The educational program presented at the annual conference will emphasize the real-world challenges and opportunities that are regularly presented to the HVACR contracting industry.
 SAN ANTONIO, Texas - The Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) will be offering seven education tracks during its 43rd Annual Conference and Indoor Air Expo, taking place from Feb. 15-17. These tracks include Business Fundamentals; Residential Contracting; Commercial Contracting; Technical Excellence; Contracting Leadership; Refrigeration; and Quality Assurance. The more than 30 specialized learning labs within these tracks will be led by industry experts who will educate attendees by creating an environment of discussion and collaboration.

In addition to the numerous workshops, a special pre-conference seminar will take place Tuesday, Feb. 15 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., regarding U.S. EPA’s significantly revamped Energy Star™ for Qualified New Homes Program (version 3). New homebuilder requirements dictate that Energy Star qualified new homes must have HVAC equipment installed per the ACCA 5 Quality Installation (QI) Standard. This seminar will cover how to install HVAC systems per the ACCA 5 Quality Installation Standard; adhere to good business practices outlined in the Quality Assured Contractor Elements; ensure consistent field operations; and conduct internal self-assessment and quality assurance programs.

Several general sessions are also scheduled for the conference, designed to motivate ACCA members and get them ready to implement their newly learned skills back at the office. At the opening general session, Ross Shafer, innovative business thinker, will discuss how the global recession has accelerated the decline and extinction of many companies, as well redefined the ways smart companies will be successful in the recovery phase. Shafer will outline the warning signs that have been ignored by declining companies so that members can make sure they are on the path to success.

In the closing session, Bruce Wilkinson will show members how to put brilliant ideas into practice, so that attendees can turn their 2011 ACCA conference experience into a lifetime of opportunity.


As noted previously, the conference will have seven different education tracks. The Business Fundamentals track will help contractors get back to the basics and refine the processes that make every business thrive. “We developed this education track to help contractors improve their companies’ day-to-day business and bottom lines,” said Kevin Holland, senior vice president of business operations and membership, ACCA. “These workshops are geared towards new contractors and contractors that want a refresher to help move them to the next level of success.”

One of the workshops included in this track is entitled “Hiring and Firing,” which will be presented by Mark Swepston and Greg Benua, Atlas Butler Heating and Cooling, Columbus, Ohio. This workshop will give owners and HR people insight into the hiring process all the way from recruiting to dismissal. It will cover key points such as the need to always be recruiting; how to build career paths; and the role owners and managers must take in the process. Swepston and Benua will also share the success and struggles their company has experienced while growing to over 100 employees.

Another learning lab in the Business Fundamentals track is entitled “Pricing for Profit.” In this workshop, Drew Cameron, HVAC Sellutions, will give eye-opening insight into pricing strategies for residential add-on, replacement sales, IAQ, and whole-house performance sales. Attendees will learn how to take a sales approach to pricing to drive sales and profit performance, while differentiating offerings. Cameron will also explain bundling and developing tiers of product/service packages as a way to shift the mix of products sold and drive sales.

The Residential and Commercial Contracting tracks are two of the most popular tracks that take place during the conference. Both tracks focus on the unique opportunities and challenges contractors face in each sector of business. “Each year we try to provide the most relevant and thought provoking workshops in these two tracks,” said Holland. “We tailor these workshops to help contractors find new solutions to their everyday challenges, so they will be more successful after they return home.”

In the Residential track, attendees can look forward to a workshop entitled, “Why Do 80% of Google Ad Campaigns Fail? ... and Other Search Engine Secrets to Get You More Homeowner Leads,” presented by Greg McAfee, McAfee Heating & Air Conditioning Co. Inc., Kettering, Ohio. This workshop will help contractors figure out how to build a brand for their company that leaves them top of mind for their customers. McAfee will offer practical insight and facilitate an open-ended discussion around having a successful branding strategy to drive steady growth in revenue and market share.

In the workshop, “Getting Maximum Replacements From Your Customer Base,” Matt Maleske, SBC Global, will help contractors get that “silver bullet” they are looking for - how to get more replacement sales without spending a fortune. Maleske will teach contractors ways to turn current customers into their best leads to sell more and how to maximize every opportunity.

ACCA’s Annual Conference will include more than 30 specialized learning labs that will be led by industry experts who will educate attendees by creating an environment of discussion and collaboration.

