SAIRAC History - 2019

In The Beginning...

It takes people to make things happen. These people come from different backgrounds, different upbringing, different schools and education. In any group of people sharing a common desire will be leaders, the visionaries and motivators, the implementers and doers, the practical, the academic and the followers. All of these are essential in the formation of a common interest body. 

On the 28th of February 1951, a visionary scientists called together a group of like-minded people and implemented a vision that we still recognize today. It said,

  • a vision without task is the dream
  • a task without the vision is drudgery
  • a vision with a task is the hope the world

The vision was to form an institute of refrigeration and share knowledge. The task set for the steering committee required the doers to produce:

  • a constitution
  • aims and objectives
  • a generally agreed upon plan of action to launch the Institute

The hard work started...

A steering committee was formed, consisting of the following persons:

  • E.G. Reynolds (Chairman) A.B. Cumbers
  • R. Bowie (Vice Chairman) T.A. Miller
  • H. Challis (Secretary) K.A. Oettle
  • L. Campbell (Treasurer) B.W. Ross
  • C.E.B. Cooper 

They began working on a new Institute and on the 17th July 1951, the South African Institute of Refrigeration (SAIR) was officially inaugurated at the Hotel Bordeaux, Cape Town, with 41 members.

At this inaugural meeting, the following committee was elected:

Dr G.M. Dreosti (President) C.E.B. Cooper
E.G. Reynolds (Vice President) A.B. Cumbers
R. Bowie (Vice President) T.A. Miller
H. Challis (Secretary) K.A. Oettle
L. Campbell (Treasurer) J.H.B. Steenkamp
J.E. Kinksburgh S.J.v.N Cillie

The visionary...


Dr. G.M Dreosti was a scientist and his interest was primarily in the food industry and its preservation by means of refrigeration. He had an engineering degree and in 1930 obtained his doctorate in engineering physics at the University of Utrecht.

He was a member of many institutions and societies, always willing to share his knowledge and learn from others. His dedication and commitment to totally involving himself in the formation of official bodies, where he believed they were essential to serve the sector, were shown in both SAIRAC and the Food Science Society of South Africa. He had over 300 papers published, on subjects in the fields of refrigeration, dehydration, canning and many more.

The Institute grows...

In March 1961 the Port Elizabeth Centre of SAIR was started. T.F. Longe and 

L. Broderick were elected Chairman and Vice Chairman respectively. Around this time it became obvious that air conditioning had an important role to play. Members and industry where making the significant and close relationship between the two.

In July 1962 SAIR broadened its focus and the South African Institute of Refrigeration and Air Conditioning was born. As a prelude to SAIRAC's arrival, Cape Town Centre was formed in July 1961, opening the way for a national body to be created. The first Cape Town Centre committee consisted of:

  • L.Ginsburg (Chairman) W.W. Boyes
  • C.A.Johnson (Vice Chairman) A.P. Alder
  • L. Campbel N.C. Humphries
  • G. Garzolini J.P. Trautmann

The Transvaal (now Johannesburg) Centre was formed on the 25 July 1963, with Drs. Denkhaus and Hodgson as Chairman and Vice Chairman respectively.
The Natal (now KwaZulu-Natal) Centre was formed officially in 1967 with R.F. March and G. Alder as Chairman and Vice Chairman respectively.


Over the years, SAIRAC continues to focus on its objective of providing on-going education for its members. Formally structured, properly researched, scientific and technical papers are regularly presented at meetings in all Centres.

In 1968, to provide for education in a print form, the Heating, Air-conditioning and Refrigeration Journal (HAR) was launched as the official mouth-piece of the Institute and published most of the papers presented at meetings across South Africa. It is now called the RACA Journal.

The FRIGAIR Conference in 1980 was the start of a long history of conferences and exhibitions which is the highlight of the SAIRAC and Industry’s calendar.

1992 Frigair Conference, Goodwood Show Grounds, Cape Town: 09 - 12 September 1992 - jointly organised with SARDA and at the same as a Cooling Expo (South Africa's first stand-alone refrigeration & air conditioning exhibition)

1994 Frigair Exhibition & Conference, Durban: 16 -18 March 1994

1996 Frigair Exhibition & Conference, Johannesburg: 06 - 08 March 1996

1998 Frigair Conference, Cape Town Civic Centre: 04 - 06 March 1998 with RAC Africa Exhibition in Culemborg Exhibition Centre.

