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Association Bisnow
October 16, 2008


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Regarding our headline: In the case of the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute, it required the tactical maneuvering of a former Marine. Lieutenant General (ret.) Jack Klimp heads AHRI, which, in January, combined the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI) and the Gas Appliance Manufacturers Association (GAMA). The merger worked, in part, due to good timing, and Jack was pleased to tell us about it from the association's new offices on Wilson Blvd.


Jack says his earlier offers of cooperation (co-locating, combining HR and IT programs), when he was still GAMA president, were rebuffed as too difficult with two presidents. His "window" occurred when the ARI president resigned, and he immediately called his board chair, who formed a steering committee with three former chairs of each organization. The big selling point was similarity in lobbying, and Jack says when members learned the advantage of combined forces, the vote to merge was nearly unanimous. Now AHRI's bigger office on Wilson is home to beefed up government lobbying (11 staffers) and a combined staff of 60 representing companies like Carrier, Trane and YORK.


Jack's miniature statues, such as the Iwo Jima Memorial, commemorate Marine valor. In 2001, as VP for Phoenix House, a foundation with 46 drug rehabilitation offices in New York, Jack was initially worried that the conservative values he learned growing up in Kansas and Nebraska would clash with the liberal organization. What he found was that "people respond to leadership no matter where you are." For the three years before he arrived, Phoenix House had a $1.8 M annual deficit and empty beds. In his first year, he froze executive salaries and redirected attention to quality care and customer relations, resulting in 95% occupancy and a small surplus for staff bonuses.


Dave Calabrese, George Cook III, Henry Hwong, David Acerra, Dave Delaquila, and Jack, who believes "There ain't a lick of difference" in the leadership style he learned in the Marines and that which he implemented in three positions since retiring from the service after 33 years. The story of Jack's arrival at GAMA is one of fortuitous timing: He attended Army Command and General Staff College at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas with former GAMA CEO Evan Gaddis. They also commanded units together during Operation Restore Hope in Somalia. So, when Jack was looking to move closer to his two daughters, and Evan accepted the top post at the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, he told Jack to apply.

Arent Fox
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