NASHVILLE — Terry Brock has worked with companies from one-person, hands-in-the-dirt working people to fancy Fortune 10 companies. He’s a business coach who tells it like it is with no baloney. He opened Contracting Week with an audience of technology and business buffs enamored with his presentation — What Your Momma Never Told You About Technology.

Brock’s presentation at the new National HVACR Technology and Business Systems Forum kicked off Contracting Week™, an Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) program that sprang from seeds that were planted about eight years ago. The week consisted of four learning events for HVACR professionals, presented by ACCA and The NEWS.

In addition to the Technology Forum, contractors came for three other events: the new Geothermal Contracting Roundtable, the 4th Annual National HVACR Service Managers Forum, and the first forerunner of Contracting Week, the 8th Annual Commercial Contracting Roundtable. With the scheduled overlap of some of the event meetings, attendees had the opportunity to focus on an individual one-of-a-kind learning experience, two events, or even the entire week.

Not Doing That Yet

Brock caught the audience’s attention with an opening spiel about change and how rapid it has really always been. With a slide of a Pony Express advertisement on the screen, Brock said, “Most people think that the Pony Express was around for a long time. It really only lasted 18 months before it was replaced by telegraph. Relatively speaking, the telegraph didn’t last very long either before the telephone took its place in communications history. Today, those classified as ‘poor,’ the poorest people in the world, can carry a cell phone. But, in 1904, the wealthiest man in the world, Andrew Carnegie, did not have a cell phone. You see, everything changes, and it changes fast.”

Brock said to think about building your team virtually. “If you’re saying ‘I’m not doing that.’ change your thinking to ‘I’m not doing that yet,’ — because things will change.” From that point forward in his keynote presentation, and during Contracting Week, “yet” became a common afterthought to many conversations.

A relatively recent technology term often referred to as The Cloud was also a centerpiece of Brock’s comments. He suggested that accepted forms of communication and business management were changing. Brock then listed numerous benefits of using Cloud tools, many of which are free, for managing one’s business. His examples included some non-traditional tools such as DropBox, Google Docs, YouSendIt, and others for simplifying daily tasks while taking advantage of Cloud resources.

For those who might be hesitant of working in The Cloud, Brock said, “People worry about not knowing where their information is being stored. Do you have money in a bank? That’s been in The Cloud before we knew there was a cloud. Do you think all of your money is in one bank, the bank you initially deposited it with?” Another way to think of it, before electronic banking, people could write a check knowing it would “float” for a few days before the transaction occurred; essentially, another form of working in The Cloud.

Gina Schreck provided a closing keynote for the inaugural National HVACR Technology and Business Systems Forum. The ever-smiling Schreck’s topic was Build Your Business and Manage Your Brand with Today’s Technology. Schreck said, “A digital native is anyone under the age of 30, and a digital immigrant is anyone over the age of 30.” She told the audience this before showing them a video that resides and is constantly updated at The video provides statistical data and trend information validating the importance of social media in branding and communications today. During her entertaining presentation, Schreck provided a number of reasons to use social media as a way for contractors to make money for their businesses.

One interesting social media takeaway from Schreck was the Rule of Three: Be interesting, be helpful, or be quiet. She told the contractors that business owners must shift focus to engaging the community and leading conversations that turn into sales.

Geothermal Roundtable

The keynote speaker for the first-ever Geothermal Contracting Roundtable was Chris Manz of WaterFurnace International. Manz reminded the geo-junkies in the audience that geothermal systems have grown in popularity in recent years and that more customers are asking for them, especially more so in response to the tax credits still available until 2016.

The Geothermal Roundtable was a full day of sessions ranging from drilling best practices, to selling and financing geothermal systems. The sessions were casual as many of the attendees had crossed paths at other geothermal meetings. Manz found that nearly all of those in his session had experience with either WaterFurnace, ClimateMaster, Bosch, or GeoComfort equipment brands.

Old Hands

The heaviest participation was toward the end of Contracting Week, when the more-established Service Managers Forum and Commercial Contracting Roundtable were being held.

One contractor from Dallas, Josh Kahn of Kahn Mechanical, has attended nearly all of the Commercial Contracting Roundtables and said he found this year’s combined events to be very innovative. Kahn also doubled as a presenter on the last day of the Commercial Roundtable event. His session was How Corporate Culture Impacts Organizational Success. Kahn’s focus was on three tenets he holds sacred in business: vision and values, culture of safety, and education initiatives.

Chris Eichelberger kicked off the Service Forum and Commercial Roundtable on Thurday morning with a rousing presentation entitled, Own It! Small Decisions, Big Results. Rousing indeed, as Eichelberger made the audience stand up, shout affirmations, and he himself took to standing atop chairs in the audience when the moment moved him so.

Eichelberger’s main thrust was in how to make the move from good to great, a giant leap according to him. Why? “The formula for failure is committing a few errors in judgement and repeating them every day. People often accept the commonplace errors, but to make the monumental leap to being a great company requires discipline,” said Eichelberger. He noted that in the popular book Good to Great, author Jim Collins said, “Good is the enemy of great.” And, that is what people begin to accept, according to Eichelberger. “The key is to execute a few simple disciplines every day that can transition your company away from the simple errors that are holding you back.”

For more information on Contracting Week or the ACCA Annual Convention in Las Vegas, March 5-8, 2012, visit

Publication date: 11/28/2011