New at the annual Manufacturer/Supplier Council Exhibit was the MCAA Education Aisle, where the association supplied information on what it has to offer to members.
ORLANDO - Maybe the organizers of the annual Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA) Conventiondohave it right.

Instead of all work and no play at its yearly gathering, organizers set aside plenty of time for fun and entertainment for attendees. For instance, at this year's MCAA Convention, held at the posh Yacht and Beach Club at Walt Disney World, you could have:

  • Participated in the Richard Petty Ride-Along Experience. (Yes, you could have experienced the thrill of taking a three-lap ride in a two-seater NASCAR stock car driven by a professional instructor at speeds up to 125 miles per hour.)

  • Competed in the annual golf and tennis tournaments.

  • Attended a session titled "Wine and Entertaining Made Easy," hosted by Stephen Lamb, executive vice president of the MCA of Chicago.

  • Listened to some distinguished and accomplished speakers. This year former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani provided an inspirational keynote speech regarding leadership and overcoming crises. (For full report, see "Giuliani Talks Candidly About Overcoming Crises" in this issue.) Former Senator Bob Dole followed the next morning with some political words of wisdom.

    And, that's not all.

    There was General Barry McCaffrey, the former director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, who discussed "Drugs, Crime, and Terrorism"; Dr. Bob Arnot, who talked about his experience as an embedded reporter during the Iraq war; and Frank Abagnale, one of the world's most famous con men, whose life story was detailed in Steven Spielberg's 2002 movie, "Catch Me If You Can."

    And, by the way, did we mention that this convention was held inside Walt Disney World? Yeah, that was another option to explore (which many attendees did, with family in tow).

    All told, it is no wonder that more than 2,300 flocked to Orlando to "Experience the Experience," which was the convention's 2004 theme. "Each year it gets bigger and bigger," commented David Lange, a contractor from Iowa, waiting in line for refreshments during the finale at the Epcot Center. "It's unbelievable."

    Looking around at the atmosphere inside the World Showcase Pavilion, he added, "How can they top this one?"

    Business Side, Too

    This is not to say that the 2004 version was all fun. There were plenty of educational programs offered. There were also numerous committee meetings to participate in, including the student chapter competition, the Awards of Excellence breakfast, the presentation of Distinguished Service Award winners, and the annual Manufacturer/Supplier Council Exhibit, where contractors had the opportunity to see, touch, and explore the latest products and services from MCAA's Supplier Partners.

    There was also the changing of the guard. Outgoing president Thomas Williams handed the gavel over to 2004 president Michael Gossman, chairman and CEO of Midwest Mechanical Group, Overland Park, Kan. In addition, Stanley H. Berger was named president-elect. Berger is president of Arista Air Conditioning Corp., New York.

    Elected to the board of directors were Kenneth Durr, president of Durr Mechanical Construction, New York, and William Erickson, CEO of C.J. Erickson Plumbing Co., Alsip, Ill. Meanwhile, Michael Cullinane, president/comptroller of Bert Young & Sons Corp., Bellwood, Ill., was elected senior vice president and treasurer, while David Kruse, president of L.J. Kruse Co., Berkeley, Calif., was elected vice president and assistant treasurer.

    Earning the Distinguished Service Award was Robert Rimel, of All State Mechanical, Grandview, Mo. Williams praised Rimel's service on the board of directors of both MCAA and the Plumbing Contractors of America, on several committees, and as vice president of the Mechanical Contracting Education and Research Foundation.

    "Bob made many valuable contributions to the future of the industry," said Williams of Rimel, who received a standing ovation from attendees.

    Other awards and winners included:

  • Educator of the Year: Daryl Orth, student chapter faculty advisor at Purdue.

  • Foster McCarl Jr. Philanthropy Award: MCA of New Jersey.

  • 2003 Student Chapter of the Year: Purdue University.

    Bob Dole was one of the speakers at the 2004 MCAA Convention.

    Students Participate

    Purdue had to settle for second place in the student chapter competition. The contingent from Georgia Tech beat out the Boilermakers and earned the $5,000 first-place cash prize. The other two teams were from California State Polytechnic University at Pomona and Illinois State University.

    The competition consisted of putting together proposals for the construction of a 14,000-square-foot educational facility located on a hypothetical college campus. The project was presented to MCAA by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), which used the project for its 2003 student competition.

    MCAA also presented charters to four new student chapters:

  • Construction Management Society of Minnesota State University Moorhead;

  • Western Carolina University Construction Management Student Organization;

  • MCAA Student Chapter at Northeastern University; and

  • MCA Groundbreakers Chapter of the University of Louisiana at Monroe.

    MCAA now has a total of 20 student chapters.

    Meanwhile, Best Practices Awards went to six affiliates:

  • ARCA/MCA of Southern California, for its customized training program for mechanical equipment servicemen and mechanical equipment service tradesman classifications;

  • MCA of Akron, for its 40-hour apprenticeship training and tool program;

  • MCA of Iowa for its MSDS Binderworks;

  • MCA of New Jersey, for sponsoring Fairleigh Dickinson University's certificate in mechanical engineering technology;

  • MCA of Western Washington, for its academic relations program; and

  • Metropolitan Detroit PMCA, for its "Management Input" with pipefitter apprentices.

    The Safety Award winners were:

  • Category 1 (100,000 work hours and under): Shinn Mechanical, Bellevue, Wash.

  • Category 2 (100,000-250,000 work hours): N. Pitlor & Son, Inc., Omaha, Neb.

  • Category 3 (250,000-400,000 work hours): W. A. Botting Co., Woodinville, Wash.

  • Category 4 (400,000-1 million work hours): McClure Co., Harrisburg, Pa.

  • Category 5 (more than 1 million work hours): Industrial Contractors Inc., Evansville, Ind.

    Sidebar: Giuliani - Government Must Prepare Relentlessly

    ORLANDO - In the eyes of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, the United States government must now prepare relentlessly to avoid another tragedy like September 11.

    "We have to be prepared," said the featured speaker at the 2004 Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA) Convention. "We have to say to ourselves, ‘What is going to happen to us next? How it is going to happen?'"

    Giuliani remembered the lesson he was taught at his first law firm.

    "For every one hour in court, there is four hours of preparation," he said. "You should go over everything. No matter how well you are prepared, something will happen that you did not anticipate. And you are going to have the answer because you anticipated everything else. Everyone is going to think you are a genius. The fact is, if you prepare for everything else, you will be prepared for the unanticipated."

    Giuliani said having preventive drills for "other things, like anthrax threats" helped New York City during that fateful day.

    "When they have these alerts, is it worth it? I believe it is," he said, answering his own question. "It is worth it to drill, to exercise, to go over all of these things. We have to assume that they are going to attack us again. We also have to assume that they will attack us in a way we have not anticipated."

    - Mark Skaer

    Publication date: 05/03/2004