Interview with Ron King: Intel on NIA’s New Thermal Insulation Inspection Certification Program

Johns Manville recently supported the National Insulation Association (NIA) in developing their new Thermal Insulation Inspection Certification Program. This is a robust program designed to help fill a growing need in the insulation industry. We recently sat down with Ron King, one of the principle developers of NIA’s new program, for an interview to learn a little bit more about the Thermal Insulation Inspection Certification Program, who it’s for, and how it can help.

  1. Can you give us a brief bio of your job history and explain what you do for NIA today?
    I am a Past President of the National Insulation Association (NIA), the World Insulation and Acoustic Congress, and the Southwest Insulation Contractors Association. I retired as the Chairman, CEO, and President of a large national mechanical insulation distributor/fabricator. I currently serve as a full-time consultant to the NIA on a variety of educational, outreach, and governmental initiatives, including coordinating many allied association alliance-partnership activities, serving as Chairman and Past Chairman, respectively, of the National Institute of Building Sciences’ National Mechanical Insulation Committee and Consultative Council. I am one of the principle developers of the Thermal Insulation Inspector Certification Program.

  2. What is the NIA Thermal Insulation Inspector Certification Program?
    The program serves has a thorough introduction to mechanical insulation and the inspection process for mechanical insulation systems in new construction, retrofit, and/or maintenance applications. The program scope covers the inspection process from cryogenic to 1,200°F service temperatures.  The Thermal Insulation Inspector Certification level of the program prepares those individuals who are seeking professional mechanical insulation system inspection certification.

  3. What inspired NIA to develop this program?
    NIA’s Thermal Insulation Inspector Certification Program has been developed at the request of the industry engineering and facility owner communities and from within the industry. The importance of inspecting mechanical insulation systems being installed or previously installed systems has never been greater. The mechanical insulation knowledge base within the engineering and facility owner communities, and directly within the industry itself, is slowly dwindling to that of only basic knowledge with little actual experience. Combine that with compressed   schedules, modularization, quality worker shortage, multiple insulation system options, incomplete or conflicting specifications, commissioning, and other factors, and the need for inspection becomes very clear.

  4. Who should attend?
    Based upon the groups that inspired the development of the program and the need for the program, the program has been designed for a diverse external and internal industry audience. From Engineering – Design Firms, Facility Owners, Inspection Firms, Code & Regulatory Officials, Mechanical and other Contractors, Industry Consultants to Mechanical Insulation Contractors, Manufacturers and Distributor/Fabricators. Basically, anyone engaged in the design, application or maintence of mechanical insulation systems.

  5. Why should a company send their employees to the NIA Insulation Inspector Certification Program?
    That depends on who your employer is, but the basic answer is simply knowledge. Mechanical or thermal insulation is not typically an engineering college course topic, and as a result, many outdated specifications are being cut and pasted into new documents. Knowledge of mechanical insulation materials, application procedures, and what constitutes a total mechanical insulation system is limited in most companies – especially with those who have just entered the mechanical insulation arena. Improper design, application, and maintenance of mechanical insulation systems can lead to many potential problems like corrosion under insulation (CUI), mold development, energy loss, increased carbon emissions, personal safety concerns, and even total system failure.  Knowledge is the core reason. Possibly, the question should be why wouldn’t a company send their employees to the class?

  6. What can people expect to get out of the program?
    The benefits, or “take away” if you will, of attending the National Insulation Association Thermal Insulation Inspection Certification course is varied depending upon company function, i.e. design firm, contractor, inspector etc.

    Following is an abbreviated listing of benefits that would apply to domestic and international class attendees.
    -Complements a QC/QA program or a good start for implementing a program
    -A platform for employee education and training for the beginner or expanding knowledge base, or simply a great refresher for experienced employees
    -Provides an unbiased information source for an assessment as to the condition of insulation systems that have or appear to have been damaged which can of benefit in identifying potential CUI, personnel, environmental and other areas of concern.
    -Supports craft training program - pointing out errors or areas of concern is a means of craft training i.e. let’s do it right the first time
    -Potentially supports defense on any potential liability related issues
    -A means of competitor differentiation
    -Provides a mechanism to request specification clarity
    -Supports specification compliance monitoring
    -Can increase profitability by potentially minimizing mistakes and or rework
    -Having certified inspectors on staff is a great marketing – sales tool
    -Use of certified inspectors will over time raise the bar for the mechanical insulation industry
    -Could be a component of expanding service capabilities
    -Could complement energy audit – appraisal programs

  7. What does it cost? 
    While cost is relative, – as the former CEO of several companies I prefer to address the return on investment. When you review the potential benefit of attendance, it is hard to image the return on investment being anything but double or triple digit.

    The program is inclusive of having successfully completed the Mechanical Insulation E-Learning Series, resulting in an initial understanding of the principles and fundamentals of insulation and insulation systems, types of insulation products, mechanical insulation science and technology, maintenance, and more.  The in-person class is taught by two expert instructors and is broken up into two parts over four full days of learning.  Each part provides the student with separate 250+ page binders.  Each student will also receive the MICA Industrial and Standards Manual.  Breakfast and lunch are also included each day.

    The standard cost is $2,550 for NIA members and $3,450 for non-members. Engineers, end users, facility owners or independent inspection firms are potentially eligible for non-member discounted pricing.

  8. Where is the course held? 
    The first two classes (May and June 2019) are being held in Houston, TX, but classes will be held in various United States locations. Companies and organizations may also sponsor individual classes as well. 

  9. Who does the training?
    Each class will have two expert instructors. Each has a minimum of thirty-five years’ experience in the industrial and commercial mechanical insulation industry segments. Each instructor is retired from executive management positions within the industry and have been thoroughly vetted by the association as qualified to teach the Thermal Insulation Inspector Program. Click here for the presenter profiles.

  10. Where can our readers find more information?
    Anyone who would like more information can contact us using the sources I’ve listed below:

    Website: National Insulation Association (NIA) 
    Email NIA:
    Call: 703-464-6422
    Fax: 703-464-5896

    NIA is not-for-profit trade association representing mechanical insulation contractors, distributors, fabricators and manufacturers that provide thermal insulation systems to the mechanical, commercial and industrial markets throughout the nation. Since 1953 the northern Virginia based association has been the voice of the insulation industry.

In closing, Ron added, “There are inspection requirements on many, if not most, construction disciplines but not mechanical insulation. The benefits of properly designed, installed, and maintained mechanical insulation systems are well-documented. Those benefits are reduced and the potential consequences of improper design, application, or maintenance can be extensive and can easily exceed the initial cost of the insulation system. The cost of inspection is potentially a cost reduction initiative and is certainly minimal compared to potential long-term cost of minimizing or identifying areas of concern or risk. The need and value of a certified mechanical insulation inspection program is long overdue.”

Ron King will be presenting at the Johns Manville Industrial Masters Course on May 14th and 15th in League City, TX. Visit the web page to find out more and register to attend.