Members of the Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA) will travel to Lake Buena Vista, Fla., in March to not only enjoy some fun in the sun, but more importantly learn how to improve their businesses and navigate the challenges for the coming year. MCAA anticipates around 2,000 convention attendees for the event to be held March 18-22.

“Attendees at the MCAA 2012 convention will benefit from both state-of-the-art educational offerings that will make their business more competitive and profitable as well as networking opportunities with the industry’s premier mechanical contractors, manufacturers, and suppliers,” said Adrienne Breedlove, MCAA director of publications. “As always, MCAA contractors will find many bottom-line benefits that help their companies continue to perform at the highest level.”

The three major topics that MCAA will be addressing with contractors are the economic outlook and upcoming market opportunities, the latest technological developments in the industry, and cutting-edge leadership and management skills. This will be accomplished with an array of prominent speakers and breakout education sessions.

“At every MCAA conference I’ve attended, I’ve learned so much that has benefited me — and the people I work with — personally and professionally,” said Mark Rogers, MCAA president. “MCAA’s annual convention is the only occasion when our industry’s greatest minds come together to celebrate our successes and plan for the future. It’s also a chance to network with colleagues and share new ideas, perspectives, energy, and enthusiasm that can make us stronger as an industry.

National Speakers

Once again MCAA has lined up some heavyweight national speakers. Those scheduled to present include:

• Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. He was Secretary of Defense under two consecutive administrations and director of the Central Intelligence Agency following more than two decades as a career intelligence officer. In recognition of his many contributions to America’s security, Gates was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

• Broadcast journalist Bob Schieffer. Best known as moderator of CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Schieffer has anchored the “CBS Evening News” and is also CBS News’ chief Washington correspondent. He has covered every presidential campaign since 1972.

• Former NFL coach Jimmy Johnson. Johnson coached the Dallas Cowboys to consecutive victories in Super Bowls XXVII and XXVIII. The former Miami Dolphins coach is a current member of the “Fox NFL Sunday” team. He is also an alum of CBS’ “Survivor: Nicaragua.”

There will also be an MCAA Student Chapter Competition at the event. Four finalist teams will make oral presentations of their written bid proposals at the competition. The teams are from California State University at Sacramento; Illinois State University; Milwaukee School of Engineering; and Southern Polytechnic State University.

These finalists were chosen after a panel of judges convened on Jan. 12 to read, discuss, and score the written proposals submitted by 26 MCAA student chapters and a student chapter sponsored by the MCA of Hamilton in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. The oral presentations will be evaluated by a different panel of judges according to the following criteria: overall quality of the oral presentation (30 percent); feasibility of project management, organization and schedule (30 percent); accuracy and completeness of project costs (30 percent); and answers to the judges’ questions (10 percent).

Each finalist team will have 20 minutes to convince the judges that they are best qualified to perform the proposed work on the project — 15 minutes for a formal oral presentation, and 5 minutes responding to the judges’ questions. Each team’s standing will be determined on a combination of their oral and written scores.

This year’s competition is based on an actual project performed by the Marelich Mechanical Co. Inc. (Hayward, Calif.). The project involves the HVAC and plumbing systems work on the renovation and remodeling of a 165,000-square-foot historical building. The building, which is located in San Francisco, was transformed from a library into the Asian Art Museum.

Finalists will compete for a $5,000 first-place prize. The second-place team will receive $2,500, and each of the other teams will receive $1,000.

Social Time

MCAA’s convention wouldn’t be complete without an opportunity to connect with friends and colleagues. MCAA has planned three special evening social events celebrating the unique features of this year’s convention location, the Walt Disney World® Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

At the opening “Celebrate the Spirit of the Animal Kingdom®” party, the magic of Disney will combine with the miracles of Mother Nature in a festive celebration of delicious food, fun, and a delightful dance of Disney characters. Wednesday’s “An Evening at Epcot® and IllumiNations” event offers friends and families an opportunity to explore the attractions at Disney’s celebrated Epcot® park before they gather for coffee and treats as the sky above them explodes with a blaze of lights and thunderous music.

And everyone will feel like a Hollywood celebrity during the convention’s final social event, “A Night at Disney’s Hollywood Studios®,” which will include a delicious dinner fit for movie moguls as guests mingle on the backlots of the studios that have produced some of Disney’s most memorable films. The evening will end with a surprising and exciting glow.

Publication date: 02/06/2012