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Minutes of the 1996 MHA Annual Meeting

March 21 & 22, 1996
Government House Hotel and Conference Center
Charlotte, North Carolina

recorded by Janet Peddycord

1996 MHA Annual Meeting Attendance

Thursday, March 21 Friday, March 22
Tim Custer
Richard Ellison
Jerry Frisch
Lou Frisch
Gary Hart
Korey Hart
Gene Hedin
Lettie Hedin
Larry Lamont
Pat Manley
David Moore
Walter Moberg
Janet Peddycord
Stan Sackett
Leila Nulty-Senf
Norbert Senf
Tom Trout
Rod Zander
Buck Beckett
Lui Zander

Thursday, March 21, 1996 Afternoon Session

The afternoon session convened at 2:00. Jerry Frisch began by relating the testing program that occurred. The Western States Clay Products funded the test at San Rafael at McNear Brick. Three tests were run simultaneously. Jaasma set up a dilution tunnel, Omni used their AES sampler, and Jerry Frisch used his Condor sampler. The wood Jerry brought wasn't dry enough to be used thanks to the rainy weather, and it had to be put on a brick kiln to get dried down to the required 20% moisture content. The new firing protocol chooses from cordwood or 4"x 4" fuel load. The required fuel load is 1.5% of the floor dimension of the unit, multiplied by 7. We are also now allowed to recharge the fuel load once during the test. Thus, if a log rolls off and begins to smoke, you can choose to recharge your fuel load at that time rather than being unable to touch it and have it lower the performance of your unit as tested. Also, the test now goes from when the flue reaches 25 degrees above ambient temperature and then back to 25 degrees above ambient temperature. Since that can take from 18 to 24 hours with a masonry heater, our apparent particulate grams per hour is lower.

Norbert brought up the fact that being environmentally friendly requires user involvement, not a push button approach. Jerry Frisch then related that how the fuel is stacked in the unit is important. He told how the post graduated students attempted to light a fire in a Tulikivi model, by using one piece of wood as the required fuel load. They were surprised when it wouldn't burn. Only testing and education can give us the results we need. Jerry has about $10,000 in equipment and the equivalent of $200,000 worth of testing under his belt because he has done the rebuilding of the heaters himself. He's run over 50 tests on his units using his own equipment, and has built up some expertise and a database. Offering testing facilities for $250 a day, Jerry has a chimney a heater can be linked to, and a forklift available to move the units around. It takes about 24 hours to get the filters dried and weighed, to determine the performance of the unit. He is hoping to get an air duct system "stamped" out of firebrick so it can be used anywhere.

The current ideal is to use 6" to 8" diameter wood. When we started using masonry heaters in the United States, we followed European schedules, which state 4" diameter pieces. Norbert related that the European heaters are smaller than those Stateside, and therefore to operate at peak efficiency, different sized wood must be used. Stan Sackett can't recall ever selling the Tulikivi T1000, the smallest unit of the line. Pat Manley said he cut down on his splitting duties this year when he found out that our heaters were more efficient with the larger pieces, and Jerry Frisch says he quarters 8" to 12" diameter pieces.

Stan Sackett thought that perhaps we should start a heater owner database, so we know where masonry heaters are located. We could start as Masonry Heater club and for a small fee (approximately $30 per year) we could send out a newsletter once or twice a year. It could include reminders to clean the unit in the fall prior to the heating season, articles comparing top burn to bottom burn, and swap recipes for their bake ovens. It would be great publicity, and the owners are eager to share and show off their units to friends. Norbert suggested we start online. He related the story of a client who called him wanting a heater. This client's sister had one. Norbert gave the Web site address to the individual, who saw his sister's heater online when he visited the site. The individual called his sister, and his sister went online to see the picture of her ten year old heater, then sent Norbert a nice letter and shared recipes she'd been using.

Jerry Frisch brought up the subject of the ASTM standard. There are errors in the current version. The headings for Figure 3 and Figure 4 are switched with each other, and the number given in Figure 1 as clearance to combustibles is wrong. The extension in section 5.4.3 wasn't intended to stop sparks, but to limit radiant heat. There were questions as to whom corrections should be directed, and if the standard could be used on the MHA Web site, or if it would violate the copyright.

