Learning Labs a Highlight of ACCA 2016 Convention
HVAC contractors large and small will gather March 10-13 in Charlotte, North Carolina, for ACCA’s 2016 conference and IE3 Expo. The annual event will feature Learning Labs, MainStage sessions with panel discussions and keynote speakers, the IE3: Indoor Environment & Energy Expo, and more.
“This event will offer information that will help contractors improve their operations and bottom lines,” said Paul Stalknecht, president and CEO of ACCA. “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 strong industry overall.”
LEARNING LABS PROMOTE SUCCESS
“We have, once again, built a diverse Learning Lab program that covers almost every area of a contracting business,” said Stalknecht.
ACCA has arranged for some of the best contractors in the country to share their top-secret techniques for business success at ACCA 2016. This year’s program features 35 classes in seven different tracks, including building performance, business operations, commercial contracting, innovation and leadership, radiant and hydronics, residential contracting, and quality assurance.
Jolene Methvin, customer service supervisor at Bay Area Heating & Air Conditioning Inc. in Crystal River, Florida, will present “Tight Homes & IAQ – How They Work Together” in the building performance track. Methvin will discuss the impact tightening a home can have on IAQ.
“I actually chose the topic because it’s something that often gets overlooked a bit, including by myself,” Methvin said. “It’s something I really needed to research anyways for what we do here [at Bay Area Heating & Air Conditioning]. It’s been a challenge for me, and it was something I wanted to tackle. Times are changing, and we really need to start paying closer attention to fresh-air makeup. I’m really looking forward to attending and getting some interaction from the other people who are presenting, too. It’s not uncommon for them to teach me things, as well.”
Matt Marsiglio, operations manager for Flame Heating, Cooling, Plumbing, and Electrical in Warren, Michigan, has presented on behalf of ACCA several times. This year, he will discuss promoting employees from within the company and what contractors can do to help them make successful transitions from the field to management positions.
“In our structure, we’ve hired from the outside and often watched those employees fail,” Marsiglio said. “I was a field guy for more than 10 years before I was promoted, and we just promoted a field guy into an installation coordinator position. These guys don’t have to learn the systems and processes because they already know all of that.”
Additionally, promoting from within is good for employee satisfaction and company morale, Marsiglio noted.
“Internal promotions are good for not only the person being promoted, but also for the rest of the team, because it gives everyone a sense of security and confirms there’s an avenue to grow. We’re in a physically demanding business, and, as the body breaks down, guys start to wonder what will happen to them. Knowing there’s an area for personal growth within the company helps build a stronger team.”
Marsiglio said the ACCA conference is a great place to learn.
“Sometimes, it’s about getting outside of our four walls and seeing how those who are more successful than we are do it, regardless of their size or revenue. The neat thing about it is everybody is willing to share, and the information that is exchanged is great.
“This is one of the most important events in the industry,” he continued. “It’s important to get to this one. There are always going to be guys who are smaller than you, guys who are bigger than you, and the questions are always going to be the same — no matter where the company is in terms of growth. So you can get the answers you need without having to reinvent the wheel.”
Sam DeAngelis, CEO of Colorado Climate Maintenance Inc. in Englewood, Colorado, has attended the last nine ACCA conferences, but will present for the first time this year, offering up a course on “Leverage Mobile Technology in Commercial Contracting.”
“We’ve really focused on change and development over the past five years, and the benefits we’ve seen have been pretty dramatic,” DeAngelis said. “I know a lot of smaller contractors don’t have the resources internally to figure out their options, and they aren’t necessarily sharing with other companies. So, I’m looking to bridge that gap between people doing things ‘old school,’ with the old paper method to what potentially is out there. I’m interested in showing how easy it is to achieve some of these advantages with mobile technologies.
“We’ve been doing mobile dispatching for about nine years now, which is a long time when it comes to mobile technology,” he continued. “We’ve taken advantage of new mobile devices and applications, which has allowed us to give our field techs a lot more information on the job site with very little effort and memorization. We use a number of different apps to create inspection forms and information sheets for our customers. Technicians can complete those forms in the field quicker and more accurately and present them to customers in a much more professional manner than we ever did before.”
DeAngelis said there are numerous benefits available to contractors who attend the ACCA conference. “There are always technical or administrative learning sessions that I certainly get value out of. I’m always bringing something back and applying it to our company, which makes us better and more efficient. I’m also able to make connections with other contractors and people in the industry and share information and best practices. I’ve built many relationships with people from across the country who I never would have had the opportunity to meet.
“The other part is looking at what the trends are and what’s new in the industry from the aspect of tools and how people are approaching certain aspects of business to what equipment manufacturers are coming out with,” he continued. “It gives us a little glimpse of what may be coming in the future, so that when it comes, we’re not completely blindsided.”
IE3 EXPO AND MORE
In addition to Learning Lab sessions, attendees will also have the opportunity to interact with manufacturers and suppliers at the IE3: Indoor Environment & Energy Expo. This year, IE3 will feature more than 200 exhibitors. Attendees will get hands-on experience with the latest and greatest products in the HVACR industry, granting them an edge over their competition.
Additionally, the conference will feature ACCA’s widely anticipated MainStage sessions.
“Our MainStages will blow away anyone attending ACCA 2016,” Stalknecht said. “Our opening session will feature Carey Lohrenz, who was the first female F-14 Tomcat pilot. She’s going to share her story and how critical it is to stay cool under pressure. And, closing things out will be Tim Kight talking about the R Factor. These MainStage sessions are really going to push attendees to think about how they respond to the good and bad things that happen in the daily course of doing business.”
Methvin said her favorite thing about the conference is the opening session. “They always have a great speaker, and the message is usually pretty inspirational.”
Other MainStage sessions will include the annual CEO/Contractor Forum, Big Bang Banquet, and, back for a second year, the “What’s Your Problem?” contractor panel, which will feature a live question-and-answer session.
Additionally, the conference will also feature a Legislative & Policy Forum and live Legal Toolbox with Brooke Duncan of Adams and Reese LLP to discuss the many laws contractors must follow. Industry Roundtables will also make a reappearance.
“Industry Roundtables will give contractors a chance to get together with contractors who operate businesses that are very similar to their own for some sector-specific networking,” Stalknecht said. “It’s really a unique opportunity, and contractors can choose whichever roundtable they want to go to, or they can hop around them — it’s up to them, which is yet another thing that makes ACCA 2016 so great. Each attendee can create his or her own experience.”
“I think a lot of people look at the expense of attending conferences and the time away from the office as a deterrent from being able to attend these conferences,” DeAngelis said. “Until they attend one and see what they can take away from it, they can’t really assess the value of the time and money spent. It’s really well worth it. I would encourage contractors to attend and that there is certainly a ROI [return on investment]. That’s why I continue to attend. It’s not the same thing every year — it’s something new and different, and you take away something different every time. I couldn’t get that any other way.”
Publication date: 3/7/2016