NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The 2017 IE3 Show, held March 20-22 in Nashville, Tennessee, welcomed a record-breaking number of attendees this year, drawing in people from all throughout the country. Featuring 26 workshop sessions that included both roundtable discussions with industry veterans and ask the expert sessions where contractors could ask professionals questions on varying issues, the show was quite an informative success.

“This is my first time attending an ACCA conference, and it’s wonderful,” said Marion Wood, president and owner, Dan Wood Co., Portage, Michigan. “I really enjoyed the keynote speaker. He was very inspiring, and the roundtables were very good. A lot of people were sharing great ideas with each other.”

The conference also drew in a lot of people newer to the industry looking for answers in order to have a successful business. Steve Huber, project manager, Total Mechanical Solutions, Pleasant View, Tennessee, was attracted to the show because of its many sessions led by industry veterans.

“I came because I hoped to gain some knowledge from the varying seminars, and with that information, I hope to further our business,” said Huber.


The kickoff MainStage keynote session was led by Jon Taffer, the boisterous, outspoken host of Spike TV’s “Bar Rescue.” Taffer also is the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of “Raise the Bar” and will soon host a new Spike TV show called “Hungry Investors.”

Taffer opted to jump off the stage, stating he wanted to be on the same level as the audience. During his speech, Taffer stressed the importance of being aggressive, seizing the moment, standing out with branding and marketing, and having what he calls the “R-factor,” or the reaction factor.

“Everything we do is a process, never the result,” he said. “That process must establish a positive and emotional reaction: our product. It isn’t about the equipment you install; it’s the reaction they have when you leave.

“How do we look a certain way to brand ourselves?” continued Taffer. “Is everything hot pink? Do we have a color? Do we have a look? How do I get myself known? How many people here know how many incoming leads they had this month? About 10 percent of the room. How many of you know how many denials you received last month? Interesting, more of you know how many jobs you didn’t get versus how many leads you got.

“To me, our business is three things: Incoming traffic that comes out in branding and getting the phone to ring; making contact with the customer and turning that call into a lead; and having goals within your marketing, ads, website, trade show events, and so on.”

The speech triggered a standing ovation and conversation throughout the remainder of the conference.


Industry Roundtable lunches followed the keynote and kicked off with contractors scrambling to the four different sessions. The sessions included “Residential Contracting Excellence Lunch,” led by Eric Knaak, Isaac Heating and Air Conditioning Inc., Rochester, New York; “Building Performance Forum Lunch,” led by Jeremy Begley, HVAC 2 Home Performance, Cincinnati; “Plumbing & Hydronics Roundtable Lunch,” led by Brian Stack, Stack Heating & Cooling, Avon, Ohio; and “Commercial Contracting Roundtable Lunch: Attracting, Retaining, and Marketing to Millennials,” led by Gabrielle Bosch, CEO of The Millennial Solution.

During the “Residential Contracting Excellence Lunch,” Knaak asked what topics attendees would like covered. Some key points addressed were recruiting, retaining quality employees, performance pay, and service agreements. Each table brainstormed ideas and questions and then presented their findings to the rest of the room.

Paul Schwerling, owner, Sears Heating and Cooling, Columbus Ohio, swears by performance pay and has been doing so for quite some time. He did his best to encourage the contractors at his table to give it a try.

“Every one of our techs has an hourly position, but they get 10 percent of each service job,” Schwerling said.

In order to retain quality employees, Wood elected to start utilizing an incentive.

“We started offering $500 if technicians stay for half a year,” she said. “So far, it’s worked.”

Following lunch, contractors were invited to educational Learning Lab sessions, titled: Residential Contracting Excellence, Commercial Contracting Roundtable, Building Performance Forum, and Plumbing and Hydronics Roundtable.

During the Plumbing and Hydronics Roundtable, Being No. 1 in the No. 2 Business, Ed Cerier, marketing manager, Nexstar Network; and Brad Krause, president and owner, Service Professor, Grand Rapids, Michigan, and senior trainer at Nexstar Network, provided contractors with ways to market their businesses successfully when adding plumbing into their HVAC businesses.

“In order to market your newly added plumbing business while maintaining your HVAC brand cohesively, you must market digitally, which is something people need to know right now,” Cerier said. “Then, you need to encourage a direct response from customers using your marketing. Get out into the community and show, rather than tell, who you are and what your brand is.”

After a busy day of informative sessions, contractors were amped up and motivated to see the many new products manufacturers brought to the Main Street Music Festival show floor. The doors opened, and people flooded the beautiful Gaylord Opryland convention center.

During the event, Emerson and Goodman made an announcement that Emerson’s Copeland Scroll two-stage compressor will be offered in Goodman Mfg. Co.’s new 16-18 SEER systems.

According to the company, the new Goodman 16-18 SEER systems, featuring the two-stage compressor, will allow homeowners to obtain comfort and efficiency at an accessible price. Two-stage systems run at full capacity or 65 percent and modulate mechanically by bypassing a portion of the gas in the scroll back to suction.

At the end of the evening on Tuesday, the Ask the Experts: Commercial session gave contractors the ability to speak to a panel of major executives of HVAC companies, which included: Mike Branson, executive vice president and general manager, ACD operations, Rheem Mfg. Co.; Elliot Zimmer, vice president and general manager, Lennox Intl. Inc.; Steve Maddox, vice president and general manager of engineering, unitary products, Johnson Controls Inc.; Thurman Melson, vice president and general manager, energy and environmental solutions, Honeywell Intl. Inc.; Matt Peterson, president and CEO, Fujitsu General America Inc.; Kirk Thorne, sales, marketing, and aftermarket, Daikin Applied Americas; and Greg Alcorn, vice president and general manager, commercial systems, Carrier Corp.

