This article was contributed to by representatives of this industry’s standards-making and contractor-based associations. It offers a remarkable look inside their perceptions of their own past, present, and future, and the future of the hvacr industry.

We thank these associations for their cooperation.

Standards-Creating Associations

AMCA (Air Movement and Control Association International, Inc.) BARBARA MORRISON, PH.D., CAE, CHIEF EXECUTIVE

What does your association have to offer now that you may not have had to offer just 5 years ago?

AMCA International continues to expand one of its core purposes, the Certified Ratings Programs. The program currently publishes eight test standards and twelve certified rating seals for air movement and control products with more ratings programs under development. This assures the buyers, specifiers and users of air movement and control equipment that the published ratings are reliable and accurate.

At the same time, the program assures manufacturers that competitive ratings are based on standard test methods and procedures, and are subject to review by AMCA International as an impartial authority.

AMCA International also now provides an on-line Directory of Licensed Products. This directory lists the company contact information and the products bearing the AMCA Certified Ratings seal. Products bearing the AMCA International Certified Ratings Seal for performance assures that the products have been tested using the appropriate test standard. Each licensed product is subject to continuing check tests.

Do you think the Internet will play a larger role in association life, perhaps even replacing meetings? If so, does your association have plans for virtual meetings?

The Internet will definitely play a more important role in AMCA International, however, it is unlikely that it will ever completely replace face-to-face meetings. The important interactions that take place in face-to-face encounters cannot be achieved on-line.

On-line activities that may increase are document/publication development and revisions. Rather than meeting several times in person, the document can move forward by on-line processes. Utilizing technology will speed up the process of document development and revision by enabling the participants to work on the material in their own available time and without trying to align everyone’s schedule to meet in person. There will still be critical times when face-to-face meetings may be needed as a document/publication reaches various stages of completion.

Looking ahead over the next 5 years, what is your association’s game plan?

AMCA International will be developing and implementing a new Strategic Plan in July of 2002. Obviously the outcomes from the July meeting will be the focus of the next 5 years. Serving member needs globally will be a topic of discussion in this strategic planning process. AMCA will identify ways to serve all AMCA members and add value to their membership within the organization.

What do you see as the standards that will need to be addressed and finalized over the next few years?

Standards that need to be addressed will, in all probability, be those that deal with energy efficiencies. As more and more focus is centered on product energy efficiency, standards must address this topic.

Do you see a better, faster way of creating standards?

I wish I could offer a solution to better and faster creation of standards, but can only state that having organizations and individuals focusing on the importance of meeting deadlines and follow-through will be the driving force to move the standards creation process forward.

ARI (Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute)


What does your association have to offer now that it may not have had five years ago?

The electronic transformation of ARI is a major productivity enhancement for our members and the customers that purchase their products. For example, all ARI standards and guidelines are online for free download from anywhere in the world. Performance rating directories for equipment like central air conditioners and heat pumps are no longer printed — they are available 24/7 at and are updated literally on a daily basis.

The ARI Communications Committee constructed a Management Information System plan that during the past five years has shifted ARI from paper to electrons for meeting agendas, minutes, newsletter delivery, consumer brochures and information, statistics, e-mail, and many additional services.

During that time we added five certification programs and integrated the Commercial Refrigerator Manufacturers Association into ARI. In addition, we have greatly expanded our international efforts due to the globalizations of markets and the increasing importance of international protocols, potential barriers to trade, and international standards.

Do you think the Internet will play a larger role in association life, perhaps even replacing meetings? If so, does your association have plans for virtual meetings?

ARI began conducting virtual meetings about a year ago because they make economic sense for our members. Using the Internet, these meetings can be conducted between people in various countries as well as locations within North America.

(However), virtual meetings … cannot always replace face-to-face get-togethers. Our recent Spring Product Section meetings are a good example.

As for the future role of the Internet, if the advances at ARI’s CoolNet website ( during the past five years are prologue, the next five years will be even more amazing. The confluence of computers and full motion video via broadband will enhance websites now maintained by ARI. ARI Product Sections increasingly will have their own websites.

What is your association’s game plan for the next five years?

ARI believes in the vision of the hvacr industry, which is to provide customers globally with highly efficient, environmentally responsible, easily maintained equipment at reasonable cost, to satisfy comfort, health, and productivity needs of people everywhere.

