PALM DESERT, Calif. - At the Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA) convention, in a special format resembling the ESPN SportsCenter show, the MCAA AwardsCenter honored members for exceptional safety performance, welcomed two new affiliated associations, chartered four new student chapters, and celebrated the winner of the 2007-08 Student Chapter Competition. Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA) President Dave Kruse and President-Elect Jack Wilhelmi co-anchored the sports program-like format and announced the sports awards winners for the golf tournament, tennis tournament, and Fun Run/Walk.

MCAA charters were presented to the MCA of Southern Nevada and to the MCA of Alaska. Charters were also presented to four new MCAA student chapters: the MCA of Cleveland Student Chapter at Kent State University; the Pittsburgh State University MCA Student Chapter; the Penn State Student Chapter of Mechanical Contractors Association of America; and the Illinois Valley MCA Student Chapter.

They also presented trophies and cash prizes to the finalists in the 2007-08 Student Chapter Competition: first prize went to the University of Washington MCA Student Chapter; the MCAA Student Chapter at the Milwaukee School of Engineering took second place; and Rocky Mountain Chapter of MCAA at Colorado State University and the MCAA Student Chapter at Northeastern University received honorable mention recognition.

The MCA Student Chapter at Purdue University was named 2007 Student Chapter of the Year and Prof. Keith Rahn of Illinois State University was honored as the 2007 Educator of the Year. Winners of the 2007 Safety Excellence Awards were also announced: Louis N. Picciano & Sons Inc., Vestal, N.Y. (Category I); Quackenbush Co., Buffalo, N.Y. (Category II); Madison Industrial Services Team, Glen Riddle, Pa. (Category III); University Mechanical & Engineering Contractors, Tempe, Ariz. (Category IV); and Nooter Construction Inc., Trevose, Pa. (Category V).

Anchors Kruse and Wilhelmi introduced the morning keynote speaker, former Major League pitcher Jim Abbott, who shared stories and lessons-learned from his remarkable career to explain his unique approach to overcoming formidable life challenges.

Abbott, born with only one arm, was the first pitcher to win the James E. Sullivan Award, which honors the top amateur athlete. He went on to become a gold medalist in the 1988 Summer Olympics, and played 10 years in Major League Baseball.

Abbott attributed his success as an amateur and professional athlete to his belief that, “Achieving our goals takes a willingness to adapt, to change, and to mold ourselves to meet the obstacles in our way.”


John B. Wilhelmi of Waldinger Corp., Omaha, Neb., became MCAA’s new president at the closing session of MCAA 2008. Outgoing President Dave Kruse delivered moving farewell remarks after presenting a plaque of appreciation to retiring board of directors member Mike Cullinane. United Association General President Bill Hite updated attendees on the latest developments concerning workforce training, market recovery efforts, and apprentice recruiting programs. Mark A. Rogers of West Chester Mechanical Contractors, Chester, Pa., vice president/assistant treasurer, became the newest member of the executive committee. Chris FitzGerald of FitzGerald Contractors Inc., Shreveport, La., was announced as the newest board of directors member.

Rounding out the program was legendary Dick Vitale, former basketball coach and college basketball analyst, who delighted attendees with his characteristic humor and unique commentary on the challenges we typically face in life and how he has taken them on with a can-do attitude and optimistic outlook. President Wilhelmi ended the program by inviting all to attend the next national meeting in Scottsdale, Ariz., March 1–5, 2009.

Publication date:03/24/2008