Conference veterans and newcomers alike are ready for the ACCA 2019 Conference and Expo in San Antonio, March 4-6. The events prepared for attendees range from guest speakers like Darren Woodson, former Dallas Cowboy and ESPN analyst, to breakout sessions that cover distributor relationships, marketing, payroll, opioids, and more. Held at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, the theme of this year’s conference is to “Optimize.” According to ACCA, the conference aims to help HVAC contractors optimize their business growth and success through HVAC training, product and service showcases, and networking.

Bill Vervaeke is the service manager for Walton Co. in York, Pennsylvania. He has attended the ACCA convention for the past 10 years and is looking forward to being a breakout session speaker on Wednesday. He, along with Tony Yanniello, director of operations at Del-Air Mechanical Contractors in Knoxville, Tennessee, will explain the ins and outs of commercial maintenance sales and estimating.

“Over the past 10 years, I have learned so much that has allowed me to be a better service manager and person,” said Vervaeke. “Speaking … is exciting to me. For years, I have attended, and now I want to be involved in more leadership as well as help others.”



Kicking off the MainStage on Monday is keynote speaker Seth Mattison. His “Go First Leadership” presentation takes a deep-dive look at the shifting definition of true leadership. Mattison is an author and futurist who explains that leadership is becoming less about title and time in an organization and more about influence. He has advised brands and organizations around the world on talent management and innovation, which he uses to provide his audiences with practical tools to use in their businesses.

Woodson takes the MainStage on Tuesday to address attendees about “Creating a Winning Culture.” Sports Illustrated deemed him “one of the hardest hitters in the NFL” on the football field, and he has translated that athleticism and aggressiveness to the leadership field. The three-time Super Bowl champion and Dallas Cowboys’ Ring of Honor member will instruct attendees on how to embrace change, competition, and confrontation with their organizations.



Registration, breakfast, and the keynote. That is the top of the order for Day One of the conference. Following these scheduled items, attendees will choose from multiple topics, broken into three sets of breakout sessions. Examples of these one-hour sessions include leads, the next generation, customer service training for technicians, home automation, company culture, increasing profits, financially accountable marketing, and more. During lunch, ACCA has set up a lunch and learn opportunity for contractors to discuss what keeps them up at night. There are three different sectors for this activity based on revenue — less than $3 million, between $3 million and $5 million, and more than $5 million.

That afternoon, there will be a special Distributor Leadership Forum. Attendees can hang out with Kyle Gargaro, editorial director of The NEWS, as he facilitates an open conversation with Monte Salsman, COO of Winsupply, about how contractors and distributors can better work together to improve the bottom line. In the evening, those interested in joining an ACCA Management Information Exchange (MIX®) Group can check out the MIXer.

“This will be only my second year attending the ACCA conference, but it is where I can make new industry friends and network with the movers and shakers in our profession,” said Doug Hunt, president and co-owner of Palmers Heating and Air Conditioning LLC, Thomasville, North Carolina. “You have to get behind an association that goes to bat for contractors on a daily basis. If you haven’t started attending and participating, you should.”

He said he is looking forward to the coming year as the industry and associations like ACCA address advancing pay and benefits, proactive recruitment that reflects diversity, and home performance and energy efficiency.

“HVAC is on the cusp of major change,” said Hunt. “Maybe we can make more local and regional affiliations with other trade organizations looking to do some of the same ground work that we are.”



Day Two divides and conquers as the ACCA Contractor University sessions follow two different tracks — business and technical. There are seven 20-minute business classes spread across four breakout sessions. Topics include tracking performance, recruiting, service management, marketing, the Fair Labor Standards Act, and social media.

There are four 20-minute technology sessions running at the same time as the business sessions. Attendees can choose from residential HVAC system design, zoning, load calculation, code review, and quality installations. Two 40-minute sessions covering low-load homes and diagnosing communication errors on mini splits are also available.

The conference expo also opens on Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The show floor features manufacturers, products, and service providers from across the nation. Attendees can network, find solutions to business and technical problems, and view live demos throughout the day. In the evening, Emerson will host contractors at its Mardi Gras at the Grotto hospitality event.



A one-hour breakfast and town hall meeting begins on Day Three. The “Contractors Only Forum” will cover legislative and regulatory issues with Martin Hoover, owner of Empire Heating and Air Conditioning Inc., Atlanta, and ACCA PAC and Advocacy committee chairman. Other ACCA staff will also cover issues such as climate change, energy efficiency, refrigerants, tax reform, health care, and more.

The town hall is followed by three breakout sessions, with a choice of 11 topics. Those who participated in ACCA’s financial and operations benchmark survey will be able to attend the closed results session from 8:45 to 9:45 a.m. The rest of the breakouts are one-hour platforms for industry experts and peers to share their knowledge and experience on sales, profits, employee retention, and more.

In the final hours of the conference, ACCA will provide lunch and make leadership announcements during a general session. The organization will share its plan for the year to come.

Publication date: 3/4/2019

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