When Dave Kyle started his company, Trademasters Service Corp. back in 1990, it was just him and his wife, Beth, running the business from their basement. While he excelled at fixing furnaces and servicing air conditioners, he admittedly didn’t know much about running a business.
That’s precisely the reason he joined ACCA two years later. Now, a little more than two decades since his first year with the nonprofit indoor environment and energy services organization, he’s reached the pinnacle as Kyle will be installed as the 2014 ACCA chair this week at the 2014 ACCA Conference in Nashville, Tenn.
“We were the quintessential small business,” Kyle said. “You want to pursue your vocation, but you don’t know how to run a business. That’s why I joined. I went to my local chapter and started learning from there. From being in the room with some of the best local contractors, I learned how to be a better contractor and how to run a business.”
Kyle continued attending ACCA meetings and now boasts nearly 10 years of experience as an ACCA board member. His first thought after learning that he was elected as chairman was, “don’t panic,” which then transitioned into, “what are they thinking?” he joked.
“I’ve been really, really blessed with this trade and this industry,” Kyle said. “It’s made a real difference in my life and the life of my family. You want to give back — you want to put something back in the industry that’s been so good to you.”
ACCA president and CEO Paul Stalknecht believes Kyle is the right man for the job and is looking forward to seeing what he can accomplish for the association in 2014.
“Dave Kyle is a great leader and we believe this will be an exciting year,” Stalknecht said. “Dave has a terrific story of starting his company in his basement and growing it by leaps and bounds, thanks to ACCA’s resources. He also has a real enthusiasm for moving this industry forward, from the old days of box-installing air conditioning contractors to the new day of an integrated indoor environment and energy services community.”
Reaching the Top
Since the early 1990s, Kyle has had a sign stuck to a wall in his office. It reads, simply, “Character is destiny.” The quote, from the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, has stuck with Kyle and made a major impact on his life and business. No matter how many imperfections the banner has gained over the years, its message has lived on and stayed strong with Kyle throughout the years.
“When I’ve struggled with stuff, had problems, or had to reflect on something, I look at that and realize that’s what’s important, and that’s helped me develop all sorts of other business strategies,” Kyle said. “It spoke to me, it really did. I printed it out and stuck it on the wall. It’s got a million thumbtack prints in it from being moved around across the years. It’s on my business card. Things change, business changes, and cultures change, but the character and principles of a business should be unchanging.”
Trademasters had just three employees when Kyle signed the company up for ACCA membership. Now, they’re rolling with more than 50.
“I’ve learned so much by being associated with the National Capital chapter and the national board, that our business has just grown multitudes of times,” Kyle said. “I can’t even describe how much we’ve grown the last 20 years.”
Preparing for Duty
As senior vice chair, Kyle worked closely with 2013 ACCA chairman Bobby Ring, president and CEO, Meyer & Depew Co. Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., throughout the year to get ready for the position. Kyle and Ring both have similar views on the importance of contracting business skills.
“What’s great about Bobby is he’s a fantastic communicator, really accessible,” Kyle said. “Bobby and I have a lot of the same passion to help contractors run better businesses. A lot of businesses in ACCA — just as we started out — are passionate about their vocation, very good technically, but encountered a lot of challenges in running a business. I contend it’s never fixing mechanical systems that put a business out of business — it’s business issues that get them in trouble. That’s the real challenge.”
Combined, the two have a lot of experience in the industry, something that should set Kyle up for a successful year as chairman, just as it did Ring. The support the two have, though, is something that is very important.
“Both Bobby and Dave have served on the national board of directors for many years together, and they both have a strong vision for where the association is heading,” Stalknecht said. “They are lucky to be supported by a board with a real commitment to professional contracting and the national ACCA brand. They come together in developing a long-term strategic plan that keeps our operations focused. The contracting industry is very fortunate to have so many hard-working, passionate volunteers guiding its trade organization, ACCA.”
Ellis Guiles, vice president, TAG Mechanical Systems, Syracuse, N.Y., and a member of the ACCA board of directors, said he expects Kyle’s term as chair to be exciting and dynamic, noting Kyle is as energetic and enthusiastic as they come.
“I think it’s going to be a lot of fun,” Guiles said. “That’s one of the things I enjoy most about ACCA is the different types and ways people do things that proves to be really interesting, how they bring their individual personalities to the board. Bobby Ring has lots of energy, is very passionate about politics, and enjoys getting contractors the right skills training so they can be successful. Then you have Dave, who’s very similar. He has a couple of key interest areas as well, especially when it comes to getting the next generation of people engaged in our business. What I see coming with Dave is a real focus to build a real connection to the next generation of people coming through to get them engaged in what we do every day.”
Although his term is only just beginning, Kyle is hopeful that at the end of the year he’ll have made a positive impact on people in the industry and those who surround them, as well.
“I’m in this position for the contractors, and not just for our member contractors, but the people within their business and their families,” Kyle said. “You really want this to be a win-win, where, in helping contractors develop better businesses, it’s better for their customers and the economy. I’m hoping the direction we continue to go in makes it better for the contractor, better for their people, and better for their families.”
The experience Kyle brings to the table leaves little doubt in the minds of ACCA members that he’ll do big things as chairman.
“He has a real passion for this business,” Guiles said.
Publication date: 3/17/2014