ORLANDO — The Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA) arrived at the Disney Resorts in Orlando recently for some networking, education, and fun.

Outgoing MCAA president Mark Rogers of West Chester Mechanical, Chester, Pa., began the high-energy, four-day convention with a look back at the last 12 months for the MCAA and all it has accomplished. Rogers also spent a great deal of time making a call for everyone in the organization to continue to participate.

“I think our industry’s future depends on the involvement of every person in this ballroom. Why? Because together we are so much more than what we are individually. And because I know that staying successful in this threatening world is tough,” Rogers said. “We have to be on our toes. We have to anticipate what type of pitch will be headed our way. We have to look ahead, identify risks and opportunities, and make our move before those who would eat our lunch have a chance.” Rogers added that “there are threats from a weak economy, from our competitive position versus the open shop, from irrational bidding practices, from governmental policies that could hurt us. We can only address these threats effectively by acting together. And when we do, we can and will succeed.”

With a world that is changing rapidly by the minute, Rogers urged that it was important to stay on top of all the changes so that the business can flourish.

“The great thing about our country is we have choices,” Rogers said. “We have the power to choose. We can choose to educate ourselves about the new technologies and new construction methods that are changing our industry and creating new opportunities like building information modeling, prefabrication, and integrated project delivery. We can choose to bring iPads, iPhones, and iWhatever-is-next into our company to take our productivity to the next level.”

At the end of the convention, Rogers turned the presidency over to William “Mac” Lynch. Lynch is the president of William F. Lynch Co. Inc., a fourth-generation HVAC, service, plumbing, and pipe welding contractor in Worcester, Mass. The contractor stated that he sees education and efficiency as the keys to survival.

Economic Outlook

Between the opening and the closing sessions, there were big-name speakers, instructional education workshops, and some fun in the sun. One speaker that contractors paid close attention to was economist Anirban Basu, chairman and CEO of Sage Policy Group. Basu started by saying despite what you might hear on the evening news, the global economy is in its third year of recovery.

“The broad economy is now in recovery. In 2010, the global economy expanded 5.2 percent, and in 2011 it was 3.8 percent. The U.S. economy expanded 3 percent this year and 1.8 percent in 2011. The recession is over and it has been for some time. When I say this to various audiences it is taken with great skepticism. When I am saying this to construction firms there is great hostility,” Basu joked.

Despite the fact that people might find it hard to tell the recession is over, the broad indicators in the U.S. economic activity prove that in the form of industrial production and gross domestic product (GDP).

“I am not suggesting to you that we have recovered. We have not recovered,” Basu said. “We are still about 6 million jobs poorer than we were in the first month in the recession. The Dow Jones has not rebounded to its all-time high of 14,164. But we are in recovery.”

The U.S. economy has seen 10 consecutive quarters of economic growth. Basu predicts the next two quarters will also show growth, which will put the country in a three-year cycle of recovery.

Basu explained how he believes America has fabulous demographics going for it. When people think of American demographics they often think of the aging of America. But the country also has a young Generation Y, the children of the Baby Boomers, which are great in numbers. The oldest of that generation will turn 32 years old this year. Many are in their late 20s, and Basu believes that will be good for the housing market since that is the time in many people’s lives where they begin to settle down and purchase a home. The economist also pointed out the mortgage rates as positive signs for the housing market.

However, on the commercial side, Basu said there is still much more product than demand.

“We don’t actually begin to see meaningful office space construction until the year 2014 or 2015. And that is because we dug such a hole for ourselves by building too much product,” Basu said.

Big-Time Speakers and Fun

The contractors in attendance also got to hear from featured speaker Jimmy Johnson. The former NFL football coach spoke a great deal about leadership, teamwork, and motivation.

“Treat a person as he is, he will remain as he is. Treat a person as if he were, what he could be and should be, he will become what he could or should be,” Johnson said. “Every one of us sometimes needs to pull back a little bit and think about our relationships with everyone we come in contact with.”

Johnson impressed upon the audience the importance of having a positive attitude. “Your attitude affects their performance. Your attitude affects the relationship you have with your employees,” he said.

In addition to Johnson, the MCAA was treated to a speech from former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who gave his expert opinion on many hot spot regions.

But it was not all learning, as there were plenty of networking opportunities for the contractors. These included an opening party at the Disney Yacht Beach Club, an evening at Epcot Center, and a closing party at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Contractors also were able to learn about new products as the Annual Manufacturer/Supplier Council Exhibit was a popular place to be on Tuesday morning. The event saw 94 exhibitors this year.


MCAA also handed out a few awards at the Annual Convention. Those receiving recognition included the following:

• William Erickson earned the MCAA Distinguished Service Award, the association’s highest honor.

• Illinois State University Mechanical and Electrical Contractors Association was named 2011 Student Chapter of the Year.

• Julie Burg of the Milwaukee School of Engineering received the Foster McCarl Jr. Memorial Scholarship.

• Southern Polytechnic State University won the 2011-12 Student Chapter Competition.

• Blake Wentz of the Milwaukee School of Engineering was named MCAA’s 2011 Educator of the Year.

Publication date: 05/07/2012