|ASHRAE Chapter History
Leadership Recall Interview
Jacksonville, Florida Chapter (034)
December 29, 1999
This is an official historical leadership recall interview of Jim Hammond, Past President of the Jacksonville Chapter of ASHRAE.
Would you give brief biographical sketch of your life? I was born in Rome, GA on August 19, 1927. My father was an electrical engineer from Georgia Tech. The next 21 years I moved 21 times before ended up in Clearwater, Florida. Once graduating from Clearwater High School, I entered the Navy. After getting out of the Navy, I went to the University of Florida. My first job was with Reynolds, Smith & Hills (RSH) here in Jacksonville in 1950. Approximately 40 people were there in an office on Park Street when I joined, and over 200 individuals when I left.
Those 21 moves when you were younger, was your father in the Service as well? He was in the service later on, however initially our family was living during the depression era and we moved to various projects/jobs. When he went into the Service we moved some more, then I joined the Service and moved some more…..by the time I got to 21 years of age, I had lived in 21 different places. Basically, I have seen a lot of the Southeast through my 21 moves.
What attracted you to the HVAC industry? At the University of Florida I knew I wanted to get in to engineering, but not quite sure what part I wanted to get into. My Junior year I got into an Air Conditioning course, and I suddenly realized that this was the most interesting bit of engineering that I had run into yet and really fell in love with it.
I see, and that's what prompted the first job with RSH? Yes, that was it. I got a job right after I graduated and I stayed with them for 6-1/2 years.
What were the challenges in the HVAC Industry at that time? Well those days were in the multi-zone, high velocity duct systems, and double-duct ductwork systems. Chillers were turning out almost 1 kW/ton, if you got a good one. There were a lot of fuel oil fired boilers. I don't think we had roof top units in those days, a lot of chilled water systems, not much DX.
Was it with RSH you got involved with ASHRAE? The Jacksonville Chapter of ASHRAE was formed while I was at RSH. My boss, Burt Sayman, was the first Chapter President. The second Chapter President was John Spence and I was the third Chapter President. Were you involved in any Regional positions within ASHRAE or more involved on the local level? Mostly the Chapter level. I served as President, Programs Chair, and Delegate to the Chapter's Regional Conference. Jacksonville hosted the CRC conference at the George Washington Hotel located in downtown Jacksonville when I was the Chapter President. That structure does not exist any longer.
What type of programs did the Chapter have during the year? There was some controversy on the type of programs the Chapter had. I was past the educational program stage and wanted to get something real interesting in front of the Chapter. The space program was taking off at the time, so my ploy was to get a speaker from Cape Canaveral. Russia had recently put Sputnik in orbit, so the space program topics seemed a bit more interesting than air conditioning. The people from the Cape had a speaker scheduled however they cancelled out on us so it never happened. Most of the programs were educational in nature with respect to air conditioning system design, pumping issues such as primary/secondary systems, and boilers systems.
Were there any benchmarks or significant changes that stand out from when you were Chapter President to now in the industry? Well, the energy business is something that we never worried about. Now energy usage is an important topic. We spent horsepower and fuel like it was going out of style, because we did not care - we just wanted the system to work right! We did not care how we got the conditions. We heated the air up, cooled it down and we cooled it down and heated it up. We had great humidity control - no problems. The original inside design conditions were 80 degrees Dry Bulb, 50 % Relative Humidity. We have obviously seen a change in those design conditions. When we got started, if you could make it cooler inside than it was outside - you had a good system. We did not care about humidity, then it became a factor so we put a little heat in there to handle the problem.
