NORCROSS, GA — American Contractors Exchange (ACE), an alliance of independent contractors that provides technical and business training live, over the Internet, held its second annual business meeting in Atlanta on Jan. 7-8.

Several guest speakers were brought in to present to the member contractors, who met to discuss and plan their financial agendas for the upcoming year and also to gather information on new hvac products and services.

Bud Mingledorff, president of Mingledorff’s Inc., gave a distributor’s perspective on dealing with the breakdown of the distributor-to-contractor partnership and exchange of business.

The contractors learned about fleet management tasks, commercial fleet vehicles, and different leasing options and benefits from Scott Carson, Fleet Services Division representative for Enterprise.

“We at Enterprise offer this fleet management program so that you, as business owners, can do what you do best — service and take care of your customers,” said Carson. “We handle every detail concerning your fleet and save you time while maximizing your fleet efficiency and saving you money.”

'Mind mapping'

Later, the contractors enjoyed an amusing, creative look at “mind mapping,” goal setting and planning, and organization by using creativity to enhance the analytical perspectives of management.

“When you use creative goal setting, you are allowing yourself to go beyond the parameters of ordinary ways of thinking and solving problems,” said Karla Brandau, public speaker and business management consultant.

She had the contractors engage in different activities that ranged from working with paperclips to constructing bugs and producing their own commercials.

“Creativity is about deviating from the norm so you can affect positive change, for the world is changing around you and cannot be controlled by you,” said Brandau. “Using this creativity is what will set you apart from others as change comes about.”

Attendees then learned about branding their companies and services from Darren Parsons, president of Ackray Communications, Inc., a firm providing marketing solutions and publications specifically for hvac and plumbing contractors.

“Establishing and maintaining a branding image for your company is one of the most important business decisions that you will ever make because it will always precede and proceed your company. Make sure you choose and implement yours carefully and wisely,” said Parsons.

He spoke specifically about the entity of branding as opposed to advertising and marketing, explaining the idea of branding as being the entire image that a product or service portrays and how consumers identify a company with it.

Building and maintaining your company’s brand image, said Parsons, involves every person in your company and takes consistency and persistence.

At the end of the meeting, all of the members gathered into their networking groups and brainstormed their existing goals and objectives for the year 2000.

Various issues — ranging from pricing strategies to employment relations — were discussed in detail and the contractors pulled together, giving input and suggestions to help one another reach their goals.

For more information, please call Santrice Coleman or Ruth King at 800-511-8644.