Stan Sackett brought up the idea that we should use the phrase "efficient masonry fireplace" when speaking of our units, because a building inspector will want to see a UL tag for a "heater", and an insurance agent doesn't want to know that you intend to heat your home primarily by burning wood.

Next, the subject of the 1997 Annual Meeting was broached, and whether we should follow the HPA to Reno next year. Rod Zander proposed that we choose a naturally heated environment (unlike the hotel in which we were holding our meeting!) and have some hands-on sessions at that time. Stan Sackett agreed that coveralls, bricks, and a bucket of "mud" would be much more fun. Norbert Senf felt that if MHA was pushing education, we ought to schedule such hands-on sessions for our membership.

Stan Sackett asked if perhaps we should tie-in with the New Brick Show. Mason contractors could have a heater half built, and then build the rest in a seminar. Also if we had a text forthcoming, MHA could sell it or charge for a training session. Unfortunately, the masonry supply business is reactive instead of proactive, so perhaps this is not the best expo to attend if we only choose one. Norbert Senf said he could relate better to the old Wood Heating Alliance than the Hearth Products Association. Jerry Frisch brought up the National Sweeps convention. He claimed that sweeps eat up hands-on stuff, and would love our heaters.

Grumbling, Rod Zander complained about the lack of "dialog" and hands-on opportunities. He wanted to know if it was necessary to forge an alliance with another organization at all. Gene Hedin motioned that Rod Zander be put in charge of the hands on session, and Norbert Senf seconded the motion, thus the motion was carried!

Rotating training sessions through the regions was recommended by Stan Sackett, who also recommended that we obtain a list of masonry contractors in the selected region and invite them to attend our technical sessions. Norbert mentioned the idea that if membership wasn't a prerequisite to attend the session, MHA might charge $50 for the session, and our members could very well gain a source for intelligent referrals in the future from these now "educated" mason contractors.

Gary Hart mentioned that he thought the National Sweeps Convention would be in Seattle in 1997 in March or April. The members present lofted the idea of holding a seminar at Jerry Frisch's shop a couple of days before this convention on the design and evolution of the heatkit, and have another session a couple of days afterwards.

At this point, Lui Zander voiced that she was hearing two distinct concerns. First was that we wanted and needed to establish training and certification for existing members now; and then perhaps as a five year plan, recruit and train new members. MHA should focus on the importance of what we do for the current membership. Then, using this information as a template for success, build upon it.

Norbert dryly interjected that the downfall has been that MHA makes big plans during the annual meeting, but then there is no follow up. Lui Zander asked if there was someone that contacted the various committees to hold them accountable for their promises, to which Lou Frisch recalled many times she'd tried to get members to accomplish their duties, but couldn't get anyone to do it. Lui Zander suggested we set deadlines.

Discomfited, Rod Zander reminded the members that we had started with meeting locale and agenda, then migrated into training issues again. He wanted to know if we were meeting with HPA because some of the members would be here and thus could come free, or were we here to do it some other way? All the manufacturers were present there in Charlotte, but they were are all busy setting up their booths and not in the MHA meeting. Jerry Frisch told how he'd broadcasted when he was going to be in an area building a heater for 17 days, and only Pat Manley showed up. He, too, questioned the members' commitment. Tim Custer said that he'd set up an impromptu training seminar in addition with a meeting, and even though they were given less than a month's notice, ten guys showed.

Norbert said we were kidding ourselves if we kept following HPA and never did anything. MHA's first priorities should be to membership. The Seattle show is a great opportunity, but are we prepared for 100+ sweeps? That is what he's had to deal with at shows, and with what Jay Hensley writes in SNEWS, we're pretty well known with the sweeps. Gary Hart mentioned that Sleepy Hollow had the Bellfire units and sat on them, but when Copperfield Supply took them to some sweeps conventions and ran seminars, the units starting moving out the door almost faster than they could supply them.

Stan Sackett lamented that without a capitalist movement to drive us, we're more of a soloist without a microphone instead of a huge chorus. At this point, Janet Peddycord moved that we hold our 1997 Annual Meeting in conjunction with the National Sweeps Convention in Seattle. Stan Sackett seconded the motion, and the motion was carried. Gary Hart was going to call his office and find out the exact dates and location of the convention. Jerry Frisch mentioned that he would do a booth at the sweeps' show. Unfortunately, the news came back that the Sweeps' convention was in Portland, not Seattle, and the date would be in late April or early May. It was briefly considered to hold seminars at Mutual Materials, as there are three brickyards within 15 minutes of Portland.

