New ACCA chairman Jim Hussey accepts applause from members at the association's 34th annual conference.
KISSIMMEE, FL — Larry Taylor experienced Sept. 11, 2001 during his term as chairman of the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA). Jim Hussey now takes over as the association’s 2002-2003 chairman.

It will be Hussey’s task to smooth over with members the board of director’s 2001 master plan to bring together ACCA and its affiliated chapters to join into a single federation. Effective Jan. 1, 2003, contractors belonging to ACCA are to join at all levels available: national, state, and local. According to ACCA president and ceo Paul Stalknecht, this move will impact more than half of ACCA’s national contractor members who currently belong only at the national level.

At the association’s 34th annual conference, held here recently, Hussey made it clear having one federation will enable ACCA to focus on its core mission, to become “the essential partner for contractor excellence. After being introduced to the strains of Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s song “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” and emerging on stage next to a Harley-Davidson motorcycle (the contractor has an extensive personal collection of the cycles), Hussey told conference attendees, “There’s a rumor that ACCA’s changing. After what we’ve seen at this year’s conference, wouldn’t you say it’s for the better?”

His response was enthusiastic applause.


Hussey, whose own business focuses on commercial design-build and energy management, said he will bring his own unique style of broad thinking and ambitiously forward movement to the organization. Some of the goals he outlined included:

  • Give ACCA members meaningful tools they can use to differentiate themselves in the marketplace. “In a crowded marketplace, it is vital that ACCA members, whatever their size, are able to prove to consumers that they are indeed the best of the best,” said Hussey. Included in this goal is a drive to conduct at least 2,002 NATE certification tests over the next 12 months through ACCA affiliates.

  • Develop ACCA-exclusive member benefit programs that represent bottom-line added value to contractors, like the employee background check program ACCA introduced in January 2002.

  • Form a Futures Task Team, to be chaired by Ohio contractor Greg Leisgang, to prepare a report on the changes expected in hvacr contracting over the next 10 years, and develop recommendations contractors can use to prepare their companies for the future.

  • Strengthen the ACCA affiliate grassroots network by devoting resources to building and growing state ACCA associations. Hussey set a goal of building at least five new state associations this year, starting in California.

  • Embrace technology to improve services to contractors and member communications, providing online certification programs, enhanced electronic media for members, and investigating the possibility of providing Internet/ Web services for members.

  • “Fix MIX” by improving the service and accessibility to ACCA’s MIX® Group Program, which brings small groups of non-competing contractors together to serve as a business advisory network.

  • Develop an ongoing revision schedule for ACCA’s technical manuals.

    “We have work to do,” said Hussey.

    ACCA president and ceo Paul Stalknecht makes a point during his pesentation at the opening general session.


    In the opening general session, Stalknecht and Taylor each gave speeches designed to both inspire and challenge members. Taylor asked that contractors catch ACCA’s vision of one voice for the contracting community, and praised contractors for all they do for their communities and the country.

    “Nothing in modern life — nothing! — would be possible without our industry,” said Taylor, president of AirRite Air Conditioning in Fort Worth TX. “We have healed the sick, saved countless lives, improved productivity a million fold. Hvacr makes it possible. And we…make hvacr possible.”

    Taylor castigated the minority of contractors who make all contractors look bad through shady business practices.

    “They are the lowballers, the liars, the cheats, the scoundrels interested only in a quick buck and getting out of town,” he said. “They are only a few in number, but their presence is felt…I say, enough is enough.

    “If we want our industry to thrive, if we want to force the lowest common denominator up to our standards or else out of business, it is up to us to make that happen. It is time for the real hvacr industry to stand up as one ACCA.”

    Concerning the future of the association, Taylor told attendees, “The gauntlet has been thrown.

    “On January 1, 2003, the old ACCA — them and us, chapter and national — will disappear. The new ACCA, one ACCA, will open its doors. If you want to raise the bar — if you believe in providing professional service, building relationships with your customers, and seeking new quality profit centers while serving your community — you belong with ACCA. You’re one of us.”

    Before stepping down, Taylor was honored with the association’s Spirit of Independence Award, given to individuals “who make an outstanding and lasting contribution to the success of the hvacr contracting industry.”

    Outgoing chairman Larry Taylor castigated the minority of contractors who make all contractors look bad through shady business practices.


    Stalknecht remembered his first day as ACCA’s ceo. It happened to be the same day the board approved a new federated structure for the organization.

    “Literally 30 minutes after my appointment was finalized, I was listening to the board discuss, question, and deliberate this new business plan,” he said. “As I listened, I realized that while I had not been involved in the obviously thoughtful and painstaking design of this new structure, it was going to be my responsibility to carry out the board’s intent. And I had no intention of letting the members down, or of shying away from tough decisions.”

    Stalknecht stressed that contractors must stick together and be willing “to step forward, roll up their sleeves, and help build an organization that effectively serves their collective needs.…Hvacr contracting is in your blood and in your bones. There’s too much at stake to walk away now.”

    He said the association must change in order to compete.

    “If I asked you the question, ‘Do you still operate and manage your business today just as you did 10 years ago, five years ago, or last year?’ I suspect few of you would say, ‘Yes.’

    “Like you adapt to change and reinvent and restructure your business to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow, so, too, must ACCA.”

    Publication date: 03/25/2002