satisfaction levels, and strong and capable association staff. While I had a few things I was hoping to accomplish during my time as Chair, I was expecting a relatively peaceful year. I was eager to foster relationships with other associations, to further grow membership, invest even more into government relations, and to digitize our industry education offerings.  And, of course, I was looking forward to participating in CMPX 2020.

Things have changed.  We now live in unprecedented times.

Like most industries in Canada and around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has hit the HVACR industry hard, though admittedly not as hard as other sectors like hospitality and tourism which may never recover to past levels of activity.

To better understand the impacts of COVID-19 on the HVACR sector, HRAI surveyed members in April.  The survey asked about the immediate, short-term impacts of the pandemic on business operations as well as member perspectives on future impacts. We received 185 responses.

When asked how much their business revenue declined year-over-year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, 67% of respondents reported a greater than 30% decline and 27% reported a more than 60% decline.  Only 6.2% reported no decline in revenue at all but, at the opposite extreme, 8.6% of members have seen over 90% declines.  When it comes to layoffs, almost 60% reported laying off fewer than 30% of their employees and almost half of this group has not laid anyone off.  However, another 20% of companies reported laying off more than 60% of their employees.

Members were also asked to rate on a scale from zero to 100 their level of concern about the long-term viability of their company.  The average response to this question was 54, indicating a “moderate” level of concern, but the distribution of responses shows quite a wide variation in attitudes. About a quarter of members rated their level of concern below 20 on the scale, but 24% reported a higher than 80 score and another 24% scored over 60.

These numbers tell us that, despite the industry’s status as an essential service, members are enduring some hardship and have significant concerns about their future. Ours is a resilient industry, however, and I am confident that we will emerge from these difficult times stronger than ever.  And I believe HRAI will play an important role in helping the industry to find a path forward to renewed prosperity.  

Looking forward, HRAI remains committed to representing our sector with government leaders. In these difficult times, HRAI is especially focusing on engaging with governments across the country regarding how best to reignite the economy when the time comes.  

We’re pleased that the federal government has clearly indicated to HRAI that it remains committed to its 2019 campaign promises regarding climate change and its GHG reduction targets.  There is an expectation that economic stimulus programs will include a significant emphasis on incentivizing expenditures on home energy retrofits and building upgrades with a focus on energy-efficient and low-carbon technologies. This is good news for the HVACR sector. 

Provincial/territorial governments are expected to pursue similar programs in the drive to stimulate economic activity. In April the Ontario government announced its Jobs and Recovery Committee, which is tasked with developing and implementing a recovery plan.  HRAI will be working hard to ensure that the design, timing, and rollout of stimulus programs will meet the needs of the HVACR industry.  This will be a major focus in the months ahead.

In addition to our government relations activities, HRAI pivoted quickly with training and education efforts to deliver an expanded array of online courses.  For those able to participate virtually, HRAI’s staff is working hard to provide opportunities to upgrade credentials and to ensure your staff has the necessary training.

More than ever, the HRAI team has been focused on communicating with members and stakeholders at all levels to ensure the needs of the HVACR sector are met. Between virtual meetings, news releases, an expanded newsletter, webinars, and old fashioned phone calls, HRAI is engaging with and representing members on many fronts.

I am proud to say that HRAI has shown its true value to members over the past several months, as we have collectively tried to navigate the uncharted waters that we’ve been facing as an industry.

In closing please feel free to reach out to our HRAI team or myself if you have any questions, concerns, or ideas on how the association can make a difference for our industry.

Spring will quickly turn into summer so enjoy the warmer weather with your family and continue to stay safe. 

Sincerely,

Dennis Kozina

HRAI Chair