ARI’s new membership brochure outlines the range of services we will provide to maintain our role as an “Institute of Excellence.” From harmonized standards in a globalized world to winning support from policymakers for fair and economically justified laws and protocols, ARI will continue to be dedicated to the concepts of self-regulation espoused by its founders.

We will be celebrating 50 years of service to America in 2003, and I am certain the handful of folks who conceived of ARI back in the Cold War days of 1953 would be astounded by the ARI of today and the next five years.

Which standards will need to be addressed and finalized over the next few years?

It is ARI policy to review all of its current 67 standards and 15 guidelines every five years. New standards expected as early as this year will include Standard 1200, “Performance of Commercial Refrigeration Display Cases,” and Guideline V, “Application of Energy Recovery Devices.”

Do you see a better, faster way of creating standards?

We are already seeing productivity gains for our members through the use of Internet-delivered virtual meetings. Draft standards are now exchanged electronically and votes are conducted via e-mail. Many members already have videoconferencing capability, and this may grow in use. The trend is certainly toward a faster standards-development process.

ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc.)


What does your association have to offer now that you may not have had to offer just 5 years ago?

  • Significantly expanded educational materials and programs.

  • Research and knowledge leading to improved indoor air quality design.

  • Use of the continuous maintenance procedure, which allows the Society to expedite incorporating current technical information into its standards, particularly in the areas of ventilation (Standard 62) and energy conservation (90.1), on a timely basis.

  • Expanded international participation in the Society through Region XIII and region at large. We recently created a region-at-large, designed to give every member a voice in the ASHRAE decision-making and policy-making processes.

    Do you think the Internet will play a larger role in association life, perhaps even replacing meetings? If so, does your association have plans for virtual meetings?

    The Internet will play a much greater role. The ASHRAE home page,, is being revised to better serve the industry. This is perhaps ASHRAE’s greatest tool for serving the industry and members, particularly those who live outside the United States. With a click of a mouse, you can find almost any information you want to know about ASHRAE without leaving your home or office.

    While the Internet will enhance communications, such as looking at collaborative authoring tools and online programs for authors to submit papers, it will not replace meetings. Meetings, with members in the same room, are necessary for dialogue.

    Looking ahead over the next 5 years, what is your association’s game plan?

    We have extensive plans for this period, most of which have been put in motion:

  • A comprehensive rewrite of the complete Handbook series, which will make the contents more directly relevant and include extensive recent technological advances. The rewrite also will be arranged for ready adaptability to electronic format.

  • Expansion of educational programs and materials directed primarily toward system operation and maintenance.

  • An expanded series of indoor air quality standards.

  • An enhanced membership base to include managers and operators of building facilities and refrigeration plants.

  • More concentrated efforts in activities involving sustainability in all aspects of system and equipment design and operation.

  • An expanding technology base made more directly relevant for our international membership.

    What do you see as the standards that will need to be addressed and finalized over the next few years?

  • Standard 62, Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality

  • Standard 90.1, Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings

  • Standard 135®, BACnet, a Data Communication Protocol for Building Automation and Control Networks

  • Standard 15, Safety Standard for Refrigerating Systems

  • Standard 34, Designation and Safety Classification of Refrigerants

  • Standard 161, Air Quality Within Commercial Aircraft

    These standards address basic necessities of human life — indoor air quality, energy and refrigeration. And the BACnet standard makes it easier to provide these necessities in today’s electronic age by allowing building equipment and systems manufactured by different companies to work together. Finding economic and environmentally safe ways to provide these necessities becomes even more important when you realize that the greatest challenge to the human race in the 21st century is to maintain and advance our quality of life as we face a dwindling reserve of energy resources.

    Do you see a better, faster way of creating standards?

    We are discussing programs and methods for simplifying our standards and making them more user-friendly. This program is conceived to enable us to author the standards and achieve consensus in much less calendar time.

    RSES (Refrigeration Service Engineers Society)


    What does your association have to offer now that you may not have had to offer just 5 years ago?

    RSES has grown tremendously in the past five years. First and foremost, we can offer any product to anybody, regardless of membership status. Individual members and active local chapters continue to receive preferred pricing, but we now all our training, education, and certification programs are more readily accessible.

    Self-study programs, especially those utilizing digital delivery mechanisms, are something we never had before. Interactive CD versions of our most comprehensive vapor compression cycle training are rapidly growing in popularity. RSES will introduce more computer-based training, complete with virtual troubleshooting capabilities, very shortly.

