ACCA’s 2015 annual conference returns this year with everybody’s favorite Learning Labs, MainStage sessions, and a multitude of other features. The indoor environment and energy services association’s 47th annual event will take place March 16-19 at the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine, Texas.

According to the association, ACCA 2015 is the largest educational event for the HVACR contracting industry and helps contractors increase their bottom lines, expand into new markets, and find new ways to motivate employees.

“We’ve once again built a diverse learning lab program that covers almost every area of a contractor’s business,” said Paul Stalknecht, president and CEO, ACCA. “From commercial, residential, building-performance, and hydronics topics to marketing, quality assurance, leadership, and business operations, there will be information that will help contractors improve their operations and bottom lines.”

Prestigious Presenters

ACCA is bringing back one of its most popular keynote speakers, Lowell Catlett, a professor and dean at New Mexico State University, for its opening MainStage session.

“He is like no economist you’ve ever encountered before. He will give attendees a unique and honest look at the future of the economy,” Stalknecht said.

Business guru Michael Gerber will also be presenting at ACCA 2015. Gerber, author of “The E-Myth,” will share new principles and approaches to help contractors turn their small businesses into success stories. Gerber will also be signing books in the ACCA booth on the IE3 Expo Hall floor, granting contractors an opportunity to meet him and ask questions.

Learning Labs and More

Once again, ACCA has assembled a panel of contracting professionals to present a total of 33 Learning Lab sessions in seven different program tracks.

Eric Knaack, vice president of operations, Isaac Heating & Air Conditioning, Rochester, New York, said he finds the Learning Labs extremely valuable.

“The things they go over in the different labs are just so beneficial,” he said. “It’s information I can bring back here to our organization to share with our managers and then have them use it in their different groups or departments. The ACCA staff does a really nice job of putting together quality presenters to talk about things that are pertinent to what we’re doing. It’s a step above the other conferences that are out there just because of the quality and significance of the material they give. And the people who are presenting are ACCA members; they’re companies that are already succeeding at a high level. Hearing it from them, hearing what they’re doing, to learn from them and bring that back — it’s a good investment of three or four days.”

Rhett Proser, owner, Waccamaw Heating and Cooling LLC, Pawley’s Island, South Carolina, also finds value in the Learning Labs, specifically those targeting business management.

“I picked up something at the first conference I went to that would be hard to describe,” Proser said. “It was knowledge that I brought back and saw what it did for our company — maybe it was a better vision starting to form. It’s what drew me back to go and get some more.”

Proser said he can find the majority of technical training through local distributors and even online. He can also get marketing tips from the Internet. But it wasn’t until he started attending ACCA’s annual event and sat in on the business management forums that he started to see business bloom.

“For me, I was a great technician, but I found out I was a poor businessman,” he said. “ACCA has been the biggest source for providing the training and those relationships with those who have that knowledge to help me with the business side of it. I always meet people who have solutions. And, in most cases, others have shared the same problems and are more than happy to share the knowledge they’ve gained.”

Something New

ACCA will debut two new programs in Texas this year. ‘What’s Your Problem’ is a high-tech, interactive, fast-paced session that will give audience members a chance to ask a panel of top contractors for advice on their biggest business obstacles. Also new is the Industry Roundtable, which gives contractors a chance to get together with their peers for sector-specific networking. Attendees can choose which roundtable to attend. Each will feature a facilitator and the opportunity to find new solutions from similar business leaders from all over the country.

“It’s really a unique opportunity, and contractors can choose whichever roundtable they want to go to, or they can hop around them,” Stalknecht said. “It’s up to them, which is another thing that is so great about ACCA 2015, each attendee creates his or her own experience.”

Steve Saunders, CEO, Tempo Mechanical Services Inc., Irving, Texas, has been attending ACCA’s convention since 1998 and has been both an attendee, learning from the keynote speakers, and a presenter, sharing his experiences with peers.

“Knowledge is power and the ACCA Conference and its attendees are a fountain of knowledge,” Saunders said. “The world and business are constantly changing, and we must change with it. The ACCA Conference is often at the forefront of these changes. When we have everyone together is when we can make the best and fastest progress. Many decision makers attend the ACCA Conference. One of the reasons I go is to see them and to get industry issues discussed and resolved.

“This year, I think the industry is under as many threats as ever,” he continued. “Technology, smart houses, immigration, taxes, lack of labor, health care, efficiency [in general], regional efficiency standards, home performance, large company intrusion, regulation, environmental friendliness, competition, marketing, and serving clients are all factors we must consider. There are so many issues that today’s business leader has to address. I look forward to seeing what others are doing and finding new inspiration in their struggles and victories.”

IE3 Expo Returns

The IE3: Indoor Environment & Energy Expo will also take place during ACCA’s annual conference. This year, the expo will feature more than 200 manufacturers, suppliers, and industry partners gathering to make connections, strengthen relationships, share ideas, and help contractors build their businesses.

Emerson Climate Technologies Inc. has been active in ACCA’s annual conference and tradeshow for the past 15 years, said Karl Zellmer, vice president of sales, Emerson Climate Technologies. “It’s a great event to meet leading HVAC contractors in North America. It gives us an opportunity to interact with them and discuss new technologies, products, market trends, and find out from them what additional products, service, and support Emerson can provide to help them do their jobs.”

According to Rob Goodfellow, vice present of marketing, Dynamic Air Quality Solutions, attending the expo is a great opportunity to meet clients face-to-face.

“Like many ACCA and Indoor Air Quality Association (IAQA) members, we find the week is a good opportunity for us to see many of our clients and other friends in the industry,” Goodfellow explained. “Companies that participate in this event are companies that are serious about improving their businesses.”

Bill Alderson, corporate director of marketing, Rheem Mfg. Co., said the company continues to exhibit at the show because it places a high value on contractor education and supports ACCA’s mission to lead indoor environment and energy professionals to business success.

“The annual ACCA Conference & IE3 Expo is a great place for contractors to hear the latest industry trends and insights in educational sessions, and then see how manufacturers are responding to market demands through exciting new product offerings at the expo,” Alderson noted.

On Tuesday and Wednesday nights, The Victory Party and The Big Bang Chairman’s Banquet return to help contractors unwind and celebrate. The conference wraps up Thursday morning with an exclusive half-day seminar focused on service leadership.

Stalknecht said he is most looking forward to seeing the large number of contractors attending the event.

“ACCA 2015 is an educational event created by contractors for contractors,” he said. “I get excited to see so many contractors take 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 and to take their businesses to the next level of success. That shows true commitment to not only a better business, but to a stronger industry.”

Publication date: 3/9/2015

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