2000 Frigair Exhibition & Conference, Johannesburg: 08-10 March 2000

2002 Frigair Exhibition & Conference, Gallagher Estate, Johannesburg: 13 -15 March 2002

2004 Frigair Conference, Cape Town International Convention Centre & Cooling Africa Exhibition: 02 -04 June 2004

2007 Frigair Exhibition, Gallagher Estates, Johannesburg

2010 Frigair Exhibition, Nasrec, Johannesburg: 08 - 11 September 2010

2012 Frigair Exhibition, Nasrec, Johannesburg: 15 - 17 August 2012

2015 Frigair Exhibition, Gallagher Estates, Johannesburg: 03 - 05 June 2015

2018 Frigair Exhibition, Gallagher Estates, Johannesburg: 06 – 08 June 2018

SAIRAC launched the DREOSTI MEMORIAL LECTURE in 1998 in memory of and to honour the outstanding achievements and leadership of its founder. Previous lectures include:

1998: “Global Warming - Considerations for the Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Industry” Presenter: Robert Heap President of the Institute of Refrigeration (UK) & President Cambridge refrigeration Technology

2001: “Ammonia, The Natural Refrigerant for Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Beyond the 21st Century” Presenter: Prof Wilbert (Will) Stoecker, Prof Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering, University of Illinois

2004: “Carbon Dioxide as a Natural Refrigerant for the Future” Presenter: Andy Pearson, Chartered Engineer with Honours in B.Sc & B.Engineering, Board Member of International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration, CEO Star Refrigeration Ltd. Glasgow

2009: “Cutting Energy Bills with Natural Refrigerants is Not that Costly” Presenter: Monika Witt, Chairperson of Eurammon and Managing Director of TH. Witt

2013: “Can Intelligent Buildings Provide Alternative Approaches to Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning of Buildings” Presenter: Prof. Derek Clements-Croome, Prof Emeritus in Architectural Engineering at Reading University, Chairs the CIBSE Natural Ventilation and Intelligent Buildings Group,Editor of the Intelligent Buildings International Journal

2019: “Issues Around Cooling Sustems with R290 as an alternative Refrigerant with a very low gloal warming potential” Presenter: Dr Volkmar Hasse, PhD in Applied Biology from University of Giessen, Retired in 2018. Last post was GIZ senior programme director of the Chinese-German Low Carbon Urban Development Programme, based in China

In keeping with electronic technology, SAIRAC launched the Technical Data manual in CD format in 2004. The third version was launched in February 2011.

SAIRAC hosted the first ‘Meet and Greet’ cocktail party the evening before the opening of FRIGAIR 2010. At the 2012 ‘Meet and Greet’ cocktail party the HERVAC video was launched. Its intent is to showcase what our Industry can offer to all fields of learners, and encourage them to join the Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Industry

Past Presidents… (updated: 30 September 2019)

 1951-52  *  Dr Guido M Dreosti     1986-87  Mr B M Richardson
 1952-53  *  Dr G M Dreosti    1987-88  Mr B M Richardson
 1953-54  *  Dr G M Dreosti    1988-89  Mr P Steynor
 1954-55  *  Dr G M Dreosti    1989-90  Mr P Steynor
 1955-56  *  Dr G M Dreosti    1990-91  Mr S E Davison
 1956-57  *  Mr K A Oettle    1991-92  Mr S E Davison
 1957-58  *  Dr G M Dreosti    1992-93  Mr R E Williams
 1958-59  *  Mr C E B Cooper    1993-94  Mr R E Williams
 1959-60  *  Mr C E B Cooper    1994-95  Mr J L Stevens
 1960-61  *  Mr K A Oettle    1995-96  Mr J L Stevens
 1961-62  *  Mr  W W Boyes    1996-97  Mr J P Ackermann
 1962-63  Mr G M Dreosti ( 1962 - SAIRAC)    1997-98  Mr J P Ackermann
 1963-64  Mr K A Oettle    1998-99  Mr M Braun
 1964-65  Mr C A Johnson    1999-2000  Mr M Braun
 1965-66  Mr L Ginsburg    2000-01  Mr P Burke
 1966-67  Mr L Ginsburg    2001-02  Mr P Burke
 1967-68  Mr L Ginsburg    2002-03  Mr D Truscott
 1968-69  Dr T Hodgson    2003-04  Mr D Truscott
 1969-70  Dr T Hodgson    2004-05  Mr AG Curry
 1970-71  Dr T Hodgson    2005-06  Mr AG Curry
 1971-72  Dr T Hodgson    2006-07  Mr A van der Merwe
 1972-73  Dr T Hodgson    2007-08  Mr Piet le Roux
 1973-74  Mr P Worthington-Smith    2008-09  Mr Piet le Roux
 1974-75  Mr P Worthington-Smith    2009-10  Mr Piet le Roux
 1975-76  Mr R C Moffat    2010-11  Mr Mike Hurrie
 1976-77  Mr R C Moffat    2011-12  Mr Mike Veldon
 1977-78  Mr R E Marsh    2012-13  Mr M Veldon
 1978-79  Mr T Cowgill    2013-14  Mr John Ackermann
 1979-80  Mr T Cowgill    2014-15  Mr. John Ackermann
 1980-81  Mr B A Logan    2015-16  Mr. Grant Laidlaw
 1981-82  Mr B A Logan    2016-17  Mr. Grant Laidlaw
 1982-83  Mr J P J Trautmann    2017-18  Mr. Grant Laidlaw
 1983-84  Mr J P J Trautmann    2018-19  Mr. La Grange
 1984-85  Mr W R Scott    2019-20  Mr. La Grange
 1985-86  Mr W R Scott      




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