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The road has had a rough start. Leisgang's father, John, founder of his Cincinnati-based company, died three weeks after Leisgang assumed the chairmanship in Austin, Texas, at the 2005 ACCA 37th Annual Conference & Indoor Air Expo. He has left his employees, wife Karen, and sister Julie to run the day-to-day operations of his business - JonLe Heating & Cooling Co. - while he spreads the good word about ACCA as he crisscrosses the United States in the next 12 months.
He stopped long enough to chat with The News during his visit to the Michigan ACCA (MIACCA) annual meeting. Leisgang was asked to speak with MIACCA members while at the meeting.
His talk centered on the initiatives he wants to implement during his tenure as ACCA chairman. Leisgang wants contractors to emphasize the impact of healthy indoor environments when marketing their businesses. He wants contractors to be educated on what it is
like to run a business today. And he wants service technicians to be up-to-date on the best technology that is available to them.
The List Of IssuesLeisgang said, "The economy is teeter-tottering more than most would admit."
However, he believes contractors can remain busy and profitable despite the economy. "We need to take advantage of the health and energy matters," he said. "The energy concerns help us because it makes high-efficiency equipment more saleable. But, the problem is that people's spendable income is not as great as it was."
Leisgang said that depending on how consumers choose to manage their natural resources, there is "an immense opportunity for contractors."
An age-old problem facing HVACR contractors is the lack of qualified technicians. Leisgang said that one way to attract more qualified people to the trade is to show prospective employees an attractive career path. "Giving them a career path means raising the bar of the industry," he said. "For what we provide, we are an underpaid and undersold industry.
"Raising the bar will allow us to pay our techs more and give them a career. And if we aren't career pathing our people, they will look for a job somewhere else."
Leisgang used his own business as a positive example of good employee retention. He said his company, founded in 1960, has a very low turnover rate because he continues to invest in employee training, something that all HVACR contractors need to do.
"You have to build the cost of career pathing into your pricing scheme," he said. "Sharing our P&L statements and offering good health benefits, including a 401(k) plan, are all part of how we career path our employees."
Selling ACCAPart of Leisgang's job as ACCA chairman is to promote the many benefits of ACCA membership and continue to reinforce the importance of new programs that ACCA rolls out, such as the association's new environmental insurance policy, which includes mold coverage.
"ACCA continues to position itself as a resource for contractors," he said. "We need to continue to fight for our industry even when things aren't crashing down on us. That's where ACCA works as an advocate for our industry."
Leisgang is encouraged by the new ACCA members who see the benefits of education and networking - two of ACCA's strong points. And he believes that members should not look to ACCA as just a place to pay membership dues. "Contractors have to get beyond seeing membership dues as the end of the investment process," Leisgang noted.
He pointed out the strength of networking for all ACCA members through its MIX GroupÂ® program. Members are encouraged to join MIX Groups, which include other contractors in similar yet noncompetitive markets. Group members are required to share all business information with each other in order to develop the best possible business model.
"How can we take our strengths and weaknesses and learn from others?" Leisgang asked. "We are not shy about sharing information in MIX Groups."
Summing up the message he is taking to ACCA contractors, Leisgang said, "My message to contractors is this: We need to embrace learning as we never have before. Education and training and our ability to understand the importance of these in our company's future successes is crucial. Those that make this investment will be leaps and bounds ahead of those that do not.
"Consumers will be able to differentiate this and will make comfort choices with the best contractors in the days, months, and years to come."
For information on ACCA, visit www.acca.org. For information on JonLe Heating & Cooling, visit www.jonle.com.
Publication date: 06/20/2005