    Do you think the Internet will play a larger role in association life, perhaps even replacing meetings? If so, does your association have plans for virtual meetings?

    We don’t anticipate the Internet replacing meetings completely. Hands-on technical seminars and educational classes with face-to-face interaction are still hard to beat for absorbing and retaining information. However, as more people choose high-speed connectivity, with DSLs and cable modems, live video will make distance learning more feasible. Where virtual meetings seem ideal in the nearer term is with committee and governance events. The cost savings alone over travel and lodging make meeting online very appealing.

    RSES does believe the Internet will become the conduit for information flow from OEM technical data directly to service professionals’ hands. Every day, service people encounter scenarios where no equipment specifications are available onsite to properly troubleshoot a system or component. Through our Partners in Education© portion of, RSES has already begun making oem technical information (especially wiring diagrams) available to its members. We anticipate this growing tremendously, where manufacturer-specific data is ultimately available on technicians’ handheld, wireless PDA-type devices, all from one source — RSES.

    Looking ahead over the next 5 years, what is your association’s game plan?

    RSES definitely believes the Internet will become integral to our members’ experience. Just as web-based service software and inventory management become more common in the service professional’s daily routine, our intention is to make technical training and reference information only a click away for them as well. In the near future, we anticipate actual delivery of our materials over the Internet. As lifestyles change, people need alternatives to receive continuing education. RSES is committed to adapting itself and its programs to keep pace with these changes.

    RSES intends to continue nurturing relationships with all facets of the HVAC/R industry, particularly in regards to improving the number and quality of service professionals. With the continued shrinking of young people choosing this trade as a career, as evidenced by the alarming number of vocational and community college programs closing down, RSES intends to be a primary player in re-building that workforce.

    What do you see as the standards that will need to be addressed and finalized over the next few years?

    Technician competency and certification, first and foremost. The disparity of minimum requirements to perform service work between states and even within states needs resolution. Nationwide competency certification will provide that. Although progress has been made in the last several years, unanimous acceptance by all facets of the industry of a single certification program is the only way to set the stage for nationwide recognition.

    Similarly, accreditation procedures for secondary learning programs in hvacr are struggling. Although similar progress has been made over the past several years, it is only through programs that adhere to federal Department of Education guidelines that schools will truly flourish once accredited. While it may be new to this industry, educational experts have been developing blueprints for successful curriculum for decades. Students who choose a school and its program to launch their careers deserve the assurance that it follows accepted educational guidelines to insure its integrity.

    Safety procedures for high-pressure refrigerants need to be standardized. Several of the large OEMs require attendance in training classes and passing a competency exam — but they don’t recognize each other’s programs. Yet others don’t require anything at all. In the meantime, service professionals are working on equipment without the proper knowledge to assure safety.

    Lastly, design standards for equipment that grant service and preventive maintenance equal consideration to manufacturing cost containment is a growing trend. Too many systems just aren’t maintained properly due to engineering disregard for what happens to them after they leave the warehouse. Although it certainly is incumbent upon the service professional to have the knowledge to perform quality work, in many cases the design of components and systems make it physically impossible to do so.

    Do you see a better, faster way of creating standards?

    All facets of the industry need to shed their traditional stances. Although everyone recognizes the entire industry is undergoing unprecedented development, initiated by the change in refrigerants and fostered by the adaptation of technology, many sectors still strategize and make decisions based on historical viewpoints. We all need to consider how we fit into the future, not how to maintain our traditions.

    This stretches from the manufacturers to the wholesalers to the dealers and contractors to the service technician. We all want more service technicians and for them to be more qualified, but owners are reluctant to pay for training and certification, much less improve pay scales. Distributors and wholesalers want to reduce unnecessary warranty returns, yet offer no incentive to contractors to in turn offer their technicians incentives. Manufacturers largely want to continue setting records for selling more units.

    All of these viewpoints, while certainly understandable, do not set the stage for widespread change. In the meantime, everyone struggles, including ultimately the consumers on whom we are all dependent for a livelihood. If they continue to receive substandard service, they’ll invoke their only real playing card — legislation. Congressional intervention could provide the swiftest way to setting standards — but none of the industry factions will be well served in that scenario. We will truly achieve industry evolution by working together voluntarily, not by reacting to legislative change.

