BOCA RATON, Fla. — The Mechanical Services Contractors of America (MSCA) pushed its members to “go beyond their limits” at its 2013 conference, which turned out to be the most well-attended event in the association’s history.

Author and speaker Thom Singer introduced himself as the event’s master of ceremonies and discussed his role as the audience’s guide to getting the most out of the conference. Board of manager’s chairman Robert Lake of EMCOR Services Mesa Energy Systems, Irvine, Calif., followed Singer, to present the D.S. O’Brien Award of Excellence to David Bavisotto of Illingworth-Kilgust Mechanical Inc., West Allis, Wis.

The D.S. O’Brien Award of Excellence was established by MSCA in 2000 to recognize those individuals who exhibit extraordinary dedication and outstanding commitment to the mechanical service contracting industry and to MSCA.

“He is a true leader among his peers; has demonstrated unsurpassed loyalty and commitment to MSCA; and his energy, enthusiasm, and passion on behalf of MSCA is obvious to all who meet him,” said Lake. “Through his leadership and guidance, MSCA has achieved many commendable milestones and, to this day, he continues to play a very active and instrumental role.”

Bavisotto has almost 25 years of experience in the mechanical service contracting field. In his role at Illingworth-Kilgust, he is responsible for overseeing and leading the strategic direction of the service division, identifying new business opportunities, directing planning activities, and establishing organizational policies and procedures. He serves on the MSCA education committee, was a member of the MSCA board of managers for six years, and served as chairman of the board in 2009.

New officers for MSCA were introduced at the conclusion of the conference’s business session. Richard A. Starr was named chairman of the MSCA board of managers; Scott Berger, vice chairman; and James Bartolotta, treasurer.


Visibility coach David Avrin talked to attendees about getting a competitive advantage by looking at your business with fresh eyes.

“Branding is everything we do to effect how people think about us,” Avrin said. “It is what we do to put an image into your mind. It is what you are known for.”

Avrin drove home the point that you need to be a leading authority for something. If a company says they specialize in everything, there is a pretty good chance that they specialize in nothing.

“We want to be the leading authority for X. What do you aspire to? What is the goal? We want to build to that point. What is missing in the gap between where you are and where you want to go? Everything you do you measure against that goal. We don’t have a shortage of good ideas in organizations, but there is a shortage of time to implement everything,” Avrin said.

Avrin was quick to point out that you can still offer a broad spectrum of services, but you have to be the best choice for something.

At this session, contractors also learned that they need to make a better argument to their customers.

“Most of what you say is true, it is just not compelling,” Avrin said.

He suggested doing an informal competitive analysis of your market. To do this, you take everything you have — brochures, Web pages, scripts for salespeople — and spread it out on a conference room table. You then take your top two or three competitors and take all their stuff and spread it out on the table so you can compare and contrast.

“How do you know how to compete against a competitor until you know how they are competing against you,” Avrin asked. “You will be stunned at how similar their claims are to yours. I have news for you. Being really good at what you do is the entry fee. It allows you to do business in the marketplace. Your customers are hearing the same things.”

Avrin said there is a mistaken belief that everyone is trying to make the best choice possible. He believes the reality is that people are looking to avoid making a bad decision. They are hiring a contractor to be their safety net so they don’t have to worry about it.

“The four most dangerous words in business are ‘all things being equal.’ When everything is the same, and everyone is good, we shop on price. Who aspires to be the low-price leader in their category? When your clients think everything is the same, they will hammer you on price. Price will always be an issue, but, as long as you are competitive, they will look at other items. Nothing is ever equal,” Avrin said.

Trade Show

The conference’s exhibitor’s display was at full capacity, with 50 companies and organizations displaying their wares and discussing the benefits of their industry-specific services. In addition, the conference had its second annual MSCA children’s feeding initiative packing party, conducted in conjunction with Convoy of Hope. Dozens of volunteer spouses helped with the assembly and packing of 72,000 bags of beans to benefit needy children around the world.

Publication date: 1/20/2014 

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