Madeleine Albright

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright; one-handed former major league baseball player Jim Abbott; author Stephen M.R. Covey; United Association General President William Hite; college basketball analyst Dick Vitale; former director of the CIA, James Woolsey; Newsweek columnist Anna Quindlen; environmentalist lifestyle expert Danny Seo … why even the band Huey Lewis and the News will be a part of the 2008 Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA) Convention.

Every year, the organizers put together a ton of top-notch speakers and entertainers, and this year is no exception. The festivities begin March 2 and conclude March 6 at the Desert Springs JW Marriott Resort & Spa in Palm Desert, Calif.

“This year, our convention program is dedicated to revisiting the fundamentals in a fresh, new way,” said David Kruse, president of L.J. Kruse Co., Berkeley, Calif., who will be stepping down as MCAA’s president before the convention is over. “A wide array of programs will provide attendees with information they can use to re-examine and fine-tune the underlying environment for success at one’s company and in life.”

The theme for this year’s event is “Creating an Environment for Success.” There certainly will be plenty of successful and distinguished speakers who could help create that environment for success.

Jim Abbott


Albright will be at the podium for the opening general session. She is known nationally and internationally as one of America’s most accomplished women in recent history. Currently she is a principal of The Albright Group, a global strategy firm. She is instrumental in developing relationships and securing agreements between The Albright Group’s clients and key stakeholders throughout the world.

Dr. Albright is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations board of directors, the Morta Distinguished Professor of Diplomacy at the Georgetown University Walsh School of Foreign Service, and consults with several other foundations and international study groups.

Chances are Dr. Albright will provide her insights on today’s political environment, international affairs, and the world economy.

Abbott will provide inspiration, as he is scheduled to speak during the Awards of Excellence Breakfast on March 5. Though born with only one hand, Abbott refused to let this deter him from his dream of becoming a Major League Baseball pitcher. Born and raised in Flint, Mich., Abbott was a standout hurler for the University of Michigan, and in 1987 he won the James E. Sullivan Award, which is given to the top amateur athlete in the U.S., becoming the first baseball pitcher to win that award. In 1989, he was drafted into the California Angels’ starting rotation without playing a single minor league game. During his 10 years in MLB, Abbott also played for the New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox, and the Milwaukee Brewers.

He attributes his success to his belief that achieving one’s goals “takes a willingness to adapt, to change, and to mold ourselves to meet the obstacles in our way.” The powerful words that shaped him should inspire convention-goers.

James Woolsey


Providing the speech at the closing session will be Hite, who is scheduled to update MCAA on how he is preparing the United Association for the future. Under his guidance, UA now is considered a forward-thinking group, looking to address the industry’s most pressing challenges.

Hite is serving his first elected term as UA general president. He is a third generation UA member whose grandfather started with the International Association in 1901. Hite was recently appointed to the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP) board of directors to represent the voices of America’s union sportsmen and to extend union benefits beyond the workplace.

Bill Hite

Following him to the stage will be Vitale, who is bound to have plenty to say. The ball-of-energy college basketball analyst will touch upon many subjects, including his enthusiasm for life. He uses a combination of humor and inspiration drawn from the various phases of his career to share his secrets for tackling the problems of life - and with boundless optimism.

Speaker Woolsey will share his views and insights on world events. The former head of the CIA is managing director of the Homeland Security Fund of the Paladin Capital Group, a division of Booz Allen Hamilton, a consulting firm based in Virginia. In addition to his term as CIA director, Woolsey was ambassador to the Negotiations on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, Vienna; and Under Secretary of the Navy and General Counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services. He also sits on several strategic think tanks concerned with international policy and national security.

The topper will be at the grand finale dinner dance on March 5. Providing music for the evening will be Huey Lewis and the News, whose chart-topping hits - “Heart of Rock and Roll,” “Do You Believe in Love,” Jacob’s Ladder,” and “Stuck with You” - catapulted the group to stardom in the 1980s.

Huey Lewis and the News is scheduled to perform at this year’s MCAA Convention.

Sidebar: Student Chapters Compete for Top Prize

The 2008 Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA) Convention will be a busy one for four particular MCAA student chapters.

Competing for the 2007-08 student chapter competition crown will be selected finalists Colorado State University, Milwaukee School of Engineering, Northeastern University, and the University of Washington. Each is in the hunt for the top prize of $5,000.

A different panel of judges will evaluate oral presentations to be made by the four finalists. Each finalist team will have 20 minutes to convince the judges that they are the best qualified to perform the proposed work on the selected project - 15 minutes for a formal oral presentation, and 5 minutes of answering the judges’ questions. Each team’s standing will be determined solely on the basis of their performance on the oral competition.

The project is the mechanical systems renovation of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. John J. Kirlin Inc. performed the work in 2002, including replacement of air handlers and other equipment, piping and duct, controls and fixtures, as well as management of the installation to minimize disruption of the art gallery’s operations. An addendum was issued for an allowance for a new sprinkler system. Each team received two CDs, one with more than 400 pages of background information, specifications, and requirements, and the other containing the project’s CAD drawings. None of the information was altered for the competition.

Second-place team will receive $2,500 while $1,000 will go to each of the other finalists. All finalists will also receive a trophy commemorating their achievement.

Publication Date:02/25/2008