SAN ANTONIO - It has been said about parts of Texas that you can almost watch your dog run away for two days. The Mechanical Service Contractors of America (MSCA) held its 23rd Annual Educational Conference, Oct. 12-15, in San Antonio where the Hyatt Hill Country Resort lay like a mirage where once only sagebrush and flat land stretched to the horizon.

The opening session featured MSCA board of managers Chairman Russ Borst presenting his state-of-the-industry address, and recognizing the 2008 MSCA STAR and GreenStar contractors.

The green movement within MSCA has been a major thrust during Borst’s time at the helm.

He told the audience, “This year has truly been amazing, exciting, and a whirlwind of activity stimulated by our nation’s current obsession with green. A year ago we were barely talking about the green movement and today it seems to be the focus everywhere we turn and in everything we do.

“And, most fortunately for us, this heightened concern in our country with environmental issues and the impact of man’s actions on our natural resources has opened the door to a vast array of new, challenging, and profitable business opportunities for the smart service contractor.”

The MSCA group honored its STAR contractors and perhaps especially fitting with Borst’s comments - those contractors that had attained the GreenStar designation. Eighteen new STAR companies were recognized on stage which brings the total qualified contractors to 105, and 12 gained the status of GreenStar.

One of the priorities at MSCA this year was to develop a relationship with the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), a nonprofit organization composed of leaders from across the building industry working to advance buildings that are environmentally responsible, profitable, and healthy places to live and work.

MSCA presented eight classes all around the country this year to help participants prepare for the Leadership in Energy and Efficient Design (LEED) Existing Buildings (EB) accredited professional exam.

Borst said, “Over 350 people attended these intensive two-day classes and, I am pleased to report, the class proved extremely beneficial in ensuring that those who took the exam passed. We have already scheduled four classes for 2009. These classes will focus on the new LEED Operations and Maintenance exam. I think it is important that every MSCA member company have at least one LEED accredited professional on staff as your green expert and to direct your green efforts.”

In August, as part of Mechanical Contractors Association of America’s (MCAA’s) green Webinar series, Borst presented “Green Means Business,” which was attended by almost 200 people, a record number for the association.

Borst said, “It was a very well received program during which I introduced MSCA’s model green preventive maintenance (PM) plan. This plan provides contractors with an easy-to-use recommended program for PM services based on the requirements to attain or maintain a building’s LEED certification. Utilizing this program, you can readily demonstrate to your customers the PM tasks your company can provide and, in the process, enhance your PM offerings. This program can be downloaded, free of charge, from the MSCA Website.”

In addition, Jack Wilhelmi, MCAA president, Don House, United Association (UA) director of HVACR service and sustainable technologies, and Linda Sorrento, USGBC director of education and research partnerships, shared the opening stage with Borst.


In addition to the 18 educational sessions, there was no lack for entertainment. With the presidential election being the topic of the day, the Capitol Steps put everything into perspective with their unique style of political humor as the troupe picked on Republicans, Democrats, and anyone who deserved it during the opening festivities. Those with a bent toward the outdoors could participate in the 17th Annual Trane/MSCA Golf Tournament, river rafting, Spanish mission tour, or a visit to Texas vineyards.

An exceptional lineup of expert speakers led sessions dealing with current challenges facing mechanical service contractors. Following were a few of the featured speakers: Eric Chester on managing the new generation of workers; Dave Ridley on putting employees first; Sondra Thiederman on a bias-free workplace; professor Tim Wentz on “Selecting the Best Green Alternatives”; Chip Bell on “Customers as Partners”; Nancy Bandy on “Revealing the Industry’s Best Kept Secrets”; Jeffrey Cochran on “The Power of Nice” in negotiations; and Joel Makower on sustainability.

During the closing session, MSCA members met Jeff McCoy of Mechanical Inc., Freeport, Ill., the newly elected chairman of MSCA’s board of managers who took over at the expiration of Borst’s term.

They also heard the heartwarming story of Jim Morris, the Major League Baseball pitcher who resurrected his pitching career at the age of 35. Morris’ remarkable story was captured in the hit Walt Disney film, “The Rookie.” The UA/MSCA Mobile Classroom of Sustainable Technologies was also on site.

The energy-packed event closed with a Texas hoedown and roundup. Contractors kicked up their boot heels to a country western band. A few learned some new moves on the dance floor, while the more adventurous tried their moves on a mechanical bull.

Those looking for a less-jarring experience should enjoy the 2009 conference, which will take place at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point, Bonita Springs, Fla., Oct. 18-21.

Sidebar: MSCA Stars

Eighteen companies attained the Mechanical Service Contractors of America (MSCA) STAR status in 2008. Each company received a special STAR award for their achievement. A total of 105 companies have received the MSCA STAR.

Russ Borst, MSCA board of managers chairman, (left) stands with 10 of the MSCA STAR recipients (from left to right): Dave Strobino of Willard Limbach, Philadelphia; Jeff Potter of Arden Engineering Constructors LLC, Pawtucket, R.I.; Michael Chick of Midwest Mechanical Service Inc., Kansas City, Mo.; Tom Owens of McIntosh Services, Tulsa, Okla.; Bob Baranowski, Emcor Services Fluidics, Philadelphia; Ralph Boldt of Illingworth Corp., Milwaukee; Rocco Donofrio, Dunbar Mechanical, Toledo, Ohio; Roger Sheahan of Dimech Services Inc., Toledo; Randy Greer of W.L.Gary Co. Inc., Washington, D.C.; and Mark Rogers of West Chester Mechanical Contractors, Chester, Pa.

Other companies that also received MSCA STAR status this year are: B & V Mechanical Inc., Wyoming, Mich.; GHC Mechanical Inc., Elk Grove, Ill.; Mechanical Service Corp., Whippany, N.J.; RuthRauff Service LLC, Pittsburgh; Ruyle Mechanical Services Inc., Peoria, Ill.; Sander Mechanical Service LLC, Branchburg, N.J.; Southwest Town Mechanical, Orland Park, Ill.; and Speer Mechanical, Columbus, Ohio.

Sidebar: A Star Is Born

MSCA GreenStar has been recognized by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) as the first contractor group to establish this type of program. Linda Sorrento of the USGBC was on hand to recognize the following MSCA contractors for qualifying for the GreenStar status. Companies recognized included: W.E. Bowers, Beltsville, Md.; Hurst Mechanical, Belmont, Mich.; T.H. Eifert Co., Lansing, Mich.; The Fagan Company, Kansas City, Kan.; Enginuity, Harrisburg, Pa.; E.B. O’Reilly & Associates, Philadelphia; Current Mechanical, Fort Wayne, Ind.; Midwest Mechanical Service Inc.; Andy Egan Co., Grand Rapids, Mich.; Hill York Service, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Indoor Environmental Services, Sacramento, Calif.; and HMC Service, Louisville, Ky.

Publication date:11/24/2008