ARLINGTON, Va. - The Air Conditioning Contractors of America's (ACCA's) MIX Group® (Management Information eXchange) program brings together small groups of non-competing contractors who act as unofficial "boards of directors" for each other, providing assistance, guidance, and mutual support. Throughout the month of November, ACCA is highlighting the MIX Group program to its members via "MIXapalooza!"

"MIXapalooza!" will showcase the ways these peer groups have made a difference for contractors in the association's online and print publications, to encourage more contractors to form new groups with ACCA's assistance.

"My father joined one of the earliest MIX Groups back in 1976," said Eric Bindner of Climate Engineering in Colorado. "That group is still active today and I have replaced my father as our company's member of the group. Just during my tenure in the group I have seen at least four member contractors benefit directly from our emergency process, which in turn helped them go from near disaster to financial health. Those members have said many times that without the MIX Group, they probably would not have survived."

According to ACCA, MIX Groups are usually made up of no more than 10 contractors, controlled and managed by their own members. In most cases, the groups will meet a few times a year, visiting member locations and offering detailed reviews of each other's operations. These are "no-holds-barred" sessions, which is why only non-competing contractors can participate in a group. Often, MIX Group members will review financial statements, interview employees, and provide candid advice to the contractor in question.

"We've grown tremendously and, most important, profitably over the past five years and I can honestly say that our participation in a MIX group is one of the key reasons," said Robert Wilkos, business leader at Peaden Air Conditioning in Florida. "There is nothing like having 10 other business owners a phone call away to quickly cut to the chase and make decisions mixing their experiences, successes, and mistakes with our own. When we encounter a new bridge to cross, I can bounce my thoughts off of them in advance and form a pretty good idea of what we might find on the other end. Who wouldn't want 10 additional bright minds on their staff at minimal expense?"

Hilary Atkins manages the MIX Group process at ACCA headquarters, helping contractors find similar non-competing businesses to join together. "Forming a new group is not an easy process," she said, "but it's so worthwhile. Over the last year, we've formed four new groups that have gotten off the ground. It depends completely on a solid commitment from the participating contractors, but there are hundreds of contractors who will tell you the rewards are great."

ACCA is seeking more member contractors, both commercial and residential and of all sizes, to add to the pool of contractors interested in MIX Group membership. For more information, contact Atkins at 703-824-8855 or, or complete the MIX Group profile sheet at

Publication date: 11/03/2003