    Contractor-Based Associations

    ACCA (Air Conditioning Contractors of America) PAUL T. STALKNECHT, PRESIDENT & CEO

    What are the challenges ahead for associations — enrollment, the economy? What is on your immediate agenda?

    The hvacr industry is faced with a number of challenges on which contractors need to focus: a slowly recovering economy, insurance gaps, new liability concerns, shrinking labor pools, changing regulatory requirements, and a negative public image.

    ACCA’s sole mission is to fight for the interests of hvacr contractors and help our members operate profitably, so the challenges faced by our members are the challenges we take on. We are fortunate because the hvacr contracting industry brings a huge number of strengths to the table that, when focused and unified, will help them overcome these challenges: Successful hvacr contractors are usually flexible and able to change in order to compete; they are committed to the industry, their companies, and their employees; they are engaged in their local communities; and they are realistic in their expectations of growth and have a healthy focus on expanded profitability and not just market share.

    This year, ACCA is focused on several key areas:

  • Strengthen the hvacr grassroots network.

    ACCA’s real value to contractors lies in our federated structure; we are able to develop and deliver services and representation at all levels. There are currently gaps in the ACCA federation, however, and a need to strengthen the ACCA affiliate grassroots network. We have committed to forming at least five new state/regional associations this year to operate under the ACCA umbrella and provide support to contractors in their local areas. Efforts are already underway in California and the New England Region.

  • Help ACCA members differentiate themselves in the marketplace.

    ACCA is not interested in representing all contractors, only the best contractors, be they large or small. ACCA is focused on providing tools and resources that contractors can use to differentiate themselves from their competitors in the marketplace. These resources include:

    1. A strong focus on NATE certification. We are working with our chapters, manufacturers, and other partners in order to make certification more accessible to contractors, as well as to promote the importance of the certification process to the end consumer. ACCA’s Chairman, Jim Hussey, has set an ambitious goal to test 2,002 technicians this year.

    2. Employee background check services through our partnership with DAC Services. Technicians spend a great deal of time in other people’s homes and offices; contractors can offer homeowners peace of mind by assuring them that employees have undergone criminal checks and drug/alcohol tested. ACCA is also in the process of developing other value-added, exclusive services for our members like this one, which they can use, not only to benefit their own operations, but to market their services.

    3. Promotion of appropriate load calculation, using ACCA-approved methods (such as the new, revised edition of Manual J, which will be released this year), as the best tool for ensuring that installed hvacr systems operate cleanly, efficiently, and safely. We will work with states and municipalities to ensure that use of Manual J continues to be a requirement in many building codes, and are talking with insurance companies to demonstrate that contractors who use ACCA installation methods are lower risks.

  • Help the “toolbox” meet the “briefcase.”

    Today’s contractors are more professional than ever before; long gone are the days of the itinerant technician. Contractors of all sizes are engaged in multifaceted businesses, and need to know as much about management, financial, and marketing operations as they do technical design, installation, and maintenance procedures.

    ACCA is proud of its heritage as the leading developer and supplier of technical resources for this industry; this year, we’re expanding even further, with a major new revision to Manual J, new schedules for technical revisions, the hiring of a new Vice President for Research & Technology to focus exclusively on technical issues, and recognition by ANSI as a standards development organization.

    However, we also recognize that contractors have changed, and need new resources and tools to help them be better employers, expand profits, meet regulatory requirements, and avoid liability. Through our communications and education programs, including a new website to be launched this year, we will be providing contractors with these tools and resources. We will be the channel through which contractors can learn from each other how to run a really effective contracting business. And we are also improving our MIX Group® program, which brings non-competing contractors together in small networking groups. Our goal is to make it easier for contractors to start a group, keep it running, and get the most out of it.

    We are also seeking to establish closer relationships with hvacr manufacturers to provide for a healthy, vibrant, and profitable industry, recognizing that contractors and manufacturers have more in common than in conflict.

    Is enrollment falling or increasing? Why?

    Prior to my joining ACCA in March 2001, the organization had gone through several years of diminishing membership. In January 2003, we will enter into a new federated structure with our affiliates, in which contractors will belong to ACCA at all membership levels available in their geographic region. This new structure will allow us to provide better service to contractors all over the country. And as mentioned above, we are committed to local presence, and are forming state associations where they don’t already exist.

    Over the past several months, we have been encouraged by the large numbers of companies that have joined or re-joined ACCA. In fact, over 400 companies joined ACCA in 2001, the largest number of new enrollments in many years.

