MAUI, Hawaii - While parts of the Hawaiian Islands were being drenched with rains and tormented by mudslides, several thousand mechanical contractors flocked to the mostly sun-drenched beaches of Wailea. Evidently, Lono, the Hawaiian lord of the sun and wisdom was watching over as the Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA) held its 117th annual convention. The first day of the convention was hampered by steady rains, but the rest of the event saw a mixture of fun in the sun and half-day business meetings.

Stanley Berger, 2005 chairman of the MCAA and CEO of Arista Air Conditioning Corp., Long Island City, N.Y., opened the annual convention with a report on insights he had gained while representing MCAA during the year. "Everything in this association starts with education. Education is the key element that allows our contractor members to expand in a rapidly changing HVAC marketplace," said Berger.

Berger also told the group about the association's accomplishments in the prior year, but came back several times to the strength of MCAA's education and training strategy. He told the audience that from the association's student programs to the pinnacle of attainment for a contractor - the Advanced Leadership Forum - "MCAA is a vibrant and strong membership."

Carolyn Lundberg and her father Marvin Kalisch of Kalisch-Jarcho Inc., Elmhurst, N.Y., talk with Dr. John Stoessinger (seated) after his MCAA session entitled “Tyranny vs. Democracy.” An acknowledged expert on history and diplomacy, Stoessinger worked with three presidential administrations in various advisory capacities.


One student in attendance, Anne Arant, certainly received more than she bargained for at the convention.

Not only did the senior student from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) get to go to Maui and spend a few warm and refreshing days at the beautiful Grand Wailea Resort, she got the attention of former Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann, a keynote speaker at the Wednesday morning Awards of Excellence Breakfast.

And, this took place in front of a packed and spacious Haleakala Ballroom, before thousands of MCAA members and their families. There was nowhere to hide, either.

"I think she just stood up there and basked in the glory," mused Tim Wentz, the faculty advisor for UNL's Mechanical Electrical Specialty Contractors (MESC) Student Chapter.

Arant was praised up and down by Theismann for showing emotion after UNL was announced as the 2005-06 winner of the association's student chapter competition. Apparently, the lone female on the six-member winning squad shed a few tears of joy up on stage when the UNL team went up to accept the first-place trophy and the $5,000 purse that went with it.

Theismann, who spoke to convention attendees right after the awards ceremony, obviously spotted Arant's emotion - and then made sure everyone present recognized it.

"I want to congratulate the award winners. It's nice to see the University of Nebraska and Purdue University win something. And I mean that from the bottom of my heart," mused the Notre Dame graduate, which drew a few laughs from the crowd. (In addition to UNL receiving its award, Purdue's student chapter was honored as 2005 MCAA Student Chapter of the Year.)

The man who threw 160 touchdowns during his National Football League (NFL) career then surprised Arant by asking her to come up to the stage.

"When she won the award, she started crying. She got all emotional," said Theismann, holding the graduating senior's hand. "I have to tell you, when you, as an association, give these young men and these young women an opportunity to learn, to be able to share the experiences with you, this is wonderful. But, the fact that she cared so much, is what impressed me."

Arant received a standing ovation before she sheepishly walked out of the spotlight to sit back down at the table with her fellow teammates, junior Brad Claussen, senior Benjamin Johnson, senior Brandon Limoges, junior Patrick Rainbolt, and freshman John Tinius.

Donald W. Batz became the first service contractor to receive MCAA's Distinguished Service Award during the Awards of Excellence breakfast on March 20. The award, MCAA's highest form of recognition, is given as a permanent testimonial to those who have displayed extraordinary dedication and service to the progress, development, and expansion of MCAA and the mechanical construction industry. MCAA 2005 President Stanley Berger honored Batz saying, "He and I have worked closely together over many years, first as members, and then chairmen, of the board of managers of MSCA [the Mechanical Service Contractors of America] and then as members of MCAA's board of directors. He is a delight to work with - full of ideas, diligent in carrying them out and generous in his praise of others ... it's his expansive spirit that really marks the man."

Berger then read from the certificate, saying "As a permanent testimony to his significant and valued contributions to the mechanical contracting and service industry and to his association, at both the local and national levels, the Mechanical Contractors Association of America presents its Distinguished Service Award for the year 2005 to Donald W. Batz.


The presidential gavel was passed from 2005 President Stanley H. Berger to Michael Cullinane, the new MCAA president during the convention's closing session on March 23.

Cullinane is president/comptroller of Bert C. Young & Sons Corp., located in Bellwood, Ill.

Appointed to the board of directors in 2000, Cullinane is active in the association on both the national and local level. At the national level, he serves on the Executive Committee and the board of directors. He is a past chairman of the Investment Advisory Committee and the Industry Improvement Funds Committee. In addition, he served on the Advanced Leadership Institute Committee and the Association Executives Council Marketing Committee.

At the local level, he is a past president of the MCA of Chicago, where he also serves on the Apprentice and Government Affairs committees. In addition, he is a trustee for the Piping Education Council and Pipefitters Local 597's 401(k) plan and is past president of the Chicagoland Better Heating & Cooling Council.


Stanley Berger introduced comic genius John Cleese to the audience on the first day of the convention and gathered quite a few laughs of his own when his noted Brooklyn accent changed one of Cleese's movie credits, "A Fish Named Wanda" to A Fish Named Wandar. Cleese also of "Monty Python" fame kept the crowd chuckling while mixing a bit of satirical humor with some lessons on teamwork.

"A team of good people will always weed out each other's mistakes," said Cleese.

Dr. John Stoessinger, a strong influence with several presidential administrations, presented three sessions during the course of the six-day convention. Each time he packed the room. Attendees usually came out of the rooms fervently disliking or liking what they had heard.

His views on the Iraqi war and the current administration composed much of his topic material for all the sessions.

Other speakers and guests at the convention included Tom Ridge, former U. S. Secretary of Homeland Security; Bill Hite, United Association general president; musician Kenny Loggins; and acclaimed actress Jane Seymour.

MCAA serves the unique needs of more than 2,300 firms involved in heating, air conditioning, refrigeration, plumbing, piping, and mechanical service. For more information, go to

Sidebar: Student Winners

The winners of the 2005-06 MCAA student chapter competition are:


  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Mechanical Electrical Specialty Contractors (MESC) Student Chapter - Anne Arant, Brad Claussen, Benjamin Johnson, Brandon Limoges, Patrick Rainbolt, and John Tinius.


  • MCAA Student Chapter at the Milwaukee School of Engineering - Rose Adelmeyer, Nicholas Holtger, Matthew Nysse, Kathryn Oakes, Matthew Tadisch, and Bradley White.


  • Northern California Mechanical Contractors Student Chapter at California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo - Patrick Clifford, Daniel Loper, David Lopez, Mya Krikorian, Matt Marcotte, and Kraig O'Connor.

  • MCA of Indiana Student Chapter at Purdue University - Christopher Durnil, Geoffrey Lewis, Jeffrey Miller, and Aaron Wagoner.

    Publication date: 04/17/2006