Once again, the certification issue appeared for discussion. Stan Sackett felt there should be three classifications; Class 1 to build kits, Class 2 to hand build a heater with brick, and Class 3 to design and build a masonry heater. For now, he admitted, Class 3 would be difficult to quantify, so MHA should focus on Class 1 and Class 2 certification. David Moore mentioned that we ought to say "training" rather than "certification", since granting certification might cause MHA to be liable in the event a MHA certified mason errs.

Rod Zander says we need to go ahead and do this for members. If it is for us, we should do it for us, on our turf. We could announce it on the Internet Home Page, if we wanted it to be open to others, but there should be a fee for non-members. At this point, Tom Trout brought up the idea of doing the training session at a retreat for non-profit associations called Wild Acres, that would run about $140 per person, per week, all meals and lodging included. Stan Sackett enthusiastically exclaimed that he'd rather be doing that than just talking. Tom Trout then also mentioned that a professor from the University of Maryland would be willing to interview about six or seven members to create roughly 600 questions in an effort to form a skills exam. This would cost approximately $300 per day for three days.

The consensus was to attempt this hands-on session in April or early May of 1997. In the discussion which followed, the members present hashed out a rough agenda. Jerry Frisch said that the actual testing of a unit would take about three hours. Rod suggested that we pay to bring in some other experts, such as Heikki Hyytiainen, Ernst Rath or his son. When Jerry Frisch suggested a four day session, Norbert Senf commented that a program of that length would need some intense evaluation. Members would have to disassemble any heaters built on the site, however, which lead to an aside as to why not create jobs specifically for the training session. The observation was made that it was much easier to find the job and then invite others to come and learn, than to plan a training session around a job that doesn't exist. It was Norbert Senf's suggestion that we go ahead and complete this first training session/annual meeting at the Wild Acres site as a litmus test of our abilities to coordinate such sessions. Then, perhaps MHA could expand to other sites for training.

Rod Zander moved that we have our meeting at Wild Acres, and Tim Custer seconded the motion. The motion was carried. Gene Hedin inquired as to Wild Acres' location, and was informed that it is in Little Switzerland, North Carolina. Tom Trout volunteered to coordinate the set up and agenda of this meeting. Members' consensus was to purchase the plane fare for Heikki Hyytiainen, in the belief that he would be more than willing to participate if we covered that expense.

Norbert Senf inquired as to how many people we should plan to attend, and if non-members were invited, how much they should be charged. Stan Sackett felt that $200 for members to attend the session (covers the room and board, plus incidentals) and $395 for non-members would be reasonable. Rod Zander inquired if it would be best to set up a committee to clarify the where, when and how much of this session. Lou Frisch motioned that Gary Hart, Rod Zander, and Tom Trout be that committee, and Stan Sackett seconded the motion; the motion carried.

Tom Trout claimed the pottery studio would only hold 12 to 15 masons, to which Rod Zander commented that we should keep the session small in the interests of best serving those attending the seminar. Norbert Senf pointed out that a larger meeting would require more planned curriculum, and that the MHA hasn't proven itself capable of such to date. This meeting should be limited to members only, and attempting to motivate the members to show up. Rod Zander motioned that members cover their individual expenses and the MHA covers the costs to get Heikki and seminar materials to the site. Tom Trout seconded the motion, and the motion was carried.

At 5:10, Pat Maley made the motion to adjourn the day's meeting, and Gene Hedin seconded the motion. The meeting adjourned.

Friday, March 22, 1996 Morning Session

The morning session began with a preliminary report from Tom Trout regarding the proposed seminar/ 1997 annual meeting at Wild Acres. He communicated that the management runs sessions either Friday evenings through Sunday mornings, or Monday afternoons through Friday mornings. If family is invited to attend, there must be a corresponding agenda for the family members. The membership tentatively planned to attend April 21 through April 28, 1997. However, the Wild Acres management will not commit to a decision until December of 1996, in all likelihood. It was noted that this will not allow the membership to take advantage of the Saturday night layover discount on airfares, but it was felt that the room and board fees were so reasonable, that any loss of discounts was more than equitable.