    But as we look toward federation and our new, focused organization, our focus is on serving the best contractors in the nation, not the most. Our Board of Directors has established a vision for excellence, and those contractors which share the vision are welcome and encouraged to participate in ACCA. We’re here to serve them.

    What do you have to offer to contractors now that you may not have had to offer just 5 years ago?

    ACCA is a completely different organization than it was five years ago. But the hvacr contracting industry is also very different from what it was five years ago. Many of ACCA’s core functions from that time still exist -- our technical library, for example -- but we have been given the mandate by our members to adapt to the new world and their new needs, and that’s what we’re doing.

  • Our members now receive the weekly ACCA Insider, a popular email/fax newsletter with information on the industry, trends, and ACCA; a quarterly magazine, Contractor Excellence; and will soon have access to a large number of specialized articles and resources on our new website. We completely revamped our annual conference this year, to great acclaim, including new content, dynamic speakers, and high-quality production. We have eliminated many of the old “affinity programs” that diluted our brand name and provided little value, instead focusing on a few core business programs that will save our members money and improve their competitiveness.

  • We have shown we are willing to take chances in order to provide immediate value to our members. Last year, for example, following the anthrax scares we co-sponsored the National hvacr Systems Security Summit with The News; organized in a very short period of time, it was a tremendous success, well-received, and has opened up new doors for ACCA in the White House.

  • We are refocusing our legislative and regulatory efforts to ensure that we are providing the best value to our members. While we remain committed partners in the fight to eliminate utility cross-subsidization, it is not our sole focus. We are also moving to develop a model licensing law that states can use for hvacr contracting, improve building codes to ensure quality hvacr installation, and seeking changes in tax laws to help contractors get business and make the most of their money.

    Do you think the Internet will play a larger role in association life, perhaps even replacing meetings? If so, does your association have plans for virtual meetings?

    The Internet will certainly play a larger role in ACCA. Our new website, to be launched this spring and replace the one that is currently online, will be dynamic, database-driven, and full of specialized content for our members. It will become the communications hub for ACCA. We will also be introducing online certification for CFC with our chapter and university partners, and will be exploring the possibility of providing NATE education and testing online. In the long run, we hope to phase print out altogether as a communications delivery mechanism.

    As far as meetings, we have been investigating the possibility of conducting real-time meetings via the web. Most programs available, from what we have learned from other associations’ experiences, are not yet “ready for prime time.” There is still a desire from many members to hold certain meetings and educational sessions face-to-face, but certain committee and task force meetings have already moved to a conference call platform, so the web may be the next step in that evolution. We are always exploring new options to deliver service to our members.

    Looking ahead over the next 5 years, what is your association’s game plan?

    Given the pace of change -- in society, technology, and this industry -- it is always difficult to make long-term predictions. However, ACCA Chairman Jim Hussey has convened a Future Strategies Task Force to look at the trends impacting the industry, evaluate the alternatives that the industry may face in the next five years, and provide common-sense recommendations for contractors to implement to prepare for an hvacr industry that will be very different from the one today.

    ACCA’s own plan is to continue in our mission to become the essential partner for contractor excellence. Over the next several years we will be strengthening our federation, building alliances within the industry, promoting our members to consumers, reaching out to the media to enhance the image of contracting, enhancing the professionalism of ACCA operations, and building new educational programs to help contractors operate profitably.

    Over time, everything else may change, but one thing will stay the same: our bottom line is our members’ success. We don’t have any other mission.

    MCAA (Mechanical Contractors Association of America, Inc.)


    What are the challenges ahead for associations -- enrollment, the economy? What is on your immediate agenda?

    Construction industry associations, like the industry itself, must always balance an emphasis on fundamentals with the need for innovative approaches. MCAA has been in the business of serving mechanical construction and service contractors for well over a century now and it seems that what contractors want from us today is pretty much what they expected in 1889 or 1940 or 1965: provision of excellent educational programs; advocacy on legislative issues; and fostering a collaborative relationship with our labor partners at the United Association. All this, of course, must be done with a great sense of fiduciary responsibility. We consider that the dues our members pay are an investment in their future success and, as such, must be handled prudently and creatively.

    Our contractor members have always been among the most successful in the nation and, despite the many changes in the industry, our enrollment has never been better. I believe that, as long as we do not become complacent and continue to exceed our members’ expectations, we will persist in attracting contractors who expect nothing but the best from their national association.

