Don House (left) of the United Association and Wayne Turchetta, HMC Service, Louisville, Ky., shared a few moments during the opening reception of the MCAA Annual Convention.

ORLANDO - Change. The very word makes the pulse quicken, and that little inkling of fear stirs in the pit of your stomach.

This was on the opening page of the program guide of the Mechanical Contractors Association of America Inc. (MCAA) 2007 convention. It set the stage for five days of intensive, thought-provoking discussions that focused on the many faces of change. Twenty-three educational sessions and spousal programs were available to the nearly 2,500 attendees as they learned, networked, and socialized their way around the J.W. Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Feb. 25-March 1.

“Some changes are expected in life, some changes are those that you create, and some changes simply come at you unexpected,” said Michael Cullinane, outgoing president of MCAA as he set the stage at the opening session on Monday, Feb. 26. He referred to challenges facing the industry and member companies, and specifically focused on the urgent need for increased education - not only for the industry but for those who are contemplating careers in this industry.

He announced that MCAA has officially endorsed the United Association (UA) Standard for Excellence, a policy setting forth the fundamental principles that underlie the UA’s commitment to excellence.

During the session the Distinguished Service Award was presented to John E. Martin for his many years of involvement and service to MCAA. Martin, perhaps most visible as the organizer of the Annual Fun Run, also rendered tremendous service through his work on numerous committees, and in assisting with the development of various MCAA manuals.

Cullinane introduced the morning’s keynote speaker, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and former secretary of state, retired Gen. Colin Powell. Powell immediately got into the swing of change as he told the packed ballroom, “One day, honor guards and bands are waiting for you when you step off the plane, television crews jockey for position to hear your every word; one day you’re fourth in line to succeed the President of the United States, and the next day - you ain’t. That’s change.”

Powell spoke for about an hour. Rather than tell stories of past glories, he focused on simple examples of how life changes and how people must respond as leaders of their own businesses.

“Leaders convey a sense of purpose and direction,” Powell told the audience. “A sergeant at Fort Benning told me when I was a lieutenant that I might have a good future in the military. He said, ‘You’ll know that you’re a good leader when people will follow you even if only out of curiosity.’ There will come a day,” said Powell, “that people will be scared to follow you. But, they may have enough confidence in you to take a chance to see where you will take them. That is when you know you are a good leader.”

Terry Bowden (left), former Auburn University football coach and a current college football analyst, entertained the crowd during the MCAA Annual Convention held in Orlando.


Education was the recurrent theme of the convention. Powell closed his comments with a strong endorsement. He said, “We can not lose and we can not tie. We must win the battle of education. In the flattening global space that we inhabit, we must invest more in our K-12 education environment.” That is our weakest element in the quest for global competitiveness, explained Powell: focusing on future generation’s ability to lead a global economy.

Cullinane and other MCAA leaders referred to MCAA as the education association. “When people think about education we want them to think MCAA first,” said Adrienne Breedlove, director of communications.

In keeping with the education thread, 21 of the sessions presented in Orlando provided continuing education credits. Completion certificates are scheduled to be mailed approximately four weeks after the convention.

An association between MCAA and the ACE Mentor Program was announced. There are more than 14,500 students that have gone through the ACE Mentor Program in the last decade, and many are now working in architectural, construction, and engineering offices across the nation. Robert Armistead has taken on the MCAA responsibility to chair the committee that will be working to expand MCAA’s reach with this highly successful program.

Upcoming education efforts that were being promoted at the convention include: “Catching the Next Wave: Seizing the Opportunities that Lie Ahead,” a business development conference scheduled for Milwaukee, Sept. 24-26; and PreFab 2007, a prefabrication seminar to be held in Houston, May 10-11.


In addition to General Colin Powell, other guest speakers and entertainers included college football television analyst and former college football coach Terry Bowden, Kat Williams and Her Band, comedian Bill Cosby, and Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone.

Other meeting highlights included the Annual Fun Run/Walk sponsored by Anvil International; an extravagant dessert party co-sponsored by Baltimore Air Coil, Milwaukee Valve, and CNA; and the Awards of Excellence Breakfast sponsored by NIBCO.

For more information, visit The 2008 convention will be held March 2-6, 2008 at the J.W. Marriott Resort and Spa at Desert Springs, Calif.

Publication date:04/02/2007