The city of New Orleans will be the backdrop for ACCA’s 36th Annual Conference (above and below).
NEW ORLEANS - The Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) is throwing its 36th Annual Conference and Indoor Air Expo in New Orleans, right after Mardi Gras concludes. That may be one reason why the event, to be held Feb. 25-28 at the New Orleans Marriott, is expected set the attendance record for the largest ACCA conference ever.

It also explains the expo's clever theme: "Unmask Your Potential."

According to ACCA, as of early February, contractor registrations for the event are more than 10 percent higher than those for last year's conference in Palm Springs, Calif., which holds the current record for attendance. Meanwhile, the Indoor Air Expo, the trade show held in conjunction with the conference, has been sold out for weeks, with a waiting list of exhibitors.

Needless to say, ACCA is pleased with the way its convention is shaping up. The association stresses that it has plenty to offer for attendees, too.

In addition to the trade show, ACCA is sponsoring educational sessions, offered in five distinct training tracks. The following is a brief description of the respective offerings.

Best Practices Track

These are workshops and panels featuring contractors speaking from their real-world experience. Some of the available sessions include:

  • "Best Practices of the Residential Contractor," moderated by John R. Hall, business management editor for The News.

  • "Basics of Financial Ratio Management," led by Mike Callahan of Venvest of Florida LLC.

  • "Under 15 Employees: Growing and Improving Effectiveness and Image," led by Chris Colditz of Laco Mechanical Services.

  • "Best Practices of the Commercial Contractor," moderated by Mark Skaer, editor-in-chief of The News.

  • "Women in the HVAC Industry," moderated by Laura DiFillipo of DiFillipo's Service Co. Inc.

  • "Diversity in the HVACR Industry," led by Grace Odums of Diversity Unlimited.

  • "How to Affect Change in State Politics," led by Chris Colditz of Laco Mechanical.

    Legal Issues Track

    These educational sessions will focus on important legal issues in the HVACR contracting industry. Available sessions include:

  • "Wage and Hour Issues for the HVACR Industry," led by Laurie Baulig of Gurne, Porter & Baulig PLLC.

  • "Mold: Current Trends in Litigation and Insurance," led by Ronald Lee and Aaron McQueen of Roetzel & Andress; David Benneck of AON Environmental; and Nick Ganick of Envision.

  • "Class Action and Mass Tort Litigation in Mold Cases," led by Donald C. Massey of Adams and Reese.

    Residential Track

    Offerings include educational sessions designed for contractors with an interest in residential service and installation. On that list are:

  • "Performance-Based Compensation," led by James Leichter of

  • "How Residential Contractors Can Make Energy Star Work for Them," led by Steve Ryan of the Environmental Protection Agency.

  • "Diagnosing Common Hot/

    Cold Complaints," led by Glenn Friedman, P.E., of Taylor Engineering.

  • "How to Be an Island of Excellence in an Ocean of Mediocrity," led by Nancy Friedman of The Telephone Doctor.

  • "Developing the Ultimate Service Technician: Willy Sutton Got it Right," led by John and Vickie La Plant of VLE Enterprises.

  • "What a New Service Technician Wants," moderated by Marc Bridgens of Pennsylvania College of Technology.

    ACCA contractors are expected to arrive in record numbers for the association’s annual conference in New Orleans.

    Commercial Track

    On this agenda are educational sessions designed specifically for commercial contractors. Available offerings include:

  • "Diagnosing Common Hot/Cold Complaints," led by Glenn Friedman, P.E., of Taylor Engineering.

  • "The Unmasking of ASHRAE Standard 90.1 - The Energy Standard for Commercial Buildings," led by Julian R. deBullet of McQuay International.

  • "A New Standard for Acoustics in the Classroom," led by Dave Guckelberger Sr. of Trane.

  • "Reinventing the Wheel: New Opportunities for Energy Recovery Ventilation," led by Bede Wellford of Airexchange.

  • "Thermal Energy Storage: Cooling Systems Made Simple," led by Steve Benz of Baltimore AirCoil Company and Paul Valenta of Calmac Manufacturing Corp.

  • "Rooftop Replacement and Selection," led by Paul Van Lacket of Rheem Manufacturing.

    Marketing/Management Track

    Convention organizers are calling these workshops places "where HVACR contractors can learn innovative ideas for how to market their businesses." The topics include:

  • "High Performance HVAC Marketing," led by Adams Hudson of Hudson, Ink.

  • "Making the Most Of Every Sales Opportunity," led by Bill Napolitano of Achievement Dynamics Inc.

  • "The Five Critical Components of Providing Customer Service," led by John Garofalo of Callahan/Roach & Garofalo.

  • "E-Mail Marketing: This Time It's Personal," moderated by Kevin Holland of ACCA.

  • "The Benefits of Extended Service Agreements," led by Craig Funke of Equiguard Inc.

    More Sponsors, Too

    ACCA has added a fifth "Platinum Elite" sponsor, One Hour Air Conditioning & Heating, a franchise opportunity for contractors offered by VenVest Inc. It joins fellow Platinum Elite sponsors Carrier, Rheem Manufacturing, Trane, and York International.

    According to ACCA, each sponsor in this category makes a major investment in the conference, thereby helping to keep costs down for the contractors attending "while providing for a first-class educational experience."

    "As we get ready to head down to the Big Easy, we're obviously excited because all the indicators point to one heck of a show," said Paul T. Stalknecht, ACCA president and CEO. "And we have been working for more than a year now with our contractor members in order to deliver an experience that will pay huge dividends for all our attendees.

    "But we know that the ACCA conference is more than just a trade show, more than just a training ground. It's a community, where contractors come together, meet old friends and make new ones, and share ideas and best practices that make contractors profitable and professional. It's an exciting time, and the more contractors participate, the more they get out of it."

    Other sponsors for the event include: Nordyne; Energy Star; Copeland; Lennox; North American Technician Excellence (NATE); The Air Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration News; Equiguard; Bristol Compressors; Wrightsoft; Contracting Business; Elite Software; USIS; and NOVA Information Systems.

    Sidebar: 2004 Contractor Excellence Finalists

    NEW ORLEANS - The Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) announced the finalists for its 2004 Contractor Excellence Awards. The winners will be revealed at ACCA's 2004 Annual Conference and Indoor Air Expo.

    "ACCA is proud to represent and serve the best contractors in the country," said Paul T. Stalknecht, ACCA's president and CEO. "These finalists represent the best of the best in the HVACR industry and will continue to raise the bar with their example."

    Finalists for the Excellence in Residential Contracting Award include A. J. Warren Service Company, Houston; Air Assurance Co., Broken Arrow, Okla.; Airco Service Inc., Tulsa, Okla.; AirRite Air Conditioning Co., Fort Worth, Texas; Albemarle Heating and Air Inc., Charlottesville, Va.; Atlas Butler Heating & Cooling, Columbus, Ohio; Great Dane Heating & Air Conditioning, Clinton Township, Mich.; Jackson & Sons Heating and Air Conditioning, Dudley, N.C.; McAfee Heating & Air Conditioning Co. Inc., Kettering, Ohio; Newcomb and Company, Raleigh, N.C.; and Peaden Air Conditioning & Heating, Panama City, Fla.

    Finalists for the Excellence in Commercial Contracting Award are J & J Air Conditioning, San Jose, Calif., and CHC Mechanical Contractors, Cookeville, Tenn. Finalists in the Jeff Forker Award for Excellence in Training category are Air Assurance Co., Broken Arrow, Okla., and Atlas Butler Heating & Cooling, Columbus, Ohio.

    - John Hall

    Publication date: 02/23/2004