NASHVILLE, TN — Over 200 members of Contractors 2000 participated in the organization’s first-ever “Super Training Week.” The event provided HVACR, plumbing, and electrical contractors with the option to participate in one of six in-depth educational offerings.

These were not typical association workshops. Contractors 2000 presented its members with six separate “colleges” to attend for three full days of training.

Some of the educational sessions were familiar to members of the organization, while other sessions were completely new. What made the Super Training Week unique was the number of training opportunities available at one time in the same place.

According to Greg Niemi, president of Contractors 2000, several of the colleges have been available to members in the past. The idea was to schedule each training session at the same time so that members have the opportunity to network with other members. This schedule allows member companies to bring a few different employees to take part in separate training classes.

The inaugural Super Training Week included training sessions on company management, sales, and effective teaching.

Jim Ackerman (standing) leads a session for the Marketing Masters Academy, which was designed to explore sales, marketing, advertising, and financial considerations.


The Gold Star Management Academy, according to Niemi, is an old and popular favorite.

“Gold Star is our flagship course,” he said. “It’s a priceless course with everything you wanted to know about management and service.”

Instructors for the course included Bill Raymond from Frank & Lindy P&H Service, Jeff Meehan from Cabrillo Plumbing & Heating, Mark LaFave from the Friedman Group, and Sheri Bennefeld from Contractors 2000.

The program was tailored specifically for the management of residential service providers. Some main topics included an introduction to service management, coaching of employees, planning and implementing successful goals, and hiring and retention.

Meehan presented the attendees with business tips he has learned from running his own business. He is the first to say that he has made mistakes in running his business, and he urged participants to learn from his errors.

Recruitment and retention was one of the main topics presented by Meehan. He told participants that they can hire anyone to fill a space, but they must be trainable and committed.

“You have to make sure the person is in for the long term,” Meehan said. “It’s like a marriage.”

Meehan said that everyone in the business should be involved with recruitment. Finding top-quality employees should be a constant concern, and there should be a budget established for recruitment efforts. Most importantly, Meehan said that owners should ask if their place of business is the kind of place where someone would want to work. “Know what you need and know what your employees want,” he said.

Bennefeld spoke to the audience about a variety of issues, including personality profiling and working with different people.

“Managing your shop is about managing people,” she said. “If you don’t know what makes them tick, you can’t do that.”

While Gold Star focused on the basics of service management, the Top Gun Sales Management course focused on the fundamentals of managing a sales department.

The program, which was led by John O’Connor from O’Connor P&H Inc. and Steve Howard from the ACT Group, instructed members on how to develop sales leads and how to close sales. Attendees were asked to do some role-playing. It was their job to calculate the prices of a repair job and a replacement. They also needed to present these two options as though they were presenting them to a customer and explain the pros and cons of each method.

O’Connor shared ideas on how owners can continue to market during the slow periods and how to generate legitimate sales leads. Howard also instructed attendees on being knowledgeable about equipment, installations, and pricing.


At the Super Training Week, Contractors 2000 launched a new course called BOSS — Business Owners School of Success.

According to Niemi, members who attend BOSS “will leave with a refined vision for their company and be skilled to communicate it.”

The BOSS program was designed for members of Contractors 2000 who are doing well and have a handle on their business, but want to take it to the next level. It also focused a great deal on leadership and how to take goals and make them a reality.

Pat Caldie, Mike Braun, and Al Mason of Organizational Concepts International led the BOSS session.

“This program is about where you want to be [with your business] and how you get there,” said Mason.

The course had a limited number of participants to allow for a more conversational atmosphere, which would allow members to network and learn from each other. Members were asked to describe the current state of their businesses and list the goals they would like to reach. By the end of the three-day session, the instructors said that members would have an idea of the kind of changes they would need to make, the strategies they could implement, and the type of leadership that would be required to carry out their goals.

The Marketing Masters Academy, like BOSS, was about developing strategies to improve business. But Marketing Masters took a more direct look at marketing plans, selling, advertising, and several other financial considerations.

Jim Ackerman of Ascend Marketing, Ed Wolfe Jr. of Wolfe Plumbing, Heating, and Air-Conditioning, and Bob Mallory from Contractors 2000 helped members examine their budget and marketing decisions. Participants in the Marketing Masters program were expected to develop a marketing plan and a strategy that would help them fulfill their marketing goals.


Contractors 2000 presented two sessions designed to help managers and owners create a better work environment by learning to communicate and work better with employees.

Train The Trainer was presented by Matt Smith from Matt Smith Media. The course was designed to help participants become better trainers, better public speakers, and more effective communicators.

Many HVACR contractors hold in-house training for their employees, and the Train The Trainer course allowed individuals to learn methods that would help them present more effective meetings and training sessions. “There is a definite technique for training others,” said Niemi.

Members took part in exercises that would allow them to demonstrate their skills teaching in front of an audience.

Finally, Contractors 2000 offered Open Book Management — The Great Game of Business. Donna Coppock presented the course, which explained to members how businesses are more successful when all employees work toward a common goal.

The course looked specifically at how a company can implement games or competitions that will help motivate workers and increase profits.

Niemi explained that Open Book Management helps employees measure their performance and empowers them to play a more active role in the success of the company.

Coppock told attendees that by creating a game or contest, employees are working together to guarantee the success of the company. Games must include all employees and have an obtainable goal that will benefit the entire company. She also said that when the goal is reached or the game is won, all employees should be rewarded with some kind of prize. Coppock suggests not giving money as a prize, but something more tangible that all employees can share.

On the final day of the Super Training Week, participants took part in a graduation ceremony. Each member received a certificate of completion and congratulations from Contractors 2000.

Niemi said that the Super Training Week and the association help to improve the industry.

“Our members are to be an example of where we want the industry to go,” he said.

By providing contractors with the tools and training they need to be successful, Niemi believes that everyone wins. He said that with Contractors 2000, consumers will receive the service they deserve and contractors will have peace of mind knowing they have the skills that will allow their businesses to thrive.

For more information on Contractors 2000 or the Super Training Week, visit (website).

Sidebar: Contractors 2000 Elects New Officers

At a recent board of directors meeting, Contractors 2000 elected Edward A. Wolfe Jr. of Wolfe Plumbing, Heating and Air-Conditioning of Newburgh, NY, as chairman and chief executive officer for the contractor organization.

Wolfe has been a member of Contractors 2000 since 1994 and is a senior trainer for the organization, specializing in budgeting, marketing, and business management. According to Contractors 2000, Wolfe is a prime example of how the association can help contractors improve their businesses. Since joining Contractors 2000, Wolfe has seen his company grow to over 40 employees.

Wolfe succeeds Keith Broyles of Broyles Plumbing, Heating, Cooling Inc. of New Castle, IN.

Contractors 2000 also elected Tim McGuire (McGuire and Sons Plumbing, Heating & Cooling) as vice chairman, Julie Wieman (MacGregor Plumbing & Heating Inc.) as secretary, and Arnie Shaw (Centennial Plumbing, Heating & Electrical) as treasurer.

The membership of Contractors 2000 recently voted for the board of directors. They reelected McGuire and Broyles to serve another two-year term. The remaining board members include John Ward (Applewood Plumbing & Heating), Kathy Love (Gene Love Plumbing Service Inc.), Patrick Kennedy (Mister Sparky Inc.), and Bill Raymond (Frank & Lindy Plumbing & Heating Service Co.).

For more information on membership in Contractors 2000, call 888-609-5490 or visit (website).

— James Siegel

Publication date: 11/25/2002