At ACCA’s convention in San Jose, there will be more than 50 speakers and presenters, discussing everything from new technologies to innovative business practices.
SAN JOSE, Calif. - This year the first Baby Boomers will turn 60. And this year their grandchildren are starting to enter the job market. How do managers manage such a diversity of ages and attitudes? What values will tomorrow's HVACR technicians hold?

Those who attend the 2006 Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) Conference & Indoor Air Expo, to be held this week (March 28-30) at the San Jose Conference Center, will have the opportunity to explore these questions and issues in three of the 35-plus conference workshops offered over the three-day event.

First up is "Hey Dude! Managing Age Diversity in Today's Workplace" (10:15 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., March 29), led by Robert Wendover. According to the director of the Center for Generational Studies, there are four generations in the workforce now: Matures, those over 61; Boomers, their children; Generation X, and what he terms Millenials, young people who came of age with computers and cell phones.

According to Wendover, each has different expectations and values. Xers, for example, generally want a work/life balance, partly because they saw their parents work long hours.

"Many Millenials struggle with critical thinking, partially because they have grown up with so many menu-driven options," he said. "This can make it harder for them to develop their own solutions."

By approaching workers of different generations in their own terms, you'll prevent conflict, he summarized. To thrive in this new world, a contractor must understand the values and attitudes of both new and experienced workers. This workshop is designed to take a realistic, yet amusing, look at how the generations relate.


Wendover will also lead the session "From Paying Your Dues to Changing the Rules: Succession Planning and the Generations" (3 p.m. to 4:15 p.m., March 29).

Halsey Cook of Carrier, Tom Huntington of York, J.R. Jones of Rheem, and Dave Pannier of Trane were the CEO Forum participants at the ACCA convention in 2005. This year David LaGrand of Nordyne will be a new participant, replacing Jones. Moderator for the session will be NEWS editor-in-chief Mike Murphy. Attendees of the session will have the opportunity to ask questions of these top decision-makers in the manufacturing sector and hear discussion on the cutting-edge issues of the HVACR industry.
"With the Baby Boomers edging ever closer to retirement, they are being replaced by a cohort of people having a radically different take on leadership," said Wendover.

As he put it, the next generation is more likely to challenge authority than their parents' generation and want to leave their own mark on the company. This workshop focuses on how the organization can ensure tomorrow's success by integrating the aspirations of Generation Xers with the wisdom of veteran managers.

"Like it or not, they will be our leaders of tomorrow and have more to offer than one might imagine," said Wendover.

Finally, ACCA technical education consultant Dick Shaw will moderate an interactive session called "Your Future Employees ... What's on Their Mind?" (2:15 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., March 30). Students from the ACCA student chapters at Ferris State University and Pennsylvania College of Technology will be on hand to articulate what their goals and expectations are, and what their expectations are about entering the workforce. Attendees will also have the opportunity to inform the students what makes them - their future employers - tick.

"I have seen a number of young people fail in their first HVACR job with a contractor because the employee and employer weren't on the same page about the new graduate starting as a helper to a technician," said Shaw. "Good communication probably could have resolved the issue and worked toward building a young person's successful career. These are the kinds of issues we'll be examining."

NEWS editor-in-chief Mike Murphy will once again be the moderator for the CEO Forum, to be held at the ACCA convention.


Other interesting workshops offered include:

  • "Inventory and Productivity ... Controlling the Beasts!" (1:30 p.m. to 2:45 p.m., March 28), hosted by Vince DiFilippo of DiFilippo's Service Co. DiFilippo, selected by The NEWS as one of the "Best Contractor to Work For" winners in 2000, is scheduled to show how he manages "the big two": inventory and productivity. DiFilippo boasts that his company enjoys a 98 percent completion of service calls on the first visit and he said his brand new installation division can install a complete heating unit, air conditioning unit and coil, air cleaner, and thermostat in six hours with two men.

  • "Creating the Customer for Life" (3 p.m. to 4:15 p.m., March 28), hosted by Robert Wilkos of Peaden Air Conditioning. Wilkos, 2005 winner of ACCA's Residential Excellence Award, plans to provide the innovative ways he used a systematic, consistent approach to quality in order to ensure customer satisfaction and improve the bottom line. The necessity and rewards of setting up a single point of contact for quality assurance will be discussed also.

  • Two sessions will address the issue of mold: "Protect Against Your Mold Exposure" (3 p.m. to 4:15 p.m., March 28 and/or March 29) and "Mold Litigation and Current State of Case Law" (10:15 a.m.-11:30 a.m., March 29). Robert Snyder, of The Fedell Group, and Aaron McQueen, of Roetzel & Andress, speakers for the first session, plan to review recent developments in mold litigation from the perspective of a contractor, and provide an overview of risk management techniques that contractors should incorporate to protect themselves from their exposure to mold claims. In the second session, Mike Pietrykowski, of the San Francisco law firm Gordon & Rees, is scheduled to discuss the continuing explosion of mold claims and highlight litigation in California.