    As far as the economy goes, our mission at MCAA is to offer member services that are equally valuable in good times and bad. We all know that construction is a cyclical industry. At MCAA, we believe that excellent education, well-directed legislative advocacy and progressive labor relations are important no matter what the economic climate.

    Is enrollment falling or increasing? Why?

    MCAA’s membership has grown steadily for the past six years. I like to believe that our ability to respond quickly and creatively as our members’ needs change has been an important reason why we have not experienced a decrease in our membership growth rate.

    What do you have to offer to contractors now that you may not have had to offer just 5 years ago?

    One important challenge that became apparent just about five years ago was the need to attract talented and energetic young people into the management ranks of our industry and our member companies. Although the economy has slowed down and some areas of the country are feeling the pinch, as an industry we are still challenged by the need to attract qualified young people.

    MCAA’s three-year old Career Development Initiative has worked hard to address this problem.

    One of our strongest efforts has been in the development of student chapters at colleges and universities around the country. MCAA’s Career Development Committee -- and participating local associations -- have done a tremendous job in encouraging student chapter development.

    What started as one student chapter a few years ago now has become 16. In 2001, we also created a student chapter summit and a student chapter competition, both of which were enthusiastically received by students and contractors alike. After watching the excellent performance of the student chapter members as they presented their competition proposals during our 2002 convention, I am much more hopeful about the future of our industry.

    The need for leadership education has also become evident during the last several years. MCAA responded to this need by creating our newest educational venture, the Advanced Leadership Institute. I feel confident that this new program will equip current and future industry leaders with the skills they need to create and communicate a vision of the future that goes well beyond management strategies and techniques.

    Do you think the Internet will play a larger role in association life, perhaps even replacing meetings? If so, does your association have plans for virtual meetings?

    The Internet already plays a large role in our association communications program. If by “meetings,” you mean our annual convention and other educational programs, then I’d have to say that I can’t see virtual meetings replacing them. Although our members certainly value the educational components of these programs, they also appreciate the opportunity for informal social contact and idea exchange with their peers.

    Looking ahead over the next 5 years, what is your association’s game plan?

    Our recently updated strategic plan guides us in the near term. Its objectives include:

  • Fostering an environment that encourages continuous learning within our membership.

  • Pursuing workforce recruitment and development programs to assist our members in their efforts to staff their companies.

  • Working with the United Association to enhance our members’ competitiveness and their ability to exceed the expectations of their customers.

  • Evaluating technologies for the office and the field; informing and educating our members about them

  • Recognizing and adapting to ever-changing industry and membership trends, characteristics and needs.

  • Supporting our affiliated associations with respect for their full autonomy.

  • Enhancing market opportunities for our members through active participation in organizations that represent our members’ customers.

  • Ensuring that our resources are allocated in a manner that supports the accomplishment of our strategic objectives.

    The underlying methodology for achieving our objectives, of course, involves active, ongoing evaluation of our member services. We listen to our members and act on their suggestions.

    PHCC-NA (Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors — National Association)


    What are the challenges ahead for associations — enrollment, the economy? What is on your immediate agenda?

    PHCC is in a change mode. After 120 years, PHCC reinvented itself last year. We started with a long-range planning session that resulted in a plan that was implemented last year and will continue for the next couple of years. That plan is subject to change as members’ needs change. We are excited about our new direction.

    Is enrollment falling or increasing? Why?

    Our membership numbers are increasing for the first time in four years. Our goal is to increase the membership over 70% before 2005. We can do it, because the leadership and staff of PHCC are committed to making any changes necessary to give every potential member a reason to join.

    What do you have to offer to contractors now that you may not have had to offer just 5 years ago?

    We are way ahead in communication compared to five years ago. Members do not have to wait for a monthly newsletter to see what is going on at PHCC. They can look on the Web site or read a weekly e-mail report. Today’s contractors want access to the information they need 24/7. Their customers require that kind of attention and they expect the same of their association.

    Our government affairs efforts have changed drastically over the last five years. We are able to influence more legislation that directly affects our members — mostly because they have come to realize that they can influence the laws of the land. There are very few citizens who get involved politically — we know that and it gives us a great deal of influence.

    Do you think the Internet will play a larger role in association life, perhaps even replacing meetings? If so, does your association have plans for virtual meetings?

