40 Years of Desert Aire: A Look Back, A Look Ahead

February 2018
News Releases


40 Years of Desert Aire: A Look Back, A Look Ahead
By Keith Coursin, President, Desert Aire

 “Anniversaries are like birthdays: occasions to celebrate and to think ahead, usually among friends with whom one shares not only the past but also the future.” -- Zbigniew Brzezinski

As we enter 2018 Desert Aire celebrates our 40th year, our ruby anniversary. 

Desert Aire was founded in 1978 as a specialty manufacturer of refrigeration-based dehumidification systems designed primarily for small indoor pools. Reflecting on our milestone I thought of how significant that year was, not only for this company and the HVAC industry but also for the world. 

To take you down memory lane, or perhaps provide a history lesson, this was the year when a Super Bowl television commercial cost just $162,000. This compared to today’s figure of over $5 Million for a commercial lasting all of 30 seconds. I can only imagine the cost in another 40 years when we celebrate our 80th birthday! 

1978 saw the introduction of computer technology in the White House, under President Jimmy Carter. This was a substantial step forward into the modern era, and a foreshadowing of the technology-driven world that would become the 21st Century. It’s hard to imagine how White House staffers coped with day-to-day national and global responsibilities before that first HP3000 booted up in the West Wing.

That was not the only significant technological advancement of 1978. The NAVSTAR Global Positioning System was launched by the U.S. Department of Defense. This gave the United States a robust and stable satellite navigation system - the first of its kind. Think of how today we so casually use GPS technology in our cars and smartphones to guide us to our destinations.

When I think about 1978 I remember the classic coming-of-age movie Grease, and the “electrifyin’” contributions of Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta to the pop culture soundtrack of our lives. 

Although in the movie Danny and Sandy drove a maroon 1949 Dodge Wayfarer Convertible to the drive-in, the best selling car of 1978 was the Chevrolet Impala/Caprice. The best selling pickup truck was the Ford F-150, including Ford’s Free Wheelin' model with rainbow side tape stripes. 

Meanwhile Desert Aire founders Jim and Gary Metzger, with help from their father Andy, transformed their knowledge of HVAC equipment into a company that manufactured dehumidifiers, primarily for small poolrooms.

At that time I was an undergraduate in Wisconsin at Carroll College, now Carroll University, working toward a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry. I would join Desert Aire in 1990 as president, a position I’ve been proud to hold nearly 28 years.

When Desert Aire was formed the goal was to dehumidify rooms with indoor swimming pools. We have certainly come a long way, with our products and technologies now chosen by customers to create comfortable and productive environments in many different types of buildings. 

Our dedication to creating lasting solutions for our customers and our focus on the science – and art -- of energy-saving design is what we want to continue to develop and be known for moving forward. 

As we celebrate 40 years of Desert Aire, we look to adapt our customer focus and the lessons learned to new challenges, solutions and products. We know that our customers and employees have made this anniversary possible and we are very, very grateful. 

So join us in celebrating 40 years of GPS technology, ‘Grease’ -- and Desert Aire! I look forward to facing the challenges ahead, and helping to create memories for us all to cherish when we look back on 2018 in the future. 
Thank you for being a part of Desert Aire history!

Homepage slider photos: Actors Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta embrace in a promotional still for the film, 'Grease,' directed by Randal Kleiser, 1978. The best selling pickup truck in 1978 was the Ford F-150, including Ford’s Free Wheelin' model.  In 1978 the U.S. Department of Defense launched the NAVSTAR Global Positioning System, the first satellite navigation system.