ARLINGTON, Va. - The Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) has announced the finalists for the association’s 2010 Contractors of the Year.

“Contractors from across the country of varying size and with many different business models threw their hats into the ring in our redesigned Contractors of the Year program,” said Paul T. Stalknecht, ACCA president and CEO. “These six finalists represent some of the most unique business approaches in the industry, and our panel of past chairmen who are judging have a solid group of finalists from which they can select the winners.”

One winner in each category - residential and commercial - will be announced at the 2010 ACCA Conference, scheduled for March 7-9 in Tampa, Fla. The finalists in the two categories are:

2010 Contractor of the Year-Residential finalists

• A Good Neighbor Heating & Cooling, Middlebury, Ind. - A small company that has thrived despite serving an area with a high unemployment rate and a large Amish population that requires no modern comfort facilities. And when the local newspaper went out of business, the company started its own newspaper to create a marketing machine that serves a broader community purpose.

• Service Legends, Des Moines, Iowa - It may look like a typical HVAC company on the outside, but inside it uses some atypical approaches to building a properly-incentivized team. Service Legends lets the employees develop the company’s systems, resulting in a sophisticated approach to performance-based pay and the type of continuing education that has service techs standing up in front of the company to give book reports.

• Conditioned Air Corp., Naples, Fla. - A company that grew its annual sales by a total of $15 million when it decided to stop being an HVAC company and start being a true business that happens to offer HVAC services. With disciplined decision making and open-book management, Conditioned Air is able to quickly adjust to changing market conditions. The company’s growth is the result of having a solid, conservative business plan in place, and then empowering employees to make decisions to drive that plan.

2010 Contractor of the Year-Commercial finalists

• MSI Mechanical, Salem, N.H. - Tired of bringing in new employees with bad habits, or fighting among competitors for vocational school grads, MSI created its own co-op program to turn high school students into well-trained techs. The students train for the entire school year, and then the company hires them full-time upon graduation.

• Blackall Mechanical, Farmers Branch, Texas - This Dallas-based contractor makes communication a priority in its business plan, and consistently evaluates the ways in which appropriate technology can be integrated to increase sales and customer relations. An $80 per month investment in video e-mails landed the company $60,000 in revenue from one client alone, and being open-minded to online social networking has resulted in a new stream of leads.

• TAG Mechanical, Syracuse, N.Y. - Some say business is about who you know, but TAG Mechanical has made it about how much you know. With a focus to stay on the cutting-edge of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and other energy efficiency initiatives, TAG has made itself a building science expert to customers, having its employees become trained and certified in specialties that fall outside the realm of traditional HVACR.

For more information about the ACCA awards program, visit

Publication date:01/25/2010