GAOI Board of Directors

DAVID BUSS, President and Trainer

Dave Buss joined the GAOI board in March, 2012. He was elected president in 2020. He is a geothermal product manager for Connor Co., a founding member of the GAOI. Dave has worked in the geothermal industry since the 1980s and holds many geothermal heat pump credentials, including the Certified Geothermal Designer (CGD) designation. Dave’s experience with geothermal technology goes back to the late 1970s when he installed an early geo system in his own home. In addition to his board service with GAOI, Dave is a lead trainer for GAOI, helping to provide training for staff members of GAOI member organizations seeking accredited company status. He is also the instructor for GAOI’s design professionals class. Dave is an experienced and sought-after speaker and geothermal trainer.

Dave Buss, Connor Co./ClimateMaster, Golden, IL

WILLIAM “Bill” SPRAGUE, Vice-President and Conference Planning Committee

Bill has been with Area Mechanical in Rockford since 1996 and has been General Manager since 2006. He has served on the GAOI board since 2009. Area Mechanical’s main focus is on commercial and industrial projects, with a light mix of residential work. The company specializes in design/build projects, working closely with customers from concept to completion. He is a member of the American Society for Healthcare Engineering and has been an IGSHPA accredited installer since 2008. Bill is an Illinois EPA Cross Connection Inspector and an Illinois journeyman plumber for more than 25 years. Area Mechanical has been a GAOI member since 2009. Bill also instructs new technicians in geothermal installation basics.

William Sprague,  Area Mechanical Rockford, IL

GARY HURLEY, Secretary-Treasurer

Gary Hurley is a founding member of GAOI and has been a member of the GAOI board of directors since 2008. He heads the Member Services Department of Corn Belt Energy, a central Illinois electric cooperative. Prior to joining Corn Belt in 2021, he headed the Energy Services Office with City Water, Light & Power in Springfield, where he had been employed since 2002. Gary is responsible for overall energy efficiency programs for the Corn Belt Energy, including its successful geothermal programs like GeoCents. He holds several certifications in HVACR from RSES, NATE and SEDAC.

Gary Hurley, Corn Belt Energy, Bloomington, IL

DAN COUILLARD, Director and Past President

Dan Couillard is a licensed Professional Engineer and a Certified Geothermal Designer (CGD) who has been in the geothermal industry since 2008. He is the co-founder of Element Energy Consulting, a building MEP design firm that specializes in renewable energy technologies including geothermal heat pump systems. Dan served as the President of the GAOI board from 2018 to 2020. His support of geothermal technology has been influenced by a range of experience including building energy modeling, interior and exterior design of geothermal heat pump mechanical systems, construction project management, estimation, business development, financial analysis, project finance modeling and operational management. Dan has designed and built geothermal systems ranging from single family homes to massive district systems for multi-million square foot developments and net zero buildings. Dan also works on legislative efforts and with municipalities in the State of Illinois and the City of Chicago regarding the promotion and installation of geothermal heat pump technologies. Dan Couillard,  Element Energy Consulting, Park Ridge, IL

CHAD MAYES, Director and Past President

Chad Mayes is a founding board member of the GAOI and has served on the board since 2010. He currently serves as a Past President of the board and on the GAOI Nominations Committee. Chad is the President and Owner of Pro Air Heating, Cooling, Electrical and Geothermal, Inc., in Bloomington. Pro Air is an HVAC/Geothermal company specializing in installation and service of both geothermal and conventional systems. He has been installing geothermal systems in both residential and commercial applications for more than 20 years. Chad has also served on the Bloomington HVAC board for the many years.

Chad Mayes, Pro Air Heating, Cooling, Electrical and Geothermal, Inc., Bloomington, IL

BRIAN HOUCHIN, Director and Past President

Brian Houchin is general manager and managing partner of Bratcher Heating and Air Conditioning, Inc., an HVAC company headquartered in Bloomington-Normal, and with offices in Champaign-Urbana.  Bratcher has been in business since 1983 and Brian joined the company as an installer in 1988. He has also worked as service technician, service manager and sales manager before becoming general manager. Bratcher has been promoting geothermal heating and cooling since 1998 and has installed thousands of geothermal systems in central Illinois. Bratcher is a GAOI founding member, serving since 2008.. Brian served as GAOI’s second president from 2010-2012. He chairs the GAOI Nominating Committee.

Brian Houchin,  Bratcher Heating and A/C, Inc. Normal, IL

KELLY GUNN, Director

Kelly Gunn joined the GAOI board in December 2017.  She works for ComEd as a Senior Engineer in Energy Efficiency Research and Development. She previously worked as Energy Efficiency Program Manager, focused on heating & cooling systems including geothermal heat pumps.  She joined ComEd in April 2017 after four years of emerging technology research management at the Gas Technology Institute.  She holds a BS in Architectural Engineering with an Environmental specialty from the Milwaukee School of Engineering, and a Masters of Energy Engineering from the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC).  She is a registered Professional Engineer in Illinois and is the former Research & Promotion chair on the ASHRAE Illinois chapter board.

Kelly Gunn, ComEd, Oakbrook Terrace


Brent Braker is a founding member of the GAOI and has served on the board since its inception in 2008. He is the owner and president of Garber Heating and Air Conditionng in Morton. He is a mechanical engineer, with a degree from Bradley University. He joined Garber in 1997 as a service technician and installer and later moved to project management and sales. He has been the president of the company since 2004.

Brent Braker, Garber Heating and Air Conditioning, Morton


Mike Gordon joined the GAOI board of directors in the summer of 2021. He is the Territory Manager for downstate Illinois for WaterFurnace Int. Mike is an IGSPHA certified geothermal installer and he has worked in the HVAC industry since 1993. He has held a number of positions in the contracting, supply and manufacturing sides of the HVAC industry during his career. His work has included installation, servicing, design and sales and management. Mike also taught the one year HVAC certificate course at Danville Area Community College for 10 years.

Mike Gordon, WaterFurnace Int., Danville

JOHN FREITAG, GAOI Executive Director

John Freitag is a founding member of GAOI and serves as executive director. He was a director for the first two years of the organization’s existence, serving as secretary-treasurer. He worked for the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives, Springfield, the statewide trade association for the Illinois electric cooperatives, for 32 years, retiring in February of 2017. He has been a strong supporter of geothermal heating and cooling and other renewable energy technologies for many years and has written numerous grants for geothermal funding from government agencies and private foundations. He is a Certified Association Executive (CAE) and graduate of the University of Wisconsin.

 John Freitag, GAOI,  Springfield, IL