The Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA) has built its reputation on sensitivity to evolving industry trends and a commitment to preparing members to take advantage of current and future opportunities. A few of the programs offered during 2004 give a glimpse into future plans.

In addition to its Institute for Project Management (IPM) program, MCAA has developed the Advanced IPM to enhance the skills of experienced mechanical industry project managers. The first course was offered in mid-October, 2004.

Project Management

MCAA has been known for high-quality project management education for years, primarily because of the Institute for Project Management (IPM). The leaders of companies whose project managers have benefited from the IPM asked for more of the same kind of education, but at a higher level.

In response, MCAA developed the Advanced IPM to enhance the skills of experienced mechanical industry project managers. The first course was offered in October of 2004. The next one is scheduled for Oct. 9-14, 2005.

The 2004 Project Performance Conference approached project management in a different way. Built around a central case study, the conference challenged participants to think about the project from all points of view to arrive at solutions that work for contractor and owner alike.

The case at the core of the conference illustrated the challenges posed by some of our industry's hottest issues: owner-supplied equipment, the financial failure of a key sub, bids won through an Internet reverse auction, and the unexpected rise in commodity costs.

The Road To Leadership

Developing the skills of current and future leaders of member companies is another vital MCAA objective. Two years ago, MCAA initiated a program designed for this purpose: the Advanced Leadership Institute (ALI).

The ALI goes beyond bottom-line questions to address more strategic concerns. The continuously evolving curriculum is developed jointly by the Babson College School of Executive Education faculty members and MCAA/Mechanical Service Contractors of America (MSCA) contractors.

Graduates find themselves with a network of fellow alumni with whom they can continue to explore industry issues.

Connecting To The Future

The 2004 Student Chapter Summit, held in late September, embodied MCAA's commitment to looking even further into the future. By reaching out to students enrolled in construction management or other related curricula, MCAA is accomplishing two objectives:

1. Students are introduced to many career opportunities available to them in mechanical construction, service, and plumbing.

2. MCAA member companies gain access to a number of well-qualified students who may be future employees.

The program included a mini-competition, roundtable discussion, special interest sessions, and a tour of Trane's manufacturing facilities.

Students also received the specs for the 2004 Student Chapter Competition, a process that will culminate during MCAA's 2005 convention. At that time the final four teams will present their proposals before judges from MCAA's Career Development Committee and an audience of contractors.

MCAA’s 2005 convention will be held at the Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa, Scottsdale, Ariz.

Bringing People Together

This education and networking opportunity is scheduled for Feb. 27-March 3 at the Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa, Scottsdale, Ariz.

MCAA 2005 will showcase renowned session speakers - Tom Brokaw, George Tenet, Julie Andrews, and John Walsh - and offer education about management, leadership, and many industry-specific topics.

One of the latter, "Leveraging the Value Chain to Become More Competitive," exemplifies the ways in which key industry and association stakeholders combine their expertise and resources to benefit members through innovative approaches. In this session, members of MCAA's Manufacturer/

Supplier Council, along with a successful mechanical contractor, will discuss the potential benefits and opportunities offered by this kind of value chain integration, as well as potential barriers and challenges.

The session grew out of a research project on the same subject that was funded by the Mechanical Contracting Education & Research Foundation (MCERF), an organization that has added great value to the industry, not only through funding original research, but by supporting other important efforts.

During 2004, MCERF funded and MCAA distributed the following safety publications: Toolbox Safety Talks, Volume III; Welding & Cutting Safety Training Kit; Electrical Safety Training Kit; Model Mold Prevention Program; and tests on welding and cutting safety and electrical safety to be included in the MCAA Safety Training Kit - Test Series.

Plans are underway for a revision of MCAA's Guideline for Quality Piping Installation, a member resource that was first published in 1996.

Service Contractors Celebrate Excellence

Another annual event, Mechanical Service Contractors Association's (MSCA's) educational conference, brings together contractors from the thriving service sector of the industry. During the 2004 conference, attendees were introduced to new skills and techniques, enjoyed inspiring keynote speakers, and had the chance to exchange ideas with peers from all over the country.

They were also updated on many other MSCA programs, including the Service Seminar Series, Service Managers Training Program, Selling Skills Training Program, and the Microbiological Management Plan Seminar for the HVACR Service Industry.

An elite group of 20 contractors who are raising the standard in the mechanical service contracting industry by becoming MSCA Star qualified were honored during the conference.

In order to become MSCA Star qualified, these companies must provide education and training for all employees, implement a service safety program, maintain an outstanding safety record, establish an inventory control program, maintain the highest levels of customer service standards, and employ United Association (UA) Star-certified technicians.

John R. Gentille is executive vice president and CEO of the MCAA, Rockville, Md. For more information on programs offered by MCAA, MSCA, and the Plumbing Contractors of America (PCA), visit

Publication date: 11/29/2004