Paul Wadsworth, president of P.K. Wadsworth Heating and Cooling, Solon, Ohio, stopped to visit with Brandon Bohannan of JB and Associates, during the ACCA Indoor Air Expo in San Antonio. JB and Associates offers an extended warranty program that is available direct to contractors.

SAN ANTONIO - For three days in February, a buzz about the HVACR industry brightened the famed River Walk of the seventh largest city in the United States. The 43rd Annual ACCA Conference and Indoor Air Expo of the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) attracted a record number of people to the Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center. Attendees were considerably upbeat about the recovery from the recent recession, which had redefined the way organizations have approached business in the last two years.

The program actually began with a pre-conference session on quality assurance accreditation, a benchmark signature program of ACCA that raises the bar of performance in the industry. Later that same day, the opening general session and one learning lab session preceded the opening reception held in the Indoor Air Expo. The opening day was jammed with information and networking opportunities, and the remainder of the meeting followed that pattern.

The Indoor Air Quality Association (IAQA) and Radiant Professionals Alliance (RPA) held their respective annual conventions at the same time as the ACCA event in San Antonio. Attendees at each organization’s event had the option of attending breakout workshops that the other organizations held.

More than 35 breakout sessions (learning labs) were available, some scheduled multiple times during the program. Learning labs during the three-day program were grouped according to topics that included residential success, commercial success, and business fundamentals. In addition, several special sessions were attended by nearly all attendees in larger ballroom settings - the CEO/Contractor Forum, the Town Hall Meeting, a member-only function, and the ever-popular I’ve Got an Idea workshop.

Networking luncheons for contractors and suppliers took place during both days of the expo. The expo attracted more than 200 exhibiting companies, making it one of the largest industry trade shows representing the indoor environmental and energy services industry.

“The Indoor Air Expo has grown significantly since ACCA and IAQA have joined together. Adding RPA just made sense, because we are creating the biggest source of education, networking, and learning opportunities for all of our members,” said Paul Stalknecht, ACCA president and CEO. “We were thrilled about having so many contractors, suppliers, and manufacturers in one place at one time.”


During the opening session, the attendees laughed and learned while Ross Shafer, a six-time Emmy Award-winning comedian and writer, described what it will take for organizations to take advantage of incredible growth opportunities during the recovery.

Shafer, borrowing a phrase from his father, told contractors during his keynote “Who Wins During a Recovery?” that it is always easier to ride a horse in the direction it is going.

“Follow the trend of where businesses are going,” said Shafer. “Trends do not sneak up on us, they are there for the taking. Take Sony for example: It had the corporate structure in place to be big in the Internet music business, only to lose out to a computer company - Apple, which created iTunes. How did that happen?”

Shafer suggested that if a company wants to grow its business in a zero-sum firm (one that has definite growth limitations either because of its products or services), “You have to take it away from somebody else who is lazy.”

He peppered his comments with unique and entertaining video segments about every 10 minutes that brought home his points. A few were actual scenes from Shafer’s own television endeavors, and all brought laughter from the crowd. One segment was the first television appearance of Bill Nye the Science Guy, an impromptu filler for a guest star who failed to show for taping at the last minute. Interestingly, The Science Guy went on to become a very popular series that originated with Shafer.

Shafer often made the audience think seriously with his humorous barbs. While talking about how a variety of people deal with change, he said, “If you don’t like change, you are really going to hate extinction.” It was at this juncture where he discussed strategies for dealing with the impending recovery. One, he said, is that contractors should not be afraid to raise their prices. “This is not 2008 anymore,” said Shafer, “the economy is getting better.”

John Sedine, (left) chairman of ACCA, presents Connie Montalvo, the lead librarian of the Harlandale ISD in San Antonio, with donations of books and a check for the Reading is Fundamental program. Hilary Atkins, senior vice president of finance and administration for ACCA, said, “ACCA feels strongly that our Throw a Book in Your Bag campaign is a way for conference attendees to give back to the cities we visit.”


The outgoing ACCA board of directors passed the proverbial gavel to the 2011-12 leadership during the conference. John Sedine of Engineered Heating & Cooling in Walker, Mich., turned over the top spot to incoming chair Joe Nichter of Comfort Systems USA Southwest in Chandler, Ariz.

The new board includes Laura DiFilippo of DiFilippo Service Company, Inc. as senior vice chairman; Bobby Ring of Meyer & DePew Co., Inc. as secretary/treasurer; and Rich Imfeld of IC Refrigeration, Dave Kyle of Trademasters Service Corp., and Phil London of Thermal Concepts Inc. as vice chairmen. Sedine will stay on board as immediate past chairman.

During the annual Chairman’s Banquet, Sedine thanked his officers and ACCA staff, and encouraged members to continue the hard-fought battle he waged during his tenure. “Last year I said that I was calling the upcoming year, 2010, an HVAC Odyssey, and I think you will agree that it has been that and more,” said Sedine. “It has been my honor and great pleasure to serve the association, and while I will no longer be chairman, I will stay involved in ACCA because it is my association and there is no other association like it. It has made both my company and me better.”

Sedine handed over the reins of the chairmanship to Nichter, who addressed the membership.

“My goal for ACCA this year is to be recognized as the national solution and resource provider for mechanical expertise,” said Nichter. “We will pursue excellence at every level; the results will produce the type of association that is recognized for providing solutions and respected by all. These solutions will contribute to the implementation of our strategic plan and will always have the interests of our members as the top priority. This is my commitment to you as chairman.”

Ross Shafer, a six-time Emmy Award winning comedian and writer, told the ACCA audience what it will take for organizations to take advantage of incredible growth opportunities in the very near future. He encouraged ACCA members to follow the trend of where businesses are going during an economic recovery.


For the eighth year, ACCA organized a children’s book donation drive during the conference and Indoor Air Expo.

“ACCA feels strongly that the Throw a Book in Your Bag campaign is a way for conference attendees to give back to the cities we visit,” said Hilary Atkins, senior vice president of finance and administration for ACCA. “Each year our members bring books with them to support the campaign. This year more book and money donations than ever before flowed in from across the country, making 2011 another record-breaking year.”

Reading is Fundamental (RIF) prepares and motivates children to read by delivering free books and literacy resources to those children and families who need them most. Founded in 1966, RIF is the oldest and largest children’s and family nonprofit literacy organization in the United States. RIF’s highest priority is reaching underserved children from birth to age eight. Through community volunteers in every state and the U.S. territories, RIF provides 4.5 million children with 16 million new, free books and literacy resources each year.

ACCA’s 44th Annual Conference will be held March 5-8, 2012 in Las Vegas.

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Publication date:04/25/2011