Scott Lancer (center) of Emerson Climate Technologies was on hand to answer contractors’ questions between educational sessions.
PITTSBURGH - The 2004 Linc Service® Continuing Education Conference marked a milestone for the Linc Corp., as the organization celebrated its 25-year anniversary at the event.

The Linc Service® Network is a group of independently owned mechanical service contractors all connected by the common thread of the Linc System®.

Each contractor's area of operation is a "carefully carved out market area" defined by the Linc Corp. As a result, the contractors who gathered for this conference do not compete with one another. They used the conference as an opportunity to learn from each other, share best practices, face industry challenges as a team, and find new ways to grow and improve their businesses.

The conference is Linc's premiere training event, and it is attended by the employees from each Linc Service contractor location. This year's audience, in excess of 500 individuals, included 11 job categories ranging from principal and general manger to maintenance sales representatives, dispatchers, service managers, and business systems personnel.

A record 94 of Linc's 108 active franchise locations were represented at the conference, which featured 24 separate educational sessions in addition to a keynote address by former Naval Commander Mike Abrashoff and a closing address by sales and customer service guru Robert Stevenson.

Eugene Smithart (left) discusses the features of Turbocor Inc.’s oil-free compressor with conference attendees.

Learning From Each Other

With the theme "Built to Last," the 2004 meeting highlighted the 25th anniversary of the company. In 1979, Preston Bond founded the Linc Corp. around the Linc System, a proprietary business practice designed to ensure profitability for those Linc Service contractors who wished to enjoy the steady profits provided by a preventive maintenance service business. It encompasses all aspects of a mechanical contractor's business including software, sales, marketing, and operations procedures.

The group's company-owned stores served as a test market for the concept, and in 1980 the first independently owned contractors signed agreements to become members of the Linc Service Network. Twenty-five years later, that network has grown to include more than 100 contractors with locations in the United States, Canada, Bermuda, Australia, and New Zealand.

Texas-based contractor Anthony Mechanical Services Inc. has been a member of the Linc Service Network since 1982. Eight of Anthony's employees attended the 2004 conference, including principal John Anthony, who has attended every Continuing Education Conference since the event's inception. As he sees it, the value of the event is in the people.

"For my employees, the value lies in the classes they attend and the people they meet," Anthony said. "They get the opportunity to network with some of the Linc Network's top performers and the experience for them is invaluable. They learn from their peers and form relationships that carry them throughout the year."

Anthony encourages his employees to seek out successful individuals. "In my experience," he said, "there is not one person within the network who has not been willing to sit down and share their successes when asked. That's what this conference is all about."

"This is an environment that is unmatched in the industry," stated Tracy Price, president and CEO of the the Linc Group, which owns the Linc Corp.

"In most of the markets we serve, the Linc Service contractors are the elite service providers. This is tied directly to the fact that the group regularly interacts, measuring their successes against one another. This sharing is fostered by the noncompetitive learning environment that Linc creates."

First-time conference attendee, Bachman's Inc. of Batavia, Ohio, joined the Linc Service Network in 2003. The conference gave Bachman's employees a true sense of the breadth of Linc. According to principal Rod Bachman, the event was a first-class learning experience.

"Continuing education allowed our staff the opportunity to understand what Linc is all about," he said. "They returned to the office energized and excited. They've witnessed the success of their peers and know that they, too, can reach the same level of accomplishment. They gained a complete understanding of what we've bought into, and there is a renewed sense of pride in the company and excitement about our potential."

Bachman also credited the conference's success to the value of peer interaction. "Honestly, we were a bit apprehensive about being ‘the new kids on the block,'" he said. "However, my employees were pleasantly surprised by how warmly they were welcomed into the fold. Each member of our group has returned to the job with a peer support system. That's simply invaluable."

Honors Bestowed

The conference culminated with the annual President's Awards celebration, where 216 individual achievement awards were handed out. Among the evening's top winners were the Employees of the Year honored in each of four categories: service representative, service manager, business systems manager, and sales manager.

The highlight of the awards program was the 2003 Contractor of the Year Award, claimed by Denver and Colorado Springs-based Haynes Mechanical Systems, Inc. Principals Fred and Kraig Haynes accepted the award on behalf of the organization.

"There is a great sense of pride attached to accepting an award onstage in front of an audience of 500 strong," noted Scott Giacobbe, president and CEO of the Linc Corp. "Almost every award is the result of a nomination by the winner's general manager or direct supervisor and is highly competitive.

"These award winners are truly the best of the best in our network. This is our way of honoring them and giving them much deserved recognition in front of their peers, where it means the most."

Publication date: 05/31/2004