I first met Dale Gustavson during an AHR Exposition in the early 1990s while I was a staff editor on Contracting Business magazine. I was sitting in on a meeting of energy gurus who gathered to discuss the many issues facing the HVAC industry at the time. Dale was sitting up front, attentively listening to the conversation, and every once in awhile, in a soft voice, would ask a question or share an idea that dove deep into the topic and often brought side conversations to a standstill.
Later, my publisher introduced Dale to me and he immediately impressed me with his warm smile and friendly personality. He was small in stature but big on knowledge. Dale’s willingness to share everything he knew about the energy industry remains renowned today.
Dale’s Dedication and Commitment
Over the years he became more involved with the magazine and when we decided to launch a new publication dedicated to the energy industry, it was no surprise to me that Dale was named its editorial director. He was most likely instrumental in helping to create it. It became a reality in 1997.
The truth is, this quiet, unassuming man dedicated his entire life to increasing the quality of energy management in the residential and light commercial HVAC markets for more than 30 years. He worked tirelessly to help recruit, train, and equip contractors to be technically competent and quality-driven in their efforts to sell and deliver energy efficiency projects across the country.
Among his many contributions to the industry was his role in helping to establish the Western HVAC Performance Alliance (WHPA). This organization is a group of stakeholders from California that also included others from around the U.S., dedicated to help California implement its Long Term Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan.
Western HVAC Performance Alliance
I attended the very first meeting in California that led to the formation of this group, as did many other HVAC Industry representatives from trade associations, manufacturers, distributors, and more.
Dale worked tirelessly behind the scenes to help guide those talks which eventually led to the launching of the alliance. He then managed the WHPA and continued to help with project work through his company — Better Buildings Inc. — from 2009 to 2016.
In an article written by past WHPA Board member and Council of Advisors Chair, Dominick Guarino for Contracting Business in 2014 (ncilink.com/WHPA), Dominick said, “Since the WHPA’s inception, Dale has had the dogged determination, vision, and stubbornness to make sure this group would continue to work together and flourish.”
He never looked for recognition. He never looked for glory. His mission was to help guide and improve the industry and he always put the work and the people before his own needs. The result has been the betterment of both the energy and HVAC industries.
He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease many years ago, yet continued to work and help others throughout the industry.
Dale Gustavson passed away on September 28, 2020. He was 73 years old.
The industry lost a great teacher, thinker, and leader. He will be missed.