 In the Commercial track, attendees can look forward to “Small Business, Big Money: Landing Government Contracts,” led by Dave Kyle, Trademasters Service Corp., Newington, Va. This workshop will help contractors navigate the process of bidding on jobs for the federal government. Kyle will share his experiences with bidding on contracts over the past 10-plus years, and explain how contractors can get started selling goods and services from simple service calls to multi-million dollar projects.

The technical side of business is complex and rapidly changing, which is why the Technical Excellence track is an important part of the conference. This track provides information designed to help contractors gain the competitive edge in their markets. “There is a lot of focus in the HVAC industry on energy efficiency, which changes the technology available and the codes that contractors must follow,” said Holland. “This track is designed to help contractors understand the changes and updates, so they can implement them into their processes seamlessly, while staying ahead of the curve.”

In this track, Jeff Persons, Geo Source One, Plain City, Ohio, will present a workshop entitled “Geothermal Project Management.” This workshop will help contractors decide whether getting into the geothermal field is the right choice for them. Persons will explain how to plan geothermal projects and share some real life mistakes and omissions that will help attendees save time and money.

Another interesting seminar, “Net Zero: Building Zero or Building Max!”, presented by Ellis Guiles, TAG Mechanical, Syracuse, N.Y., will teach contractors an easy-to-follow and practical way to design and build net zero buildings. Guiles has no gimmicks or tricks to share, just a formula to, “astonish your friends, dazzle your customers, and put more money in your pocket!”

In addition, contractor Greg Gill of Action Air Heating and Cooling, San Marcos, Calif., will present a workshop on how to get started in the solar field, and industry expert Hank Rutkowski will present a workshop on zoning in residential buildings.

In the Contracting Leadership track, owners and senior-level employees will learn how to deal with some of the challenges they face. “This new track was created to cover more advanced topics that contractors need, but may not always be available to them,” said Holland. “The topics covered will help contractors with current success and help them plan for the future of their business.”

A workshop not to be missed in this track is “You Are Not a Contractor!”, led by Theo Etzel, Conditioned Air Corp, Naples, Fla., Louis Hobaica, Hobaica Services Inc., Phoenix, and Stan Johnson, Stan’s Heating & Air Conditioning Inc., Austin, Texas. This panel of distinguished contractors will present various business strategies and specific business philosophies designed to show that being a business first, through discipline, planning, systems, procedures, and the right personnel, and then focusing on products and services will allow contractors to have sustained success.

In the workshop, “Listening for Leadership,” Jamie Gerdsen, Apollo Heating & Air Conditioning Co. Inc., Cincinnati, will discuss why it is important for leaders in business to listen. Attendees of this workshop will participate in discussions about common traits that memorable leaders embody and how they achieved success, and define their personality type and how that type affects their leadership style.

The new Refrigeration track will delve into the opportunities and challenges that contractors face when working in refrigeration. “We had great success with the Refrigeration Contracting Roundtable during Contracting Week last fall and realized that refrigeration contractors wanted more training because there isn’t enough out there geared towards them,” said Holland.

One of the workshops in this track, “Commercial System Retrofits,” led by Danny Halel, Hussmann Corp., will cover the requirements of retrofits for commercial refrigeration systems; specifically energy concerns, leak- age concerns, and component changeovers. In the workshop, “Supermarket Refrigeration Systems,” John Gallaher from Hill Phoenix will discuss technology advances in supermarket systems, as well as the various installation and service opportunities for the different system types.

The final track - Quality Assurance - will explore different strategies, means, and methods HVAC contractors and raters can employ to their mutual benefit as Energy Star v3 is launched. ACCA staff will lead several workshops, including QA Resources-Implementation Tools and Template and Q&As for QA and ES.

In addition, Eric Woerner and Denny Patterson, Airtron Inc., Daytona Beach, Fla., will present “Improving Your Quality Processes Through QC,” which will discuss the implementation of ACCA’s Quality Assured program. The presenters will share some of the potential pitfalls and secrets to success of implementing QA/QI practices and processes into a profitable HVAC company.


In addition to the learning labs, several popular events will return to the conference this year as well.

In the CEO/Contractor Forum, sponsored by The NEWS, the chief executives from the HVACR industry’s top manufacturers will come together in a special forum with the contracting community. This year the CEOs will take questions directly from the audience and engage with contractors on issues of top concern to the entire industry, including the economy, utility and tax incentives, new regional standards, and much more.

The “I’ve Got an Idea!” event also returns. Contractor Bobby Ring, Meyer and Depew, Kenilworth, N.J., will lead this dynamic discussion with contractors who share their best business ideas (and, occasionally, some of their biggest mistakes).

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Publication date: 02/14/2011