With more than 2,400 contractors attending the recent 2012 ACCA Annual Conference and Indoor Air Expo in Las Vegas, the event lived up to its “Raise the Stakes” billing.

It started with ACCA president and CEO Paul Stalknecht pushing the association’s chips to the middle of the table by unveiling a new mission for ACCA: “To lead America’s professional indoor environment and energy contractors to business success.” He then revealed the new vision of ACCA, which states in part, “ACCA will proactively represent the professional indoor environment and energy community.” Stalknecht also said many of the association’s members had urged ACCA to “take control of the building performance field,” which led to the formation of the ACCA Building Performance Council under the chairmanship of Ellis Guiles of Tag Mechanical Systems. Stalknecht predicted this new council would quickly become the nation’s largest home performance contracting organization.

Home performance contracting continued to take center stage at the expo, during the general sessions, and even in several “learning lab” seminars.

More Home Performance

Eight of the breakout sessions were devoted to building performance, home performance contracting, or quality installations. One of the sessions, “Generating Business with Building Science,” focused on home and duct performance contracting and was led by Brendan Reid, CEO of Comfort Institute Inc., a company that offers training classes, coaching, specialty repair materials, and diagnostic testing instruments. Reid, who claimed his company was the first home performance training organization for the HVAC industry, urged contractor attendees to get involved with home and duct performance contracting so they could provide specific diagnostic testing for their HVAC customers rather than just “educated guessing.”

Reid provided a long list of benefits for contractors that become home performance specialists, including improved customer satisfaction, fewer callbacks, more referrals, differentiation from competition, and a reputation in the market as a problem solver. He claimed contractors that offered home and duct performance services as part of their replacement experienced a $5,000-$10,000 increase in the average job size and others used this new business to help fill in during the traditional slow seasons.

Joining the Comfort Institute as exhibitors at the Indoor Air Expo were two franchise-based organizations, Green Homes America and Dr. Energy Saver. Green Homes America is a Linc Group Co. headquartered in Irvine, Calif., and according to company literature, “GHA enables established residential contractors to easily add home performance solutions to their business.” In addition to consultation and training, the organization offers operating procedures for all aspects of home performance including marketing, home energy assessments, sales, installation, operations, and government programs. New franchisees also travel to the flagship location in Syracuse, N.Y., to learn firsthand about all aspects of home performance contracting.

Dr. Energy Saver was started by Larry Janesky, a former carpenter, homebuilder, and founder of Basement Systems Inc., and Tom Casey, owner of Climate Partners, an HVAC contracting firm. According to literature provided at the booth, “Dr. Energy Saver is flexible and can be a ‘bolt-on’ to a successful business or run as a standalone opportunity.” The company provides three informational DVDs to interested contractors titled: “Franchise Testimonials,” “Home Energy Business Opportunity,” and “Why Dr. Energy Saver.” It also touts a five-day training boot camp at its National Energy Training Center that includes classroom work, multimedia learning, and full-scale interactive displays.

Carrier Corp. also decided to make home performance contracting a priority by announcing its new Energy Experts program at the Indoor Air Expo. The nationwide program for the company’s factory authorized dealers includes the Carrier 360˚ whole-home energy audit, which includes a six-step assessment of the home, including inspections, testing, analysis, recommendations, resolution, and results on the HVAC system, air filtration/distribution, and home envelope. Carrier Energy Experts will conduct the audit using technology tools such as thermal imaging cameras, blower door testing equipment, and static pressure gauges.

Chris Nelson, vice president, sales and marketing, Carrier Residential and Commercial Systems, said, “We believe the home performance movement is a big driver in our business, and moving forward it will only become larger and larger.”

New Board Members

ACCA also used the conference to install its 2012-13 board of directors. Last year’s chairman, Joe Nichter of Comfort Systems USA Southwest in Chandler, Ariz., handed the leadership role to incoming chairman Laura DiFilippo of DiFilippo’s Service Co. in Paoli, Pa. DiFilippo will serve a one-year term.

“It was another exciting, but busy year, and with Joe Nichter’s leadership, ACCA has been able to overcome the challenges and move forward on its path of success,” said Stalknecht. “Laura DiFilippo now brings a new energy and outlook to continue the association down the path that has been set, while adding her own goals. The members can be confident that ACCA is prepared for another productive and successful year.”

Serving as senior vice chairman this year is Bobby Ring, Meyer & Depew Co. Inc. of Kenilworth, N.J., and secretary/treasurer for the coming year is Dave Kyle, Trademasters Service Corp., Newington, Va. Other vice chairmen are Rich Imfeld, IC Refrigeration, Ceres, Calif.; Don Langston, Aire Rite Air Conditioning, Huntington Beach, Calif.; and Phil London, Thermal Concepts Inc., Davie, Fla. Nichter will serve this year as immediate past chairman.

Publication date: 4/16/2012