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VASA celebrates 25 years in style

25th anniversary VASA Wire & Gas conference a huge success

VASA’s 25thanniversary Wire & Gas conference was a resounding success, with more than 150 delegates travelling to the Marriott Surfers Paradise Resort & Spa on Saturday August 4 for the quarter-century celebration Gala Dinner.

Overwhelmingly positive feedback was received from delegates, presenters, sponsors and trade show exhibitors.

Founded in 1993 at the same Marriott Surfers Paradise Resort & Spa where this year’s Wire & Gas conference was held, VASA has become the Australasian peak industry body for those working in automotive air-conditioning, electrical, and thermal management.

Speaking at the Gala Dinner, VASA president Ian Stangroome paid homage to people who had shaped the association, and greatly influenced the industry it represents, over the years.

Mr Stangroome highlighted VASA’s founding board, made up of president Mark Mitchell and directors Glen Watkinson, John Blanchard Jr, Ralph Cadman and Paul Robinson, along with a long list of other industry figures.

On the night, John Blanchard Jr received the prestigious VASA Pioneer Award, which he accepted in his capacity as CEO and Managing Director of CoolDrive Auto Parts and a founding director of VASA, as his parents John Sr and Shirley, looked on from the audience.

“It gives me great pleasure to award John the VASA Pioneer award for 2018,” said Mr Stangroome. “He is an inspiration to fellow members, and an honoured VASA ambassador.”

A VASA Recognition Award and Life Membership was awarded to David Jackson, a former VASA director who helped the association form strong, enduring connections with kindred organisations and expanded the scope of industry sectors it represents.

Former VASA director and Sanden International Australia managing director Mark Padwick also received Life Membership of the association.

Mark Mitchell delivered a presentation about the VASA history project that aims to chronicle the air conditioning installation, maintenance, wholesaling and manufacturing eras of the 1950s to the 1990s, and secured industry funding for this book and documentary to progress to the next stage.

Around 100 people engaged in a comprehensive education, training and networking program spanning the Wire & Gas weekend that began with a Friday night cocktail party among nine exhibitors in the trade show area, followed by keynote addresses from Redarc Electronics managing director Anthony Kittel and Rachael Sheldrick AKA The Workshop Whisperer.

Inspiration from these sessions was then made actionable with expert seminars on trending topics including hybrid drivetrains (delivered by Bosch technical trainer Scott Daly), hi-tech diesel emissions systems (delivered by OEM-approved technical trainer Peter Trees) and flammable air-conditioning refrigerants (with Refrigerant Reclaim Australia General Manager Michael Bennett), plus ways of making the most of online reviews and booking systems in order to gain new customers (courtesy of AutoGuru founder Eden Shirley).

Practical sessions about electrical modifications to the Ford Ranger (Peter Trees), Cummins heavy-duty diesel engines (VASA director Darrel Hursey) and diagnosing modern automotive air-conditioning systems (Grant Hand) also took place, with a closing address by VASA director Mark Mitchell about the cold chain’s role in reducing the food waste epidemic.

The aim was to inspire delegates to take their businesses and careers to the next level with an understanding of industry trends and the skills to start profiting from this newfound knowledge on their first day back at work.

Wire & Gas 2018 attracted a high level of industry sponsorship, with Sanden the event’s diamond partner while Adrad, JAS Oceania and Ashdown-Ingram took out platinum packages with naming rights to the Gala Dinner, Cocktail Party and training respectively. Gold sponsors comprised A-Gas, Behr Hella Service, Burgaflex, CoolDrive Auto Parts, Opteon Refrigerants and Unicla, Refrigerants Australia and Refrigerant Reclaim Australia were Silver sponsors, and Ariazone and Redarc were trade show exhibitors.

“VASA has successfully facilitated a platform for high-quality learning and training and has an enviable record of providing industry-leading training events for our membership – training which is diverse and not readily available elsewhere,” said Mr Stangroome.

“We continue to represent the industry at Federal and State government levels and on the board of the ARC, to ensure the voice of the industry is heard when and where it matters and to make a difference. Wherever mobile air conditioning, auto electrical and cooling technicians’ interests need to be represented, VASA is there.”

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