    Thirty-five-plus conference workshops will allow attendees the opportunity to explore various topics.
  • "Selling to Women & Couples ... Consider the Possibilities" (3 p.m. to 4:15 p.m., March 29), hosted by consultant Sharon Roberts. Roberts, who produces a monthly feature in The NEWS on the subject of selling to women, plans to shine a spotlight on the hidden opportunities and immense profits that can be reaped by tapping into the so-called "women's market."

  • "Finding Sales that Others Don't See" (2:15 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., March 30), hosted by Larry Taylor. The owner of Air Rite A/C Co., who is also a NEWS Contractor Consultant, plans to provide his thoughts, ideals, insights, and viewpoint in delivering, as he put it, "whole-house comfort." He said his session "will change how you sell, install, and maintain systems, and provide added-value to your customers."

  • "Paradigms in the HVAC Industry: Future Comings" (3:45 p.m. to 5 p.m., March 30), hosted by Michael Moore of HVAC Learning Solutions/Lennox. Moore plans to address tried and true business paradigms that can be reinvented and deployed again to meet new opportunities in today's marketplace.

    For a complete listing of workshops to be held at ACCA's conference, go to

    Sidebar: Quality Report Due

    SAN JOSE, Calif. - One session which the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) is encouraging convention attendees to sit in on is titled "ACCA QA & QI...What's in It for You!" (2:15 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., March 30).

    Contractors Skip Snyder, of Snyder Co., and Ray Isaac, of Isaac Heating and Air Conditioning, are to discuss the progress of the association's HVAC Quality Installation Specification, a document designed to establish a minimum criteria to assist contractors in installing HVAC systems that "meet customer demands for energy efficiency, comfort, and IAQ in residential and commercial buildings." A coalition of contractors, manufacturers, utilities, and industry associations has been collaborating to establish a set of nationally accepted definitions for "quality contractors" (QC) and "quality installations" (QI).

    "ACCA has been working the past 2.5 years on defining ‘quality contractor' and a ‘quality installation' for residential and commercial HVAC applications," said Isaac. "ACCA contractors are conscious of the frequent gaps that develop from ‘as designed' to ‘as built' and ‘as operated.'

    "ACCA is trying to help customers identify contractors who are committed to getting it right, and to help contractors differentiate quality service offerings. In this specification, ACCA is defining the ‘minimum bar' expectations of a properly installed HVAC system."

    ACCA is nearly complete with the document development of the installation specification and anticipates releasing the specification for public review at the beginning of next month.

    "There is a need to establish a raised bar - improve the core competencies of contractors to ensure that quality installations ensue," said Snyder. "This is beneficial not only as a process improvement for contracting businesses, but, more importantly, for fulfilling the needs of building owners and operators - comfortable, healthy, safe, and energy-efficient indoor environments. Today, across the broad spectrum of the industry, there is not a uniformly accepted definition of quality."

    ACCA said it wants to define those terms to help the contractor, as well as the consumer. Due to poor understanding by building owners/operators of the proposition that quality contractors and quality installations offer, ACCA said there is a consumer market for an unlicensed, poorly trained, or otherwise unqualified individual or business to install HVACR systems. Unlicensed, or unskilled, or unscrupulous, or non-caring contractors are inclined to cut corners and to offer prices and performance promises that are difficult for professional, qualified contractors to match, it said. According to the association, uninformed consumers are left to experience the inevitable inconveniences and expenses of a poorly designed and poorly functioning HVACR system.

    - Mark Skaer

    Sidebar: In the Running for Awards

    SAN JOSE, Calif. - ACCA has announced the finalists in the 2006 Contractor Excellence Awards. Winners in each category will be disclosed at the convention. Those in the running are:

    EXCELLENCE IN RESIDENTIAL CONTRACTING: Albemarle Heating & Air (Charlottesville, Va.); Castellano Air Conditioning and Heating (Tampa, Fla.); Great Dane Heating and Air Conditioning (Clinton Township, Mich.); and Peaden Air Conditioning (Panama City, Fla.).

    EXCELLENCE IN COMMERCIAL CONTRACTING: Engineering Excellence (Cincinnati); Tri-City Mechanical (Phoenix); and Shapiro & Duncan (Rockville, Md.).

    JEFF FORKER AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN TRAINING: Ferris State University (Big Rapids, Mich.); ACCA Texas (Austin, Texas); and Peaden Air Conditioning (Tampa, Fla.).

    SPIRIT OF GIVING AWARD: ACCA North Texas (Arlington, Texas); ACCA National Capital (Silver Spring, Md.); and ACCA Southeast Michigan (Livonia, Mich.).

    Publication date: 03/27/2006