    Conference calls now serve as our virtual meetings. Our leaders do much more decision making over the phone than ever before. The next step is on-line meetings and then virtual meetings. We see the value of on-line education, and are looking into options to offer it.

    Before we move on to virtual meetings, we have to determine that there is a real value in them. Looking at other meeting participants via virtual technology can be exciting, but is it important to the decision making process? Time will tell. We have the hardware and software for virtual meetings, but have yet to see the value.

    Looking ahead over the next 5 years, what is your association's game plan?

    We have specific plans to grow the membership by 70%, as I mentioned earlier. We also want to streamline our governance. That means make decisions and get things done faster.

    The third goal is to grow our convention and trade show into the largest in North America. This is the first year for the ISH — North America trade show. We have partnered with the German management group that has the largest industry trade show in Europe. Our other partners for ISH-North America are the American Supply Association and the Canadian Institute of Plumbing and Heating. You can learn more about this exciting show and more about PHCC on our website at

    SMACNA (Sheet Metal & Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association)


    What are the challenges ahead for associations ─ enrollment, the economy? What is on your immediate agenda?

    SMACNA is working closely with its labor partners, the Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association (SMWIA) to create a national marketing program whose goal is to build market share for the union sector of the sheet metal industry. We anticipate a national unveiling of the program next year.

    A universal need of all contractors is a skilled work force. As union contractors SMACNA has one of the best and most sophisticated training systems available in the construction industry today. SMACNA and the SMWIA continue to work closely together to insure that their joint training program train for the skills required today, while keeping an eye on the ever-changing needs and skills required for the future.

    In fact, we have just introduced a joint apprentice training center (JATC) accreditation program to assist local training centers in delivering increased levels of service and product delivery to apprentices and journeymen.

    Is enrollment falling or increasing? Why?

    SMACNA’s membership remains strong. Like most associations whose dues revenues are based on a measure of the marketplace, SMACNA has experienced a slight lessening of revenues during the last several months. It is too soon to tell if this trend will continue.

    What do you have to offer to contractors now that you may not have had to offer just 5 years ago?

    SMACNA members will soon have access to the products and services provided by the New Horizons Foundation. At its January 2002 board meeting, the SMACNA Board of Directors agreed to establish a sheet metal industry foundation and committed $2 million to get the nonprofit 501(c) 3 organization started.

    There are numerous ways this foundation will benefit SMACNA members. For example, it will provide a vehicle to receive contributions from those who participate and benefit from the industry, but are not SMACNA members; e.g. architects/engineers, manufacturers, suppliers, and distributors.

    The foundation will create a new industry resource for the production of projects outside of SMACNA’s traditional service realm such as labor relations, technical and legislative, etc. These new project areas include education, training, and non-technical research.

    Currently the Foundation has three projects in developmental stages.

    1. “The Cumulative Impact of Change Orders” project’s goal is to increase the accuracy of estimating the actual impact of sheet metal work changes on the labor estimates during construction.

    2. Another proposal that is a collaborative effort between labor and management takes a look at the “future of union construction” and will help contractors and union leaders envision their goals and aspirations for the future.

    3. The third project is geared to evaluating ways of attracting the future workforce of the “millennium” generation and changing the perception of the industry in the minds of the young.

    Do you think the Internet will play a larger role in association life, perhaps even replacing meetings? If so, does your association have plans for virtual meetings?

    Yes, the Internet will play a larger role in association life. In May, SMACNA members will be able to download, from our website (, SMACNA’s technical manuals and standards as well as technical drawings and specifications. In addition, SMACNA just offered its members a free online safety training course that previews OSHA’s new record keeping rule. The information is delivered over the Internet with full audio, animation/photos and text. As far as virtual meetings are concerned SMACNA has no immediate plans to conduct any at this time, but as the technology is perfected we may consider them.

    Looking ahead over the next 5 years, what is your association’s game plan?

    We believe that our future success is dependent upon building a strong partnership with our labor partners, the SMWIA. Together, as labor and management, we have identified “best practices” among our local chapters and unions who have strong local market shares. We are in the process of communicating those “best practices” to our members and providing the guidance necessary to initiate and implement those practices in each local marketplace.

    SMACNA will continue to fuel the growth of its Market Sector Councils providing high quality programs and services specifically designed to increase the profitability of SMACNA members performing work in the residential, service, custom fabricating and manufacturing, HVAC, industrial, duct manufacturing, and architectural sectors.