After 6-1/2 years with RSH, what did you do? I had worked on the side with Tom Evans, who was doing structural/electrical engineering at the time. He was in need of a mechanical engineer, so I worked with him on a number of projects. We worked together pretty well and I had advanced about as far as I could go at RSH - my boss was pretty well entrenched in his position, and his was the next step for me! I began working in Tom Evans office on my own, but we were not officially "Evans & Hammond". People started saying, "Let's go get Evans & Hammond to do this job". So then I said, Tom -- people have been calling us married, so we ought to get married. So in 1961 we moved our office to Park Street and incorporated the business. We were probably the first engineers in Jacksonville to incorporate, because they had just passed the law that engineers could incorporate. Before that time, it was strictly an individual business not a corporation. So that change in the law was another good reason for Tom and I to get together.
I personally know several engineers that were once with Evans & Hammond for a period of time, such as Stan Mazza and Mike Gregory, were there any other individuals active in the Jacksonville area that I'm not mentioning? Oh yes, lets see … Wick VanWagenen, Wayne Kelly … actually someone kept a list of the individuals that worked at Evans & Hammond that since departed, I was not aware of the list until 5 years ago and there was about 100 people on that list. Well the two individuals that you named have formed their own consulting engineering business. Reynolds, Smith & Hills was known as "Graduate University", because almost everybody in the business came from RSH. So you might say that Evans & Hammond took up some of that.
The Evans & Hammond Building off the Interstate 95, was that your original location? No that location is off Penisular Place. The Park Street location of Evans & Hammond was approximately 6 blocks from the Five Points area was actually a residence purchased from Tom Evans' wife. She owned the residence because it had been her family's homestead. Tom's office was in the front bedroom, which happened to be his wife's bedroom - and he shared with me that he had always wanted to get into this bedroom long before he got married. He finally got there. We were in that office for 28 years. We knocked down a wall between the kitchen and dining room to make way for a drafting area. Every time we hired somebody we would have to double up with somebody until we could get a contractor to add another piece onto the building. We first enclosed the back porch, then we added some office space at the back of the building, and then we converted a bathroom into another office. Our final addition was to the four-car garage, which we turned into a very large drafting area. We considered putting a second floor on the building, then realized that we did not have adequate parking space for our business, and that we had been damn lucky not to have caught the eye of the building department with all our expansions. So we decided to move to the Penisular Place location. Obviously, more parking space. More parking, however the building was not big enough for our purposes. We built a second floor that went out over the parking lot. We had grown to 21 people, and I had decided that we were not going to add on this building as we were bringing on additional people. Therefore we had four or five extra offices so we would not run out of space.
What has your involvement in ASHRAE meant to you personally? ASHRAE is a strange animal because, its amazing that all of the people in it are all more or less competitors with one another. You have engineers, building managers, vendors… just a real mix of people. A great bunch that I have made a number of friends with.
What hobbies do you have? My family has always done a lot of camping. When you are young and have kids, camping provided an inexpensive way to vacation. Our kids have grown up as "Outdoors" people and traveling/camping has played an important part in that.
What advice would you impart on someone starting a career in HVAC? Well the first thing is that if you get into this field, you better love it. I am not sure how people are doing it these days, but I recall a number of "all-nighters" and "all-weekenders". Thirty years ago, our business was a lot more fun than today because the individuals then were friendly and not as cutthroat. An example is that if you had a problem with a client, the contractor would help resolve the problem. Today it seems as though everyone is out to point fingers. Engineering really is a great field, there is always going to be something new and inventive around the corner.
Do you have any advice for individuals new to ASHRAE? Volunteer for a committee, attend the meetings, and go to one of the Chapter's Regional Conferences to expose yourself to more of the ASHRAE Society. You will meet many interesting people at these conferences and learn a lot about our industry at the same time.
I could not agree with you more about that, Jim. What our Chapter does on the "Grassroots Level" only scratches the surface to what business is conducted by our Society. That is so true, you really get to see the bigger picture. Have you ever gone to the National ASHRAE Show? No, I never have. I always have been too busy to go - and most of those shows seem to be up North in the middle of the Winter and because of that I lost interest pretty quickly in attending.
Jim, I appreciate this opportunity to learn about yourself and the contributions you have made in the Jacksonville Chapter of ASHRAE, thank you very much. You are very welcome.
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