ABOUT OUR FOUNDER
In January 2010 - Richard L. Gilbert was given a Lifetime Achievement Award from ASHRAE
Mr. Richard L. Gibert has been involved with our HVAC industry for more than 55 years and has been part of major Los Angeles area development with more than 11,300 projects as engineer-of-record. Presently, he is the CEO of California Energy Designs.
Dick was born on April 15, 1939 in Los Angeles, at St. Vincent's Hospital at 3rd and Alvarado, an only child. In 1945 the family moved from Los Angeles to La Crescenta where he spent the next 14 years.
He was very good at mechanical things and had a 1949 Ford as his first car, which he customized. At Glendale High School, and Glendale College he was on the track team and lettered each year in high jump and pole vault. His summer jobs included messenger boy for the Los Angeles Stock Exchange, blue print machine operator, drill press operator, and bus mechanic. Also, Dick and his 2 best high school buddies John Sundahl and Ted Sirken started a fraternity called the Marquis, which is still in existence, 60 years later.
At age 20, he married his high school sweetheart, had a daughter the next year, and moved to San Luis Obispo, CA, where he received his bachelors degree in "Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Engineering" with honors. He worked his way thru school by working as a bus driver/tour guide at the Hearst Castle at San Simeon, CA, and he managed the Laundromat in Cayucos for free rent.
He joined the student chapter at Cal Poly in the winter of 1960/61, and graduated in 1963. He belonged to Tau Beta Pi, the honor engineering fraternity.
His senior project was to rebuild an old Trion Electrostatic Precipitator and run efficiency tests on tobacco smoke. A high-light was the design and construction of an ice rink in the A/C Department Patio and he had Miss San Luis Obispo perform on the ice. He used 2 chillers in a cascade arrangement to provide the chilled brine to cool the ice. He learned how to weld short aluminum nipples to a 3" diameter manifold using eutectic welding rods. Also, he learned how to modify the rink with shade and hay bale sides to lower the effect of solar radiation and convection currents.
To supplement his income, because he got no help from his parents, his father having died in his sophomore year, he worked as a commercial fisherman out of Morro Bay and dove for abalone for food.
At graduation he received job offers from Dunham Bush, Carrier and American Air Filter. He chose American Air Filter as a sales engineer in the Los Angeles Office at a salary of $575/month. About that time a second child, Curtis, was born. American Air Filter or AAF was a very good company to start working in the industry as they had 3 separate lines of products: HVAC, Filtration, and Dust-Collectors. Each of the 3 product lines were very complete, and he sized coils, air handlers, etc. without the aid of computers.
They had half a dozen salesmen in the air conditioning/filtration end of things, but only 1 in the dust control department. He could see that there were lots of folks who knew HVAC, but few who knew the air pollution part of the business.
So when the dust collection department gentleman left AAF, he called soon after, and asked Dick if he wanted to join him at the Pangborn Division of the Carborundum Co. He had become a big fish in a little pond.
For the next 3 years he was in charge of sales for the Southwestern United States. In general the work consisted of conceptual design, sales, supervision of equipment procurement and installation of air moving and air filtration equipment for mining, metallurgy, power generation, chemical, wood working, grain, and aerospace industries.
Working in this capacity included many dealings with various local, state, and federal agencies regarding pollution control laws and regulations. Direct involvement with the Los Angeles AQMD occurred during dealings with Southwest Steel, Kaiser Steel, Ameron Steel, Lockheed, and Torrance Tubing. He also collaborated with the APCD in San Francisco, Sacramento and San Diego, California, as well as in the states of Washington and Colorado. During this time, he also served on the ANSI Z-9 subcommittee on exhaust standards for the foundry industry.
During this period and the ensuing 6 years for the Air Preheater Division of Combustion Engineering Company he traveled to every state in the U.S. In order to get around to some of the local projects in the Southern California desert areas he took flying lessons, but it turned out that driving was still the best way to go.
The primary role of his position as Regional Manager was the management of environmental/air quality related activities. Numerous presentations to non-technical and regulatory bodies regarding sensitive, controversial, and topics unique to this industry were called for in this position.
He was in charge of placing company representatives in all major market areas in thirteen western states. After the representatives were selected and in place, they had to be trained in the application and sale of bag houses, fume incinerators, scrubbers, solid waste incinerators, and heat recovery equipment. Thereafter, he supplied continual training, technical support in the application of equipment, and formal presentations of air pollution control devices and solid waste handling equipment for jobs in mining, smelting, cement, can plants, power plants, paper mills, lumber mills, etc.
Major sales/technical presentations were made to ARCO/C. F. Braun, Colorado Shale Oil Recovery Plant ($20,000,000 worth of air pollution and process equipment); Otter Tail Power/Bechtel Corporation ($400,000 for a coal handling dust collection system); ARCO/R. M Parsons (for a $100,000 incinerator for camp waste along the Alaskan pipeline).
Over the years he has served on the Board of Directors of the local chapters, been Chairman of the Annual Technical Seminar, Title 24 Technical Committee and Chairman of the Installation of Officers Dinner.
Owning his own business has allowed him more flexible work hours and free time than if he had been working for someone. He has had the pleasure of traveling extensively. Several years ago, Dick and his wife took a private tour with another couple to explore the 7 wonders of the world. The tour lasted 30 days and covered over 30,000 miles and took them to Cairo for the pyramids, Kenya for the great game migration, India for the Taj Mahal, China to see the Great Wall and the Beijing Olympics, Machu Picchu, Peru; Galapagos Islands, Ecuador and the Grand Canyon. He has traveled to 99 countries and plans to visit a few more to complete his bucket list of 100.
Noteworthy projects to name a few, include ascertaining the need for and designing of a contaminated soil/remediation fume incineration system for EnviroPro in Chatsworth, medical equipment assembly area ventilation system for Hudson R. C. I. in Ensenada (Mexico), 45-ton cooling system for pharmaceutical clean rooms at Hycor Biomedical in Garden Grove, an air conditioning system for a heart monitor manufacturing area at Medical Data and Electronics in Sun Valley, clean rooms for Amgen Pharmaceuticals in Thousand Oaks, and SpaceX in Hawthorne, paint spray booths ventilation for the Boeing facility in Long Beach, process piping for Rocketdyne in Chatsworth, a sawdust collection system for Terry Lumber in Simi Valley, exhaust systems for Rosen Motors' machine shop in Encino, environmental quality control for an engine test room at Capstone Turbine in Reseda, and trouble-shooting the existing scoreboard cooling of the left field scoreboard at Dodger Stadium and the heating, plumbing and fuel distribution for 505 housing units on Adak Island, Alaska for the U.S. Navy.
Besides work, he finds time for car shows in his '41 Ford street rod and travel, he spends some of his spare time at his lodge in Big Bear and enjoys fishing and hunting and has many trophy mounts. Also, Dick and his wife have been foster parents for a number of teenage foster children, the last of which have been reunited with their real parents. It has been a very rewarding experience.
Dick continues as CEO of his California Energy Designs as that is more rewarding and fun than anything else even after 55 years in the business.