The Radiant Panel Association's Membership Committee noted impressive gains in membership over the past year.

The Radiant Panel Association's Membership Committee noted the association's impressive gains in membership over the past year but mulled ways to get more contractors involved.

The committee met May 14 during RPA's conference and trade show in Rosemont, Ill.

The group now has 524 contractors, 82 wholesalers, 75 trade associates, 43 suppliers and 42 associate suppliers. A supplier is a manufacturer of radiant tubing or panels. An associate supplier is a manufacturer of ancillary products such as boilers.

After considerable discussion, the committee members decided that wholesaler counter displays with a pocket containing membership forms would be the best way to reach more contractors. Suggested wording would say that the wholesaler is a proud member of RPA and that contractors should join, too. RPA Executive Director Larry Drake noted that RPA already has a counter display, which is blank with a plastic sleeve to insert sheets of text. Lochinvar Corp.'s Mike Lahti said he would develop the advertising copy for the display.

In a separate meeting, the RPA's marketing committee decided to reach beyond wholesalers and contractors to advertise directly to consumers. Within the next three months, the RPA plans to place small ads in consumer magazines.

The ads would carry the RPA's "Discover Radiant Comfort" along with its Web site address ( A member of the committee suggested that the ads also carry the RPA's 800-number for interested consumers who may not be online yet.

In another Internet-related initiative, the marketing committee discussed putting a "virtual trade show" on its Web site. The idea was to take photos of exhibitors' booths May 15 at the RPA's trade show. On the Web site would be thumbnail shots that could be enlarged by interested visitors.

The virtual trade show would further build consumer awareness of RPA members and activities as well as raise money. The marketing committee discussed charging manufacturers a fee to have the photo of their booths appear on the Web site.