ACCA announced that after 17 years with the association, Paul Stalknecht, president and CEO, is leaving the organization. To fill his position, the board of directors named Barton James interim president and CEO. James was previously the senior vice president of government affairs.

“We are hoping this will be just the change the association needs to make us the premier contractor association in our industry,” said Steve Schmidt, ACCA board of directors’ chairman. “We believe James has the skills to make us the new ACCA. We have full confidence in him.”

James has been put in charge of the transition plan, and it would not be a surprise if the interim tag is eventually dropped from his title. One of the first items James will need to figure out is the declining membership and corresponding revenue that has affected ACCA recently.

“Association membership across the country has been flat or declining in just about every trade, profession, organization,” said Todd Washam, ACCA director of industry and external relations. “This is certainly not unique to ACCA. What is unique to ACCA is that we are one of the first organizations to take the steps to address this. ACCA’s board of directors recognizes that younger generations are slow to join trade associations, and ACCA’s volunteer leadership has taken the critical steps to put ACCA on a path toward growth, stronger partnerships, more community impact, and robust member engagement — which is what younger contractors are looking for.”

The decision for the change was made by the board of directors’ executive committee.

“We thank Paul for his many years of service to ACCA members and the HVACR industry,” Schmidt said. “We wish him well in his new endeavors.”

Stalknecht began his ACCA career in 2001. As president and chief executive officer, he has led the 50-year-old association through a series of unprecedented changes since assuming its top executive role.

Prior to joining ACCA, James spent 13 years as the executive director of the National Mitigation Banking Association, director of advocacy for the Land Trust Alliance, and director of public policy for Ducks Unlimited. During this time, he designed and implemented strategic plans; built political advocacy campaigns; and directed lobbying activities to establish, maintain, and improve relationships with key policymakers.

James has also worked as a staffer with former Congressman Jay Dickey, R-Ark.; a political operative; and he served as a political appointee in the Bush administration at the U.S. Small Business Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“I am lucky to have a great team,” James said. “We want to make sure we roll our sleeves up and work close with the board and the members to provide greater services to them to meet their needs. We want to help the future generation of contractors have the tools they need and make sure they know they have an association supporting them as they grow their businesses.”

Another priority for James is to continue to build a good relationship with Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) and Heating, Air-conditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI) to help the three associations accomplish shared goals.

“You will see our value proposition very quickly changing and serving members like never before,” Schmidt said. “When I took the chairmanship in February, I knew there were changes that needed to be made. I had to do research and delve into what was going on. But here we are, eight months later, and we know what we have to do, and we are doing it.”

Publication date: 9/24/2018

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