Then, the membership sat down to take a preliminary version of the competency test, prepared by Jerry and Lou Frisch. This was followed by a review session. Any items which were stated unclearly, or to which Jerry's proposed answer seemed dubious, were reworked until the membership was satisfied. The meeting was adjourned at approximately 12:30.

Friday, March 22, 1996 Afternoon Session

Elections were held upon the convening of the afternoon session. Jerry Frisch nominated Pat Manley for president, and Tom Trout seconded the nomination. Jerry Frisch nominated Albie Barden for vice president, which was also seconded by Tom Trout. Lou Frisch nominated Norbert Senf as secretary; a nomination seconded by Tom Trout. Lou Frisch then nominated Lui Zander for treasurer, which Pat Manley seconded. Rod Zander then moved that the proposed slate of nominees be accepted as officer for the 1996 to 1998 term, which was seconded by Gene Hedin, and the motion was carried.

Lou Frisch had prepared a tentative budget for the 1996-1997 year. Administration expenses for BIA were slated at $5000, Public Relations was proposed $2000, and the newsletter was allotted $750. Trips were calculated at $900, mostly for Norbert Senf's work with organizations like the AWMA, and Combustion Canada. $500 was budgeted for the 1997 Annual Meeting, and $2000 for the IRS and accountant. This totalled to $11,150. It was noted that dues income for 1996 is only $8500, and that not much more incoming revenue is expected for the year. Either the membership must be increased, which hopefully will occur as lapsed members see the new enthusiasm and direction the MHA is taking; or the budget must decrease in the future. Rod Zander moved that the budget be approved as stated, and Lou Frisch seconded the motion.

Janet Peddycord then distributed a questionnaire to stimulate thought for long range planning. The members noted that to its credit, MHA generates personal connections between heater builders, provides an organized front for the industry, and an impartial information clearinghouse to the public. It was noted that the MHA has a solid product to offer that has hundreds of years of tradition and a safe performance record.

Among some of the difficulties that have habitually been encountered, slow or lack of goal attainment was one of the largest concerns. The members felt that perhaps a lack of organization, including the evidence of lacking parliamentary procedure and AV materials at the annual meeting, was one of the reasons goal attainment was so frustrating and haphazard. Attempted solutions in the past have been follow up phone calls to committee members, and letters to those who have not renewed memberships.

Focusing upon the needs of the MHA membership, the members concluded that a true newsletter was needed to consistently put the MHA and its issues before the membership in a timely fashion. Norbert Senf stated that he was willing to write up minutes and newsletter items, if someone would download and print out the document and ensure its disbursement. Fulfillment was the biggest consumer of time in his publication endeavors. The newsletter should come out four times a year. Janet Peddycord volunteered to send out a Newsbrief on April 22, 1996, as a first effort towards the formation of a newsletter. Tom Trout, Pat Manley, Rod and Lui Zander are to have set up an agenda for the 1997 MHA meeting in time to include in this newsletter.

Another vital need is a method to communicate to each of the members on the processes by which we build heaters, and share this information. At this point, a deadline for investigation of the creation of a training manual was set, in order to let Janet Peddycord know within two weeks what the outcome will be. The members are also to send a list of sources to her, as well, by the end of April, so a preliminary "Yellow Pages" of supplies and suppliers may be compiled and distributed by mid to late May.

Looking into the future, the members present were asked what they wanted to see for MHA in the next 10 years. Lou Frisch mentioned apprenticeships, and a more defined networking of masons. Jerry Frisch said he wanted a construction manual and a chapter to be present in the Masonry Contractors' training guide. David Moore felt the MHA should be actively taking advantage of any technologies that advance heater construction, as well as the potential to develop a permanent school for the craft of masonry heater construction. It was mentioned that the timberframers have a six week course. If they aren't confident enough to build a unit after that time, at least they are educated and know to whom they may turn for construction. Norbert Senf expressed a desire to take advantage of the current interest in green building construction and environmental protection, and thus ride the ground swell of public sentiment to gain more mileage from our efforts.

At this point, 4:20 in the afternoon, the final session of the annual meeting was concluded, and the meeting adjourned. Janet Peddycord is to mail out the MHA By-Laws to the members, which also includes the mission statement. Lou Frisch commented that it was the best meeting ever, and congratulated Pat Manley for all he'd accomplished during his tenure as president.

This page last updated on October 21, 1996
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