Ever since I can remember, NARSA has always been a ubiquitous presence in my life. My father Luis Duran joined in the 80s as a shop owner, and I can remember the red and blue membership certificates that he proudly displayed in the office at his New Jersey shop. Once a year, I would eagerly await as I returned from a trip to a NARSA convention with loads of cool hats, pens, and various give-aways from the show. As an 8-year-old child, I didn’t quite understand what he was doing on these trips or what NARSA exactly was, but it was obvious that it was important to my father and to the business.
As a teenager, I was excited when my father first brought me along to a NARSA event in Florida. While I don’t remember much about the event, I do remember my dad introducing me to one of his NARSA friends. His name was Rafael Taveras Sr., and he had a radiator factory in the Dominican Republic. My dad had recently started a radiator factory in Puerto Rico without much experience in manufacturing. I continue proudly in my father’s footsteps with this “Ready, Fire, Aim” business philosophy! NARSA quickly became his primary networking platform to learn from others who were doing similar things. My father and Rafael would share technical information as well as tips on where to source products or handle human resources challenges. They visited each other’s facilities on several occasions over the years to exchange ideas and best practices.
Another member of my father’s “Latin America Radiator Factory group” that he met at NARSA events was a gentleman by the name of Luis Ossa. Luis had a factory in Panama and was an engineer trained at the University of Texas. Bringing an engineer’s perspective and knowledge to the group, he was instrumental in sharing know-how and skills. Many of the processes that we still use today in Cooling Systems Caribe came from the technical advice of Luis Ossa. Luis generously shared his time and know-how and even let us send our technicians to Panama for some on the job training. The results of Luis’s training and influence can still be seen in our products today.
While many of these exchanges of knowledge happened 30 years ago, all of our businesses continue to reap the benefits of these relationships forged through the connections made at NARSA. These stories are in no way unique in our organization. It is after all what we are all about. However, this story of friendship and sharing of ideas did not end with my father and his NARSA buddies in the 90s. The tradition has continued to the next generation.
I recently had the privilege of hosting Rafael Taveras Jr. and Alejandro Ossa at our plant in Puerto Rico. Rafael is at the helm of Industria Core in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Alejandro leads Radiadores Panama of Panama City, Panama. We spent the day touring the plant. My team fielded questions and generously shared info with our honored guest. We shared ideas on how we do things at each of our plants and had a great afternoon talking about all things radiator. It was the first time that all three of us had visited one of our facilities at the same time and hopefully not the last. Next time, we hope to include our fathers and make it truly special.
Our businesses have naturally evolved and changed from the original operations founded by our fathers. My father consistently tells me the old business adage that the only thing constant in business is change. One thing, however, has not changed. That is the fact that the second generation still finds value and the need to exchange ideas and knowledge just as our fathers had done 30 years ago. Rafael, Alejandro, and I regularly communicate regarding trends we are seeing in our respective markets or manufacturing techniques that we have recently implemented. This knowledge exchange continues to be invaluable to me and my company just as it was to our fathers before us.
Rafael, Alejandro, and I share the privilege of being able to continue to run and operate our respective manufacturing facilities that our fathers founded. We all share a tremendous sense of pride in what our father’s started from nothing. And we have the honor and duty to grow these businesses upon the foundation that was laid for us over 30 years ago. I feel so fortunate that my father recognized the value of NARSA in the eighties and made the investment of time and money that enabled him to make the connections that continue on for generations to come.
This editorial was originally published in the August/September issue of The Cooling Journal