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In March 2020, members of the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) were set to meet in St. Louis for their annual conference. The city cancelled the event just days before it was scheduled to open. With the pandemic finally waning, ACCA members gathered in the city known as the Gateway to the West for four days of education, networking, and celebration of the industry.

“After nearly three years, it was great to see so many members of the ACCA family gathering together again at ACCA 2022 to discuss the challenges and opportunities affecting America’s leading HVACR contractors,” said Barton James, ACCA president and CEO. “We are especially grateful for the leadership of ACCA’s Board of Directors, who have been led by Brain Stack, president of Stack Heating, Cooling, and Electric, whose dedication to our organization and the industry helped ensure this even was a success.”

Stack and 2020-21 chairman Lanny Huffman never had the opportunity to take the reins in front of their peers. Huffman did have a moment on stage this year when he accepted the 2022 Community Leadership Award. This award recognizes an ACCA member’s efforts to improve the local community and the image of the HVAC industry.

“It is a tremendous honor to be recognized by ACCA for what we’ve accomplished so far.”
Rich Krider
President, Howell’s Heating & Air

HVAC Contractors of the Year

Several other awards were handed out during the event. Two of the biggest awards handed out at the conference were the contractor of the year. Doctor Cool & Professor Heat of League City, Texas, took home the residential honors, while Howell’s Heating &Air of Ashland, Virginia, was the commercial winner.

Finalists are judged on a range of qualities including community involvement, industry involvement, and a commitment to training and certifications. A panel of ACCA past chairmen judge the finalists and select the winner. 

“In 1979, Doctor Cool & Professor Heat was started on the foundation that ‘there is no right way to do the wrong thing,’” said James Barry, Doctor Cool & Professor Heat owner. “We are honored to be chosen as ACCA’s 2022 Residential Contractor of the Year.”

Howell’s Heating & Air has been designing, installing, and servicing commercial HVAC systems since 1969. Rich Krider, Howell’s Heating & Air president, said the award is a celebration of the firm’s journey to this point and will act as a benchmark for Howell’s leaders. Krider said the employees are Howell’s No. 1 asset, and he called the firm’s success the product of combined achievements.

“It is a tremendous honor to be recognized by ACCA for what we’ve accomplished so far,” Krider said. “Winning the 2022 Commercial Contractor of the Year Award is a fitting tribute to our founders and the legacy they established and that we continue to cultivate. We strive to honor their core foundation of continuing education and personal evolution.”


Awards for Education, Safety

The late Jack Rise won one of ACCA’s most prestigious honors, the Spirit of Independence Award. The award is presented to an individual who makes significant and lasting contributions to the strength, success, and independence of HVACR contractors. The award recognizes an individual who goes above and beyond the call of duty, displaying creativity, ingenuity, and perseverance in their pursuit of a better industry.

Rise died in December 2021. He was a certified member of the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society and had 36 years of industry experience. As an ACCA Educational Program Instructor Certification (EPIC) certified instructor, Rise shared his vast industry knowledge through ACCA’s residential and commercial design classes, on-demand and live virtual courses, as well as in articles in the association’s magazine. Rise’s widow, Bobbi Kaufmann-Rise, accepted the award for him.

“I am so proud and honored that Jack is receiving this award,” Kaufmann-Rise said. “It’s just the best that he is at the top of his industry after spending his whole life working and putting his all into it. I wish he was here with us to celebrate it with us.”

Hartley’s Climate Control in Rolla, Missouri, was named the 2022 Federated Insurance ACCA Super S.T.A.R. Award.Federated Insurance, one of the association’s corporate partners, presents the ACCA Super S.T.A.R. Award annually to an ACCA member that prioritizes four important components: safety, teamwork, accountability, and responsibility (S.T.A.R.). In order to be eligible, the contracting firm must be an ACCA member and a Federated Insurance client.

“Hartley’s Climate Control LLC understands that employee safety is of the utmost importance. From the most senior employee to the newest hire, they strive to continue creating a work environment that values safety, training, and mitigating risks before they occur,” said Nate Oland, Federated Insurance senior national account executive. “They set an excellent example for other businesses to see that prioritizing safety can help lead to a healthier, more productive work culture.”


New Awards Honor Efforts

Rosenberg Indoor Comfort was named the inaugural Elite Marketing Master. The Marketing Masters Awards program, which is split into five categories, honors and recognizes the best marketing programs developed and implemented by ACCA contractor members. From these winners, ACCA members voted to choose the Elite Marketing Master recipient.

ACCA also awarded Congressmen Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma and Roger Williams of Texas as the inaugural recipients of the ACCA Coolest in Congress Award. The award is granted to members of Congress who have made significant legislative contributions to the HVACR contracting industry.

“We are very pleased to be able to present this award to two Members of Congress who are true champions of the industry,” said Chris Czarnecki, ACCA government relations manager.

Both Congressmen are Republicans and both are successful small business owners. Before he ran for Congress, Mullin ran Mullin Plumbing, whose services also include HVAC contracting. Williams is the owner of Roger Williams Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Weathford, Texas.

Ryan Kletz.

AMONG THE AWARD WINNERS: Ryan Kletz of Classic Air’s One Hour Heating and Cooling in Virginia Beach, Virgnia, was awarded the ACCA Distinguished Service Award. (Courtesy of ACCA)

Ryan Kletz of Classic Air’s One Hour Heating and Cooling in Virginia Beach, Virginia, was awarded the ACCA Distinguished Service Award. Each year, ACCA recognizes one volunteer who has demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to ACCA and the contracting industry. Kletz has served on ACCA’s events committee for four years, and as co-chair for the past two years. Kletz will join ACCA’s Board of Directors in 2022.

“Ryan’s commitment to serving on the events committee makes him the clear choice for this honor,” James said.