BROADVIEW, Ill. — Members of The Unified Group, an association of HVAC commercial contractors, recently gathered for the organization’s Annual Meeting and Owners’ Forum and to celebrate The Unified Group’s 20th anniversary. The event, which took place in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, from Nov. 7-11, was a valuable time for members to work on their businesses instead of in them.

“Learning from our diverse group of members and being able to get a different perspective and ideas on how to better operate our companies and grow our leadership skills was the best part of the meeting,” said Fred Roser, senior consultant, Lexington Mechanical Services, Lexington, Kentucky.

Guest speaker Bruce Boguski kicked off the first day of the meeting. A nationally known presenter on motivational tactics and mental toughness training, Boguski taught members affirmation training, how to switch between the right and left sides of the brain, how to develop unshakable beliefs, how to stop automatic negative programing, and the ability to regroup.

The next few days focused on group sessions centered around the topics of people, processes, and planning. During the session on people, the group explored the nationwide shortage of skilled workers, coupled with the rising costs of a college education, and discussed ways to find, hire, and retain workers in the skilled trades.

One member — Glassman Corp. in Hays, Kansas — has hosted an annual Skilled Trades Technology Day for the past three years. The event is geared toward local students and highlights the many benefits of a career in the trades as an alternative to a traditional four-year degree. This year, 42 schools were invited to attend, compared to 20 the year before, and more than 100 high school students attended.

Burlington, Vermont, member VHV Co. has also begun to encourage high school students to learn about the trades. With its new series of open houses, VHV Co. hopes to bridge the gap in accessibility of the future workforce by serving as an educational opportunity for local students to receive hands-on knowledge about a rewarding career in the trades, past what can be taught in the classroom.

Large group sessions were followed by “lightning round” breakouts for small groups to discuss strategic issues important to their businesses.

“The meeting was well-planned and thoughtful,” said Joe Glassman, president and CEO, Glassman Corp. “The lightning rounds challenged individual executives to learn new concepts and perspectives of others. I liked this portion the most.”

In addition to sharing challenges and working on business solutions together, members were able to enjoy the beauty of Mexico on a group catamaran excursion, dinner in town, and a closing dinner on the beach with a bonfire.

“The opportunity provided by this group to work on your business in a room full of incredible people is really something special,” said Derren Saucier of Temperature Inc., Memphis, Tennessee.

Publication date: 12/5/2018

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