February 2, 2004 by

Jeff Forker


Categories: Media

jforker.jpgJeff Forker, a champion of heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration contractors, died on Jan. 22 from cancer. He was 60.
Forker, whose father was a sheet metal contractor, joined the staff of Air Conditioning & Refrigeration Business magazine in 1971. He worked in the production and editorial departments of several magazines at Penton Media, Inc., before becoming the publisher, then vice president of its Mechanical Systems/Construction group. In this position, he oversaw Contracting Business, HPAC Engineering and Contractor magazines.
“Jeff was the contractor’s best friend and the industry’s guardian angel. He quietly ended feuds that hurt the contractor and hindered the industry. He subtly steered manufacturers away from courses of action that would harm the contractor and damage the industry. He built bridges between people and groups. He watched over the industry like a father watches his children at the playground,” said Matt Michel, CEO and president of The Service Roundtable.
Forker received numerous accolades, including the Lennox Special Recognition Award and the Air Conditioning Contractors of America Spirit of Independence Award, the industry’s highest honor. In 2003, he was inducted into the Contracting Business Hall of Fame.

8 Responses to Jeff Forker

  1. Michael Weil

    I worked with and for Jeff for over 20 years. He was much more than a boss — he was a mentor, arbiter, confidant, and friend. He allowed those of us who had the honor of working for him to be creative, encouraged us to wear “many hats” and view the industry from many perspectives. I grew up under his tutelage and am greatful for his influence on my professional and personal life. Now don’t get me wrong, he wasn’t all business — he was a fun-loving prankster with a quick wit and a sharp tongue who loved to draw, read sciennce fiction (a passion of mine as well) and talk politics. He will be sorely missed.

  2. Wendell Bedell

    Jeff was a relentless contributor to the betterment of our industry and he will be sorely missed. Even in sickness he tirelessly worked to provide all of us in the HVAC industry a better place to work and share information.
    Please accept our heartfelt condolences to his family and ti his huge entourage of followers which I include myself.

  3. Larry Taylor

    Every time I see an issue of CB I cannot help but think about Jeff and the impact he has had on our industry. We, in the industry, would not have the companies and employees or lifestyles we now have had it not been for Jeff and his tireless efforts to improve our industry. Many of us have become involved in the betterment of this industry because of Jeffs leadership and vision.
    I am reminded of the following poem when I think of Jeff.
    An old man, going a lone highway,
    Came at the evening cold and gray,
    To a chasm, vast and deep and wide,
    Through which was flowing a sullen tide.
    The old man crossed in the twilight dim-
    That sullen stream had no fears for him;
    But he turned, when he reached the other side,
    And built a bridge to span the tide.
    “Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim near,
    “You are wasting strength in building here.
    Your journey will end with the ending day;
    You never again must pass this way.
    You have crossed the chasm, deep and wide,
    Why build you the bridge at the eventide?”
    The builder lifted his old gray head.
    “Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said,
    “There followeth after me today
    A youth whose feet must pass this way.
    This chasm that has been naught to me
    To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be.
    He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
    Good friend, I am building the bridge for him.”
    To the best Bridge Builder I know
    God be with you.

  4. Tom McCart

    Jeff was a big man but not just in stature it was in how far he would bend over to help someone up. Many times he bent over backwards to help people. Jeff’s measure was not in height nor girth but simply quiet fatherly “Bigness” and it showed in whatever he did.
    I consider my relationship with Jeff a blessing for the past 18 years as I’m sure others do. The private phone calls with words of advice and guidance was my compass and course. Jeff you are missed but not forgotten.

  5. Charlie Greer

    Jeff got me started in publishing and made me a national figure. It was over ten years ago when Jeff, along with Dominic Guarino, invited a complete unknown, me, to lunch, where they asked me begin contributing articles to Contracting Business magazine.
    A few years after that, I joined the North American Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Wholesalers Association. When I attended their convention, as a stranger who was trying to establish new business contacts, Jeff sat me down in a crowded eating area and pointed out to me who I should approach and who I might as well avoid.
    Through the years he always had time for me and did what he could to help me.
    Charlie Greer

  6. Alex Carney

    I attended Jeff’s funeral and was given the privilege of eulogizing him. I was filled with emotion as I perused through the memorabilia capturing Forker’s life nuggets. One of those nuggets was a display of Jeff’s artwork. In fact, Jeff owned an art studio when he was younger and his business card read, “Artwork of Any Kind”.
    Jeff had another business card in his pocket that he gave out to those that asked, “Human Beings of Any Kind”. Like art, Jeff created and molded those around him into better human beings. I was one of those misfits that Jeff worked tirelessly on to improve. Many others on Contracting Business’ staff, Penton and the industry benefitted from knowing Jeff. Here’a poem I wrote about Jeff at his 60 birthday party last February. It captures fairly succinctly my relationship with him.
    First Dad, Second Dad
    First dad bought me a car. Second dad bought my car.
    First dad gave me money. Second dad told me to go out and sell something.
    First dad taught me how to close deals from the kitchen table, coffee in-hand only wearing boxer underwear. Second dad closed deals with me from the Bronx to Burbank, magazine in-hand only wearing an idea.
    First dad lives his life

  7. Nancy Jones

    Once Jeff visited me and my husband at our home in the hill country during a national convention. We spent the evening with friends in the industry, sipping wine and beer in front of the fire on a dark and rainy night. We were enthralled with his stories, his wit and his insight into the ways of us humans. Jeff became a very good friend of mine that day and I treasure the great times we had and the big bear hugs I could always expect. How we will miss him and the way his life impacted us all. Nancy Jones

  8. Bob Ring

    Our industry was lucky to have Jeff Forker as part of it. Not too many years ago Jeff offered me a job at Contracting Business. It was very difficult to pass up, but I did. Jeff remained my friend for many years. I always remember he and I playing golf together in Los Angeles. God Bless you Jeff.

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