Hosted by ACCA’s new chairman, Don Langston, CEO and president, Aire Rite Air Conditioning in Huntington Beach, California, the event led to an assortment of questions, most of which led back to complying to energy standards and improving products to ease installation and repairs. Onward diagnostics was the first topic that was discussed and where each company was development-wise in order to better help contractors, technicians, and end users understand how to make a rooftop inspection easier for all involved.

Maddox started out the discussion, answering, “The displays on our products clearly display the diagnostic codes, so you don’t have to look at a chart or try to decipher leaks or something of that nature. It also simplifies the troubleshooting, as you have access to online training. Additionally, we offer support for technicians there, too. We want to utilize controls to help out contractors.” 


The fun continued on day two and three with more industry sessions, such as the Ask the Experts Industry Roundtables forums.

ACCA honored several contractors during its Industry Champions Award ceremony.

The 2017 Residential Contractor of the Year honor was given to Lee Company, Franklin, Tennessee; 2017 Commercial Contractor of the Year, James River Air Conditioning, Richmond, Virginia; 2017 ACCA/Federated SUPER S.T.A.R. Award, Bruce Beckwith, Beckwith Heating & Cooling, Akron, Ohio; and the 2017 Skip Snyder Humanitarian Award, Richard Dykstra Sr., Dykstra Home Services, Chicago.

On the event’s final day, ACCA’s 2017-2018 board of directors and officers were announced. Last year’s chairman, Steve Lauten, owner of Total Air & Heat Co. in Plano, Texas, handed his role over to incoming chairman, Langston. Serving alongside Langston on the executive committee are directors and officers: Steve Schmidt, president, Frederick Air Inc., Frederick, Maryland, senior vice chairman; Eric Knaak, vice president and general manager, Isaac Heating and Air Conditioning, Rochester, New York, secretary/treasurer; Lanny Huffman, vice president, Hickory Sheet Metal Co. Inc., Hickory, North Carolina, vice chairman; Wade Mayfield, president, Thermal Services Inc., Omaha, Nebraska, vice chairman; Dan Weis, vice president, Weis Comfort Systems Inc., Fenton, Missouri, vice chairman; and Lauten will serve this year as immediate past chairman.

Directors on the board, not serving on the executive committee are: Dave Boelcke, owner, Boelcke Heating and Air Conditioning, Stevensville, Michigan; Linda Couch, COO, Parrish Services Inc., Manassas, Virginia; Dan Foley, president and owner, Foley Mechanical Inc. Lorton, Virginia; Louis Fuentes, CEO, Becerril Air Conditioning Guys Inc., Imperial, California; Ken Goodrich, president and CEO, Goettl Air Conditioning, Tempe, Arizona;  Lanny Huffman, president, Hickory Sheet Metal Co. Inc., Hickory, North Carolina; Wade Mayfield, president, Thermal Services Inc., Omaha, Nebraska; Rob Minnick,  CEO and president, Minnick’s Inc., Laurel, Maryland; Steve Pape, president, Pape Service Co., Desoto, Texas; Keith Paton, vice president of service, Ivey Mechanical LLC, Kosciusko, Mississippi; Rhett Prosser, owner, Waccamaw Heating & Cooling Inc., Pawleys Island, South Carolina; and Brian Stack, president, Stack Heating & Cooling, Avon, Ohio.

ACCA’s 2018 IE3 Show is scheduled for Feb. 12-14 at the Gaylord National in Washington, District of Columbia. For more information, visit  


At the Ask the Experts Residential Roundtable session, Erik Knaack, vice president and general manager of Isaac Heating & Air Conditioning, Rochester, New York, had a simple question for the manufacturers on the panel: “What should contractors be thinking about and focusing on to up their games?”

Here were some of the answers:

• Lawrence Blackburn, executive vice president and president, Goodman Business Unit: “In today’s environment, recruiting and training are critical. I know that having the resources to address the service and installation of this equipment is a big challenge for all of us. We try hard to attract new talent to this industry. As contractors, you have to make it attractive to these people to join your business and provide this service. All of us up here support experienced, technical, competent technicians doing installations. We struggle as an industry to maintain that.”

• Mike Branson, vice president and general manager, air conditioning division, Rheem Mfg. Co.: “I think it is two things from our perspective. Number one is quality installations, but the second one is being a marketing and selling machine. That is something that ACCA helps you do. At the end of the day, we make products that cool and heat. That is what we do. We need the channel to do that. We need distributors and contractors to do that. You are the face of everything we do. Continue what you are doing here.

• Gary Bedard, vice president and general manager, Lennox Residential at Lennox Intl. Inc.: I think it is all things digital. I think if there is one thing that you should lose sleep over, it is the digital world. It starts with your website. The cool thing about a website is you can pick the very best contractor who is doing it the best — not even in your area — go on their website and see how they do it. Millennials will tell you, if it doesn’t fit on my phone, you don’t exist. You have to have a plan, and I think every one of us needs to think of how we spend our money attracting and keeping business in the digital world.

• Matthew Pine, vice president of marketing, Carrier Corp.: If you look at the Wi-Fi thermostat market, there were about 4 million units sold, and our channel sold about 25 percent of that. We can’t be afraid to get involved in technology like this. We need to embrace it. I called it a system of a system. There are a lot of homes embracing Apple Home Kit, Alexa, and Google Home. Our system is going to have to sit in their ecosystem. We need to understand that. There is a lot going on in that space, and we all need to be cognizant of it and embrace it.

Publication date: 4/27/2017

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