“The Larry and Paul Show” — or, should I say, “The Paul and Larry Show”? — may have already come to your town and/or local chapter meeting of the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA). The two — Larry Taylor, current ACCA president, and Paul Stalknecht, executive vice president and ceo of ACCA — stopped byNewsheadquarters recently to informNewseditors of their vision for ACCA and to explain what’s going on — both internally and externally — with the contractor association.

If the two have not made it to your neck of the woods, sit tight. They will. Both are determined to meet and greet every ACCA chapter (both local and state), every member, and every potential member in their own backyard. Both want to bring more contractors into the ACCA fold. Both are willing to cover tons of territory in the hopes of…well, let’s not beat around the bush…reviving interest in and support for the organization, which has deep industry roots.

There’s no denying the two are trying — in conjunction with a leaner, meaner, reorganized national staff. And based on what the duo discussed while at The News’ roundtable, there’s no denying the fact that there is a game plan in place — a game plan masterminded by Stalknecht.

Vision is There

Stalknecht has a vision and he’s sticking to it. That’s not to say the former American Truck-ing Associations executive is a dictator. Far from it. From his very first day on the job, Stalknecht has been acting more like a sponge: soaking it all in. At ACCA’s national convention, for instance, he gathered all state and local chapter leaders present, sat down with the bunch, and listened to their gripes, worries, and concerns.

“I want to position ACCA for the long run,” Stalknecht said at the national convention — and repeated the same sentiments during his visit to The News. “We [leadership] will be visible. Members’ voices will be heard. I want to hear from everyone and learn their thoughts.”

Give ACCA credit. It did hire a leader who was able to unify another industry, the trucking industry. As 2000 ACCA president Tony Shaker is quick to point out, Stalknecht is a “seasoned trade association executive with more than 25 years management experience on the state and local levels. I look forward to his contributions to both our association and the hvacr contracting community.”

So do ACCA members.

This leads to Stalknecht’s biggest challenge: his task of moving all chapters into a united, federated structure. If you were unaware of this move, this means every ACCA member will not have an option of joining — or not joining — the national ACCA organization. It’s now cut and dried. You must be a member of the national organization. Case closed. The measure took effect at this year’s national convention and is to stretch over the next two years for full implementation.

He has the blessings of ACCA’s board of directors, but he knows bringing everyone aboard is not going to be the easiest thing to do.

“This will cause some initial pain,” he agreed.

Taylor pointed out, though, that one does need a solid foundation first before one can construct a solid home.

“It’s the right thing to do,” summarized Taylor.

Stalknecht, of course, is in agreement.

“We’re going to try to make this as clean as possible,” he emphasized, knowing full well that improvements are going to have to happen at the national level in order for everyone to buy into the united, federated structure.

Bet on things to change with Stalknecht at the helm.

In fact, he already has implemented some changes at the national level, reorganizing the internal staffing responsibilities to improve service to its membership. The new Federation Relations Department, which is headed by Jeanne Cooper, will implement the new chapter restructuring initiatives and develop programs and services to better serve chapters.

This reorganization demonstrates a “reenergized and refocused ACCA,” said Stalknecht. “In order to deliver first-class services to members and keep ACCA positioned in the industry, we must have a structure that allows staff to operate at top-level capacity. That structure is now in place to move ACCA forward.”

With Stalknecht in the background and foreground, expect more positive news to come out of the new offices of ACCA in the not-so-distant future.

Skaer is editor-in-chief. He can be reached at 248-244-6446, 248-362-0317 (fax); skaerm@bnp.com (e-mail).

Publication date:06/04/2001