NASHVILLE – ACCA opened its 2014 conference with a bang Monday, thrilling contractors with the opening MainStage session, featuring speaker Larry Winget.

Let me tell you, if you ever get the chance to hear Winget speak, do it. He is high energy, funny, and completely and totally logical. He has a knack for calling people out for being idiots, which is great. Although he was a bit brash (which is fine for me), his message was simple: Take responsibility for your own actions. The 45-minute speech was action-packed and had the crowd rolling.

ACCA president and CEO Paul Stalknecht and chairman Bobby Ring also spoke to the crowd. Stalknecht declared 2013 to be a successful year for contractors, while Ring wore a big black cowboy hat to the stage. Everyone made jokes about the massive size of the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center.

ACCA also debuted its Skip Snyder Humanitarian award, which was given to Jim Isaac, former president of Isaac Heating & Air Conditioning, Rochester, N.Y. Snyder, who died late last year, was known for his charitable efforts. His wife Laurel was in attendance and received a standing ovation following a video tribute to Snyder. It was an emotional moment for all who knew him.

Contractors also took in the IE3 Expo and a multitude of Learning Labs on Monday afternoon.

Matt Marsiglio of Flame Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Warren, Mich., presented an interesting topic about how to set up your technicians for success. One thing he said really struck me: Flame generally is only hiring new, fresh techs with no experience — and it’s working out for them. The reason is they don’t want techs coming in with bad habits. They prefer to train them from the ground-up, which makes for quite the pipeline. Exceptions can be made, obviously, but it seems Flame has found a way to install its own “farm system,” so to speak. Does anyone else out there do this?

All-in-all, it was a successful first day that has me thirsty for more.