Founded in 1965, the Refrigeration School, Inc. (RSI) has shifted from a small family business to a prominent HVAC and refrigeration school. Although it has expanded significantly from its beginnings as a family business, RSI has always focused on preparing students for work in the trades.
Founding of RSI in the 1960s
RSI was founded in 1965 by Ed Loney Sr., who had previously attended trade school in Detroit and worked as an HVAC technician. By founding RSI, he aimed to supply the growing HVAC industry with the trained professionals needed during a period of rapid growth. 1
Expansion in the 1970s
After launching its Refrigeration Technologies program, RSI quickly expanded. It remained, however, a family-driven business, with Loney’s family members largely taking over operations after he passed away in 1973. Ola Lee Loney worked hard to ensure that her late husband’s vision of a well-prepared workforce was realized. By this time, the school was well known as a veteran-approved institution. RSI was viewed as a valuable tool for helping Vietnam veterans transition back into the workforce in a letter to Loney, and from Dick Thomas, aid to U.S. Arizona Senator, Paul Fannin. 2
Success Stories in the 1980s
By the late 1980s, RSI was annually graduating over 700 students from its Refrigeration Technologies program, Electrical Technologies program, as well as Electro-Mechanical Technologies program. Many graduates found success as self-employed technicians, while others worked for everything from candy manufacturers to Disney on Ice. Many alumni launched successful companies of their own; a notable example of this was George Husar, who started Genie Aire and Cryo Refrigeration. Several of Husar’s family members went on to attend RSI, and his sons Earl and Ernie founded Duskey’s Heating and Air Conditioning soon after graduating. 3
Outreach & Focus in the 1990s
Fueled by numerous success stories, RSI continued to expand during the 1980s and 1990s. The school’s growth attracted the attention of numerous local employers, many of whom relied on its trade programs to supply a new generation of skilled professionals. In addition to developing strong relationships with local employers, the school reached out to numerous government agencies. Then Industry Relations Director Jon Cline (son-in-law of founder Ed Loney Sr.) advocated extensively for RSI through NATTS (National Association of Training and Technical Schools) and Arizona’s state school association, which he helped found. As a NATTS profile points out, his efforts greatly expanded RSI’s statewide and national influence as an educational institution. 4
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Partnerships with Industry in the 2000s
After years of family ownership, RSI was sold in 2007. Before being sold and after, it greatly expanded its industry outreach, partnering with both local businesses and other educational institutions.
A Rich History and a Strong Future
RSI has experienced numerous changes over the years, but during this time, the institution’s overarching goal has remained the same: to give students the skills they need to achieve success in a competitive workforce. Today, RSI accomplishes this goal by offering a variety of HVACR programs and will continue in the future.
1 – The Refrigeration School (1988, September). NATTS Career Training, 22-23.
2 – Thomas, Dick (1971) Letter to Ed Loney.
3 – The Refrigeration School (1988, September). NATTS Career Training, 22-23.
4 – People Profiles: Jon Cline. (1990, November 16). NATTS News & Views, 7.