If you aren’t pleased with what you encounter at ACCA’s 2014 annual conference in Nashville, Tenn., leaders of the nonprofit, indoor environment and energy services association will refund your money. ACCA president and CEO Paul Stalknecht deemed attendance at the ACCA conference one of the best investments contractors can make.

“We emphasize the word investment,” Stalknecht said. “We are so confident that this investment is worth it, we have a standing money-back guarantee. It is quite simple. If a contractor attends the annual conference and sessions, we guarantee the contractor will pick-up one idea, or learn about one business practice, that the return on investment will far exceed the registration fee. If not, we will refund the registration fee.

“In the 10-plus years we have been offering this money-back guarantee, we have never had anyone even apply for it,” said Stalknecht.

ACCA Attributes

This year’s conference features more MainStage sessions than ever before, the return of the valuable Learning Labs, and a host of other features at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center.

The conference will open Monday with bestselling author Larry Winget, who penned Shut Up, Stop Whining & Get a Life. From there, the doors to the IE3 Expo trade show will open, followed by two Learning Lab sessions, and another round of the IE3 Expo.

“Larry Winget is going to kick things off with his no-holds-barred presentation that is going to motivate attendees to stop just saying they want success, and to actually do the things that will help them achieve success,” Stalknecht said.

Tuesday will open with the Legislative & Policy Forum, followed by the CEO/Contractor Forum, where CEOs from top manufacturing companies will discuss the state of the industry and take questions directly from those in attendance. Visitors may then spend more time at the IE3 Expo, attend more Learning Labs, and partake in the I’ve Got an Idea! MainStage presentation.

Doc Hendley, founder of the Wine to Water charity, will share his story at the Wednesday morning MainStage event, and contractors will be able to attend two more Learning Labs and spend more time at the IE3 Expo. The night will conclude with the The Big Bang event, formerly recognized as the Chairman’s Banquet.

“The Big Bang is part celebration, part rally for contracting success,” Stalknecht said. “Industry visionaries like Bobby Ring and David Kyle will be leading the rally, pumping every contractor up with the enthusiasm that’s needed to make a real difference in a business. Contractors can use this as a launching pad to go back to their businesses and make a real difference.”

The conference will wrap up Thursday morning, with a tour of Opryland’s mechanical systems.

“Every time I go to the conference, I bring some of my coworkers,” said Dave Kyle, president, Trademasters Service Corp., Lorton, Va. “One of my favorite parts of each conference is just watching the synergy those I bring get from attending and what they bring back. What I love, and even though it’s hard, is when someone suggests we should do something new right now. I get so excited when they’re psyched. That’s one of my absolute favorite things about the conference.”

Learning Labs Launch

The Learning Labs at the 2014 ACCA Conference will be slightly revamped this year. Thirty-five sessions spread across seven tracks — residential contracting, commercial contracting, business operations, building performance, leadership, radiant & hydronics, and quality assurance — now have faculty chairs who recruit speakers for their tracks.

“This is an unrivaled group of top-notch contracting professionals from some of the fastest-moving, most innovative, and most profitable companies in our industry,” said Stalknecht. “They worked in teams to develop the Learning Labs for each of our seven education tracks. This year’s program only focuses on what contractors need and want to learn about, because contractors selected the topics and, for the most part, are presenting the topics. Attendees are going to get a lot of real-life examples of what has worked for other successful contractors from across the country.”

Eric Knaak, vice president of operations, Isaac Heating & Air Conditioning, Rochester, N.Y., is the chair of the business operations track and will be presenting, “Breaking the Mold — Methodologies for Improving the Current Condition of Your Company.”

“The last two years, I’ve been on a quality journey,” said Knaak, who is presenting for the third consecutive conference. “I’ve been focusing a lot on quality — not necessarily what we do here at Isaac, but how large companies, corporations, and organizations operate, how they track and improve quality, implement changes — things like that,” Knaak said.

“A lot of contractors are relying on what they think, what they hear, gut instincts. It’s normal, especially in small business. But, large corporations would never be able to survive like that, so they have these methodologies in place to approach things that might come up. It’s just getting people to think differently than they normally would.”

Brian Stack, president, Stack Heating & Cooling, Avon, Ohio, will present “Growing A Successful Hydronics Business” as the chair of the Radiant & Hydronics track. He said he doesn’t think someone has to be in a hydronics market to sell hydronics, something he is looking to introduce to contractors during his session.

“I’m trying to make sure people on the forced-air side of the business have a resource that if they don’t know anything about hydronics, or want to get into the hydronics business, they have a way to learn some basics and get some basic information,” Stack said. “Normally what I find is a lot of the stuff might be over people’s heads if they aren’t familiar with hydronics, so I want to have a quick session that will help people get their feet wet and know what to expect.”

Leadership is always a big topic for contractors, and industry veteran Larry Taylor, owner, AirRite Air Conditioning Co., Fort Worth, Texas, is the respective faculty chair. He is presenting “Who is Providing LIP Service in Your Organization.”

“We’ll talk about a lot of different styles of leadership,” Taylor said. “We’ll examine the differences between a leader and a manager, and similar issues. We’ll also get into innovation as part of leadership, and eventually it all rolls back down into whether or not you have the passion to do all these things. We’ll examine how to keep the passion without burning out.”

IE3 Expo

Contractors also will have the chance to take in the annual IE3 Expo, which is copresented by the Indoor Air Quality Association (IAQA) and will feature more than 200 exhibitors showing off their products to the indoor environment community.

Ken Rothgeb, vice president and general manager, heating and cooling division, Rheem Mfg. Co., said exhibiting at the IE3 Expo, which they’ve done since 2007, allows the company the chance to reach contractors.

“We participate in the ACCA conference because it gives us an opportunity to talk directly to contractors who use our products about Rheem’s latest innovations,” Rothgeb said.

“Rheem is committed to developing new technologies that save energy and money for consumers while delivering the ultimate in home comfort customization and control, and ACCA gives us an opportunity to present these new technologies to the contractors who will be selling and installing our products.”

Tom Jackson, CEO, Jackson Systems LLC, is attending the ACCA Conference for the ninth year. Jackson Systems will serve as a sponsor of the I’ve Got an Idea! MainStage session.

“Members of ACCA are committed to being the highest-caliber, most engaged HVAC contractors,” said Jackson, who enjoys networking with ACCA’s team of top contractors. “They are the industry leaders and actively participate in activities designed to grow the industry as a whole.”

Stalknecht said he simply can’t wait to mingle with all the contractors attending the event.

“ACCA 2014 is an educational event created by contractors, for contractors,” he said. “I get excited to see so many contractors taking the time to leave their businesses for a couple of days to meet with other contractors and get new ideas to make themselves more professional. Attendees are interested in taking their businesses to the next level of success. That shows true commitment to not only a better business, but to a stronger industry overall.”

Publication date: 3/17/2014

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