From the Field

April 1, 2012
HVAC contractors looking for new ideas found them at Air Conditioning Contractors of America's (ACCA's), 44th Annual Conference and Indoor Air Expo in Las Vegas, NV, March 5- 8

ACCA Conference Covers Many HVAC Business Topics

HVAC contractors looking for new ideas found them at Air Conditioning Contractors of America's (ACCA's), 44th Annual Conference and Indoor Air Expo in Las Vegas, NV, March 5- 8.

Attendees visited a variety of general sessions, which were presented in 45- and 90-minute segments, along with focused learning labs.

In a sharing event called, "I've Got an Idea," contractors offered a variety of ideas to help improve profitability and efficency. Additionally, a CEO/contractor panel discussion gave contractors an opportunity to hear from the leaders of top manufacturing companies in the industry.

Among the topics discussed at this year's forum were R-22 price inreases; R-22 dry charge units; and regional standards.

Laura DiFilippo: 'We are all ACCA'
During the annual chairman’s banquet, outgoing chairman Joe Nichter, Comfort Systems USA, thanked his officers and ACCA staff, and encouraged members to continue the hard-fought battle he waged during his tenure.

Laura DiFilippo, DiFilippo Service Company, Paoli, PA, was installed as the new chairman of the ACCA board of directors. She is the first woman from the ACCA ranks to fill that role.

"I'm so excited to have been asked to serve this outstanding industry as chairman of ACCA. I'm very humbled to have been chosen, and very honored to accept," she said.

"We're all contractors, and we're all ACCA. ACCA stands for all contractors, of all kinds, in every community. Our membership runs across the board, and we think every contractor is valuable. Every contractor deserves a shot at success, however that contractor defines it," Difilippo said.

Nichter and DiFilippo encouraged members to get involved by serving on a committee.

ACCA officers for 2012-13 are:

  • Senior vice chairman: Bobby Ring, Meyer & DePew Co., Inc.
  • Secretary/treasurer: Dave Kyle, Trademasters Service Corp.
  • Vice chairmen: Rich Imfeld, IC Refrigeration; Don Langston, Aire Rite Air Conditioning; and Phil London, Thermal Concepts, Inc.

To join a committee, email Laura Difilippo, at [email protected].

Those honored for their work and dedication to ACCA include:

  • Spirit of Independence Award: Stan Johnson, Stan’s Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc.
  • Spirit of Federation Award: Bob McAllister, McAllister, The Service Company Fred Hutchinson, Hutchinson Plumbing Heating Cooling

The following awards were presented to ACCA members:

  • Residential Contractor of the Year: AirRite Air-Conditioning Company (AirRite was the 2004 Contracting Residential HVAC Contractor of the Year)
  • Commercial Contractor of the Year: K & M Shillingford
  • Distinguished Service Award: Warren Lupson, Air Conditioning Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI).

The event's Indoor Air Expo —co-sponsored by the Indoor Air Quality Association (IAQA) — showcased more than 200 companies.

James A. Wheat & Sons Named NCI Contractor of the Year

James A. Wheat & Sons, Gaithersberg, MD, was named Contractor of the Year by the National Comfort Institute (NCI) at the NCI 2012 Annual Conference in Palm Harbor, FL. The NCI Contractor of the Year award recognizes home services companies for exceptional achievement in performance-based contracting, quality workmanship, and dedication to customer service.

James A. Wheat & Sons has been providing HVAC service in Maryland and Washington, DC for two generations. The company strives to ensure that their plumbing, heating, and air conditioning services exceed customer expectations.

“We’re tremendously honored to receive this award,” says Michael Wheat, president. “We take great pride in our commitment to our staff, and that’s reflected in our customer service. Being a family-owned and operated company, it feels great to have our hard work recognized in such a prestigious way.”

James A. Wheat & Sons provides its employees with opportunities for continuing education on the latest home and building comfort and safety practices from organizations such as National Comfort Institute.

NCI-certified contractors have attended classes, used specialized equipment, and remain up-to-date on the latest diagnostic and repair techniques in their fields. NCI certified technicians have passed a recognized testing process which validates his or her understanding of the technology and procedures used in the field. NCI monitors their certified contractors, and requires recertification every two years.
national comfort

Nation’s Largest Geothermal Project Enters Final Phase

Ball State University has taken its campus comfort system from the smokestack era into modern times, with the largest ground-source geothermal project of its kind in the U.S.

Contractors and engineers working for Ball State are into the second, and final phase of the project, which began in 2009, with the replacement of coal-fired boilers. Today, a new geothermal system provides heating and cooling to nearly half the campus. When complete, the university’s carbon footprint will be reduced by nearly half, and the university will save $2 million a year in operating costs, according to sources at Ball State.

Ball State is installing a vertical, closed-loop district system that uses only fresh water. The system will have 3,600 boreholes when complete.

The chilling plant’s five York CYK chillers provide air conditioning and dehumidification for more than 3,000,000 sq.ft. of facilities. The Chill plant can produce approximately 2,400,000 tons of cooling during peak time periods.

Page 2 of 2

Why geothermal? For Ball State officials, it was about dollars and cents.

“When costs began to escalate for the installation of a new fossil fuel burning boiler, the university began to evaluate other renewable energy options,” says Jim Lowe, director of engineering, construction,and operations. “This led to the decision to convert the campus to a more efficient geothermal-based heating and cooling system.”

Due to delays in obtaining full funding, the project has been installed in sections.

