The winner of this year's HVACR Leader of the Year Award, Kenneth Ball, is well known to readers for his dedication and many years of service to the industry during a career that has spanned more than half a century.
Refrigerant Reclaim Australia (RRA) CEO, Michael Bennett, presented the award to Ball in recognition for his commitment to the development of the HVACR industry over decades.
Ball has worked with associations such as AREMA and CESA, and contributed to the development of licensing and standards. His resume reads like a who's who of companies in this industry from Kelvinator, Carrier and Haden engineering right through to Sigma Industries, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Fujitsu General and Mitsubishi Electric.
Ball began his five-year apprenticeship at the age of 15 as a fitter and machinist.
This was in the early 1960s when refrigeration was part of the trade and Ball was schooled in both ammonia and freon operating equipment.
“My involvement in refrigeration and air conditioning during the apprenticeship enticed me into the mysteries of refrigeration and psychometrics for the rest of my working life,” Ball said.
“I worked with a range of equipment in use at the time from freezer rooms to multi story air conditioning plants and centrifugal chillers.
“I have always enjoyed the diversity of this industry being able to work with so many different products from simple compressors through to highly complex VRF/VRV systems to chillers.”
Ball is a firm believer in continuous learning and would like to see more training and support for technicians.
“We need more funding and incentives but not just for young people, we need to continually update existing operators and trades people,” he said.
"The truth is that without refrigeration and air conditioning the country would grind to a halt and return to the stone ages.”
So if you were president of the world of HVACR what would you change?
“I would remove the ridiculous requirement for refrigeration trade training to be an all-covering course for such a diverse industry,” Ball said.
“Let the applicant decide if they want to work in refrigeration or specialise in a specific area. Instead we need a course to teach the basics for two or three years and then they can choose an area to do further study.
“The government can use some of the millions of dollars collected from the industry to provide training programs with realistic wages.
“Provide training to the older generation, who do not have time for TAFE but possess plenty of great skills from the university of hard knocks.“
So what's next for Ball?
“Retire and enjoy life before it’s too late,” he said.
Now that sounds like a well-deserved plan for a man that has given so much.
When receiving his award, Ball said: “I would like to personally honour and commend the other nominees and suggest to them that to be nominated is in its self an example of the high regard that these persons are regarded in their fields of excellence."