Manufacturer Leadership Forum

Tuesday • April 4, 2023
8:45 AM -
 9:45 AM
Mardi Gras Ballroom

This popular session returns as ACCA welcomes top manufacturing industry leaders for an interactive discussion of current events affecting manufacturers and the HVACR supply chain. Leading manufacturer representatives join ACCA for a live Q&A session where contractors can ask key questions and address industry representatives directly.

Kyle Gargaro, Moderator


Kyle Gargaro is the Managing Editor for the Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration NEWS. Before that, Kyle was the News and Legislation Editor with the NEWS.

Kyle graduated from Central Michigan University in the spring of 1999 with a major in journalism and a minor in communications. He joined the Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration NEWS (located in Troy, Michigan) in October of 2004 as the News and Legislation Editor. After a year with the NEWS, Kyle took the position of Managing Editor. Before joining the ACHR NEWS, he was Editor-in-Chief of The Clarkston News, a newspaper in metro Detroit.


Braden Cook Headshot
Braden Cook

Director, Product Management & Training

Braden Cook serves as the Director, Product Management and Training, Residential HVAC at Carrier. Braden directs the product marketing and lifecycle management for residential heating, cooling, ductless, and VRF products, with a focus on launches in support of 2023 regulatory compliance.

Braden joined Carrier in 2015 as Product Manager for 80% Gas Furnaces and Oil Furnaces. Since 2017, he has held the position of Heating Platform Leader with a primary focus on Fan Energy Rating (FER) and Ultra Low NOx gas furnace launches.

Braden holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Indianapolis and a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology from Purdue University. Braden and his wife, Brittney, live in Westfield, Indiana, and have a two-year-old son and twins, a boy and girl.

Nathan Walker
Nathan Walker

Senior Vice President, Environmental Business Development and Program Management Office
Daikin Comfort Technologies

Nathan Walker joined Daikin Comfort Technologies (previously Goodman Manufacturing) in 2002 as a Senior Design Engineer before joining the Marketing and Business Development team and working his way up to Senior Vice President of Corporate Marketing and CEO Staff before transitioning to his current position as Senior Vice President of Environmental Business Development and Program Management Office.

Nathan received a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering at Tennessee Technological University (Cookeville, TN) and a Master of Business Administration at the University of Texas (Austin, TX). Nathan was born and raised in Tennessee, but has been in the Houston, Texas area for the last twenty years. He has been married to Brandy Walker for 23 years, and they have four children ages 19, 17, 14, and 12. Nathan enjoys golf and other outdoor activities. 

Mark Bills
Mark Bills

VP/GM – Commercial HVAC Products
Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

Mark Bills is the VP/GM – Commercial HVAC Products at Emerson Commercial & Residential Services. In this role, Mark leads product strategy, engineering development, life cycle management, and channel engagement strategies for the North American Commercial HVAC market segment along with the responsibility of coordinating Emerson’s Commercial HVAC compressor strategies across all World Areas.

Since joining Emerson in 2000, he has held positions of increasing responsibility in the areas of new product engineering, product management, marketing, and sales across Refrigeration and Air Conditioning. In addition to his experience over a broad range of business disciplines, Mark has held strategic leadership positions in North American and Asia Pacific, being based in Hong Kong for four years. Most of his career has been focused on compression and sub-system solutions, but he has also led a team focused on IOT solutions and applications in the North American Cold Chain space.

Mark graduated from the University of Toledo with a Bachelor’s of Science in Mechanical Engineering and later continued his education at the University of Dayton where he obtained a Master’s in Business Administration. He currently sits on the AHRI Leadership Council for the Applied Sector and is a Board member of the Geothermal Exchange.

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Brandon Franks

Vice President, Sales & Marketing
Johnson Controls

Brandon Franks oversees the sales related to residential and commercial, along with the distributor marketing programs for Johnson Controls’ Global Products division. He has over 22 years of HVAC experience and has served in multiple capacities, including territory sales, product management, and national accounts. 

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Chad Gillespie

Sales Manager Performance Construction
Mitsubishi Electric Cooling and Heating

Chad Gillespie has more than 30 years of experience in the building industry. His experience and knowledge stems from a diverse background including wholesale distribution management, manufacturing, and as a builder.

Chad leads the Performance Construction team, a business development group focusing on driving the adoption of high-performance heat pumps in the new construction space. His team works with builders, architects, and industry professionals to realize the importance of proper HVAC design and sustainable building practices to support the responsible transition to an all-electric built environment. Chad and his team promote a holistic approach supporting advanced code adoption, higher builder standards, and training to support the rapidly changing building industry to better serve the needs of the consumer, and builders, while maintaining a focus on sustainability.

Randy Roberts
Randy Roberts

Vice President for Residential Business Development
Rheem Manufacturing

For over a quarter of a century, Randy Roberts has played an active and integral role growing and positioning Rheem’s U.S. Air Conditioning Division for long-term success.

Since 1997, Randy has worked closely with Rheem contractors and distribution partners, helping them succeed and grow their business while also strengthening Rheem’s culture, strategy, and customer and consumer partner engagement. Randy currently oversees Rheem’s Residential Sales, Marketing, Customer Service, and Product Development efforts.

Randy is an alumnus of the University of Alabama earning his bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1993, as well as an Executive MBA in 2012. He has served as a board member and President of the Birmingham Golf Association (BGA), where he has been instrumental in Junior Golfer development in the greater Birmingham community. In addition, Randy is also a deacon and active member of Mountain Brook Baptist Church. When not working, Randy enjoys playing golf and pickleball, and watching college sports.