“One of the major challenges was discovering a way to design and install the systems in ‘parts,’ and be packaged in a way that could be bid and completed simultaneously,” Lowe says.

MEP Associates, Rochester, MN was selected for the design engineering phase of the project.

“We were looking for a firm that had a history of designing geothermal/ground source, vertical/closed loop, and who understood the geothermal components. All roads led back to MEP,” Lowe says.

Greiner Brothers Mechanical, Indianapolis, IN, was selected to install the chillers and tie them into the geothermal loops.

“The piping, especially in the mechanical room, isn’t much different than a regular steam heating or chilled water system. The heating and cooling sources were the major difference, but we didn’t have any trouble with it,” recalls Greiner Project Manager, Matt Thuer. However, when building out the mechanical room, Thuer says the room’s small space posed a challenge.

“The building footprint was very small. We used our QuickPipe 3D CAD/BIM program to get it drawn out exactly the way it would fit in the building. We didn’t have any room for error,” Thuer says.

As Lowe and his technicians phaseout the old and phase in the new system, they’ve become adept at juggling the systems’ temporary, diverse operational characteristics.

“We’re telling two plants how to operate. We’re learning and achieving what we need to,” says Lowe.

Read more about the engineering of this project at

At Morelli’s HVAC, the Philosophy is Simple: ‘Treat ‘em Right’

Every HVAC company’s mission statement could, in reality, be as simple as this: “Treat the customer right, and give them what they want.”

For Tony Morelli, president, Morelli Heating and Air Conditioning, Charleston, SC, the success formula has indeed been that short and sweet.

Known throughout Charleston as “The Problem Solvers,” the Morelli company tries hard not to complicate anything. It works, because the company behind that philosophy has unraveled and mastered the “complexities” of service that some other companies might find bewildering.

Tony Morelli and his parents — James, and Joyce, started Morelli Heating and Air Conditioning in 1981. Father and son had worked together at another company — Charleston Oil Company — servicing and installing oil furnaces. When the time came to make a change, the family unit survived and prospered.

Morelli’s services include service, installation, and comfort consulting for residential and commercial customers. Their residential/commercial sales ratio is 35% residential/65% commercial.

With Tony’s brother Andrew, vice president of commercial construction, Morelli’s has mastered just about every application, including geothermal, variable air volume (VAV), chilled water, and a growing number of variable refrigerant flow (VRF) systems.

“We had three large VRF jobs last year; a church complex and two schools,” Morelli says. “We’ve installed LG, Daikin, and Mitsubishi City Multi.”

When he decided to add commercial services, Morelli had a one-stop shop solution, bolstered by the company’s technical expertise.

“We gave commercial customers the same high level of customer service as we were giving our residential customers,” he says. “They were so used to low bids, and fighting throughout the job. We told them that with us, they wouldn’t have to worry about a thing. As a result, we’ve built up a good reputation with a niche of general contractors who give us their negotiated work and Design/Build work. We do what we say we’re going to do.”

Morelli’s finds customers in an uncomplicated fashion, too: through referrals, some TV, and a lot of print advertising.

“When we first started, we had a solid base of customers who were with the company my father was with previously. We’re now on our third generation of customers from those original clients, he explains.

The Morelli company has been well-recognized for its commitment to excellence. It was the first Carrier Authorized Factory Dealer in South Carolina, and Carrier’s Dealer of the Year in the state in 2006.

A progression into social media has been guided by Tony’s daughter, Mary Morelli. The company’s social media platform includes Twitter, Facebook, and an inventive pair of newsletters: The Morelli HVAC Weekly, and The Morelli HVAC Daily, electronic newsletters with information on construction, energy, entertainment, and a collection of worldwide news articles.

Morelli designed the newsletters to give the company’s 1,000 Twitter followers something extra from which to learn and be entertained.

“I majored in digital media in colllege, and here I’m incorporating everything I’ve learned. We’re trying to win a younger generation of customer,” she says. — Terry McIver

1992: You provide training in customer service, right? It’s so important that we were preaching it back in 1992, with an article by Robert Coates of Success Sciences, Inc. “Everyone in your organization needs customer service training. Everyone needs to know who your customer are, and what they expect from your company,” Coates wrote. Today’s customer service professional must also be prepared to deal with a vast array of personality and styles, meeting some needs while tactfully redirecting others. Coates wrote that technology adds to the challenge, as products become more sophisticated and complex, and a higher level of understanding is required to serve people effectively.

Dwyer Instruments has released the Dwyer HVAC Mobile App, an air velocity and flow calculator. The app converts velocity pressure to air velocity, or air velocity to air volume. Converting velocity pressure to air volume is advantageous for effortlessly changing the pressure on your Magnehelic or manometer to velocity. The calculator includes air density factors from humidity levels. The air velocity to air volume function converts air velocity to air flow rates from duct dimensions. Web version:

About the Author

Terry McIver | Content Director - CB

A career publishing professional, Terence 'Terry' McIver has served three diverse industry publications in varying degrees of responsibility since 1987, and worked in marketing communications for a major U.S. corporation.He joined the staff of Contracting Business magazine in April 2005.

As director of content for Contracting Business, he produces daily content and feature articles for CB's 38,000 print subscribers and many more Internet visitors. He has written hundreds, if not two or three, pieces of news, features and contractor profile articles for CB's audience of quality HVACR contractors. He can also be found covering HVACR industry events or visiting with manufacturers and contractors. He also has significant experience in trade show planning.