Fighting the Good Fight

Many thanks for covering our ACCA national convention presentation on being proactive in state politics [“Being Politically Involved Is Important at State Level,” March 26].

But I need to make one small correction. Our association is the Northern Illinois Chapter of ACCA (NIACCA), not ILACCA. We, unfortunately, do not currently have enough members for a state chapter.

Does Illinois need a state chapter? You bet we do. We are currently fighting an expensive battle to uphold the needed restrictions in joint marketing between the gas utilities and their affiliated companies. If we lose, we will suffer the same losses of market share and, ultimately, livelihoods that independent contractors and HVAC suppliers in other states have suffered.

I have two requests to make to your readers. The first is to all contractors and suppliers who have firsthand experience in competing with unrestricted gas utilities. Would you kindly take the time to tell all of us what happened to your business? Did it flourish? Were you able to successfully ignore the gas utility? What would you do different today, knowing what you now know?

My second request is for Illinois contractors and suppliers. NIACCA needs your support. I always thought that if we won the battles, we would gain support. We have won significant battles and have gained significant ground. Even so, the donations have dried up. Our biggest battle is ahead of us and we do not have the funds to fight it. This is not an exaggeration! We have hit a wall of apathy. How do we combat that?

I am open for suggestions and donations from all that see this as a threat to the very survival of the hvac industry in our state.

Chris Colditz

Treasurer of LACO Mechanical Services

President of Northern Illinois Chapter of ACCA

Head Pressure Conundrum

In your April 2 article “Coping with Capillary Tube Blockage” by John Kuca, he states that a blockage will cause the head pressure to increase. I disagree with this statement. A blockage will not cause high head pressure in a properly charged system.

The head pressure will actually be lower than normal because the compressor has nothing to pump. I have seen this happen more times than I can count. Try it on a refrigeration simulator sometime, just to see the results. I was taught this 30 years ago by my refrigeration instructor and have remembered and proven it many times since.

Patrick McAlister

Neely & McAlister Commercial Refrigeration

Pine Bluff, AR

Packing Them in at Association Meetings

I just read Ed Blum’s letter [“Large Contractors Not Attending Meetings,” April 23] regarding the large contractors not attending meetings. I sold my company to Comfort Systems USA and am still very active in CSUSA corporate sales. While Ed is correct that the tremendous information flow within the consolidated company does impact attendance, there are more significant reasons.

As a corporation, Comfort Systems USA has supported ACCA with membership and participation on various committees.

I attended this past convention in Las Vegas and was disappointed in the lack of focus on commercial companies. Since the convention, I have volunteered to speak on subjects that relate to commercial contractors. ACCA board members received feedback suggesting topics that will draw commercial contractors.

This may or may not bring all the larger contractors back, but we must remember that consolidators and utilities must live in harmony with the independent contractor. No single company has a footprint that can serve every community.

Part of my job is to identify partnering opportunities. It serves CSUSA to find those independent contractors that are looking to improve their technical and business skills. ACCA is an avenue. It serves CSUSA to mentor the independent contractor in those areas where we do not have a presence.

This past year, the consolidators concentrated on educating the management teams in leadership and business skills. Time for industry involvement definitely suffered but not abandoned.

Tri-City (a CSUSA company) was recognized by ACCA as the most desirable employer. Our safety record is well below national averages. We’ve taken what we’ve learned from experience and ACCA and optimized the performance.

I still qualify my Florida company as a mechanical contractor so the continuing education credits are essential. I can give up weekends to earn the credits, or I can spend a couple of days with my peers, earn the credits, and keep in touch with the industry challenges. I do bring that knowledge back to this consolidator and use it to build on and get stronger. Can anybody not afford to stay in tune?

I would ask that Ed reconsider looking for other options and join me and others like me that believe this industry has been divided long enough and is big enough for consolidators, utilities, and independents.

Ken Bodwell

Sales Manager

National Service Group

Comfort Systems USA

Orlando, FL

Publication date: 05/14/2001