Two major Florida associations have joined forces and the big winners in the merger are the contractors of Florida.

The Florida Air Conditioning Contractors Association and the Florida chapter of the Air Conditioning Contractors of America have been incorporated as the Air Conditioning Contractors of America Florida Inc., and will together be known as the Florida Air Conditioning Contractors of America (FACCA), effective immediately.

"These are two strong organizations that together represent one big opportunity for contractors in our state," said Tommy Castellano of Castellano's Air Conditioning & Heating, Tampa, Fla., FACCA's first elected chairman. "By combining our forces, we will make it easier for contractors to gain access to top-notch training programs and maintain a strong local presence while also accessing the benefits and services of the nation's leading HVACR association."

The two associations decided to merge after beginning discussions nearly a year ago. "We're still putting our overall program together," said Castellano, "But there will be a full slate of local training, educational programs, business resources, and buying programs."

According to Ken Bodwell of Innovative Service Indoor Comfort, Jacksonville, Fla., former ACCA Florida president and newly elected treasurer of FACCA, Florida has over 6,000 contractors.

"There has been no single unified group representing them. When we started ACCA Florida three years ago our goal and vision was straightforward, ‘Develop a single unified voice for the contractor in Tallahassee and Washington,' " he said. "What we found was that the existing associations had many hidden agendas and a reluctance to associate with big brother in Washington.

"By merging, we hope to reach out to all contractors and demonstrate that we all share concerns over legislative and continuing education issues," continued Bodwell. "The national affiliation ensures that our unified voice is aligned with national endeavors and brings the buying power and manufacturer affiliations to a local or state level."

"Both boards have worked diligently on this merger and decided it made good sense," said Joe Strickler of Refrigeration & Electric Services, Winter Haven, Fla., newly elected FACCA senior vice chairman. "It's in the best interests of contractors for our organizations to work together, and we complement each other well - [the former] FACCA, with its powerful stable training and educational resources, and ACCA, with its ever-growing library of exclusive technical and business resources. This is a win-win for both organizations and the whole industry."

According to Castellano, no benefits will be taken from the approximately 500 members of the merged association as this merger represents opportunities to add services and benefits. Members will be notified by mail of the new arrangements as FACCA continues to grow the association and its member services.

"We are looking to improve the business climate of the HVAC contractor," said Castellano of the general Florida HVAC contractor population. "We want to help Florida HVACR contractors acquire, serve, and satisfy customers."

Currently on FACCA's agenda are issues such as lowering insurance costs and code revision involvement. "Our short term goal is to increase membership by demonstrating a payback in the way of benefits and cost savings," said Bodwell. "In the long term, education will be a driving force."

As a result of this merger, members will belong to the association at both the state and national levels. "The advantages of being members at the national level are tremendous," noted Castellano.

All FACCA members, consequently, will have access to the Management Information Exchange (Mix Groups). These groups are places where HVAC company owners from across the nation come together and share best practices and information without the risk of competition.

"Years ago, I recognized that I did not need to reinvent the wheel at every juncture and that successful contractors are willing to share their knowledge," noted Bodwell. "As businessmen, our education comes in all venues but networking at association meetings has always proved to be rewarding. This merger allows me to meet more successful contractors."

With this merger, "we see only advantages," said Castellano. "There will be a stronger voice for contractors, more strength in numbers, and better benefits for contractors of all types and sizes."

Publication date: 06/19/2006