The Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) wrapped up what it called its most successful annual conference ever in February. The 2004 ACCA Conference & Indoor Air Expo attracted 1,500 people to New Orleans February 25-28. This year's conference featured the largest number of educational workshops ever offered by ACCA, with classes in five distinct training tracks: residential contracting, commercial contracting, marketing and management, legal issues, and contractor best practices. Attendees at the opening session heard ACCA President and CEO Paul Stalknecht look back on 2003, the first complete year under the federated structure. "Working together, we made it happen,” Stalknecht said. “We are now one ACCA. As one ACCA, we're able to speak with one voice...and because we are you - we are your organization, the association of contractors - we now have a very loud voice." John Saucier, 2003-2004 ACCA chairman, noted that, for the first time in its history, ACCA now has contractor members in all 50 states. Saucier also reported that, in 2003, ACCA signed up six new local chapters, and started three new state associations - in Indiana, Oklahoma, and Florida. Additionally, student chapters were formed at Ferris State University and Vatterott College, joining the original ACCA student chapter at the Pennsylvania College of Technology. "Today we stand here - at the largest conference in our association's history - as full partners with our chapters and their leaders at all levels of the organization," Saucier said. Other highlights from the conference: • Skip Snyder, president of the Snyder Company, Upper Darby, PA, was introduced as the 2004-2005 chairman. The Snyder Company is a parent company overseeing commercial and industrial boiler installations and product distribution and wholesale. Snyder promised to focus on the opportunities afforded to contractors by MIX Groups, and introduced a new concept – the ACCA Mentor Program - which will pair new contractors with experienced non-competing contractors for one-on-one mentoring and discussion. In addition, Snyder, a former chairman of North American Technician Excellence (NATE), encouraged contractors to get their technicians NATE certified. • Pat Lupson, executive director of the ACCA National Capital Chapter for more than 23 years, was honored with the 2004 Spirit of Federation award. The Spirit of Federation award is presented each year to a chapter president or executive who demonstrates outstanding leadership and dedication to the ACCA Federation. • J & J Air Conditioning, San Jose, CA, was presented with the association’s 2004 Award for Excellence in Commercial Contracting. J & J opened its doors in 1978 with only two service technicians offering basic HVAC maintenance and repair. Today, it is one of the larger HVAC service companies in the Silicon Valley area with over 45 employees and gross sales exceeding $7 million. The company provides industrial and commercial customers with services that range from preventative maintenance to the design and installation of custom systems. • A J Warren Service Company of Houston, TX, won ACCA’s 2004 Award for Excellence in Residential Contracting for revenues under $1 million. In its 31 years in business, A J Warren has established a reputation for quality and value. The company’s focus on the residential replacement market is to upgrade systems to the highest possible SEER rated equipment, coupled with zoning to attain the maximum comfort level for their customers. • Air Assurance Company of Broken Arrow, OK won the 2004 Award for Excellence in Residential Contracting for revenues of $1 million and up. Air Assurance credits their growth and success to exceptional service and customer satisfaction.Air Assurance maintains a high level of on-going technical training, and boasts 100% NATE-certified technicians. • Atlas Butler, Columbus, OH, won the association's 2004 Jeff Forker Award for Excellence in Training. Named for the late Contracting Business publisher, the award recognizes companies that have gone above and beyond the industry norms to ensure technicians are properly trained. The firm's president, Mark Swepston, says dedication to his team's continual personal improvement led him to invest in constructing a 2,000 sq.ft. on-site training facility. The training center is equipped with state-of-the-art audiovisual technology and hands-on education tools. Atlas Butler has a guaranteed minimum of 40 hours of paid job enhancement training per associate, gives college tuition reimbursement for job-related college courses, and offers EPA training testing and NATE refresher courses and on-site testing. • Jack Sinkler, vice president of marketing for Rheem Manufacturing Air Conditioning Division, announced that Rheem will fund full national, state and local ACCA dues for qualifying contractors in their Rheem Team and Ruud Reliable "top contractor" groups. The 2005 ACCA Conference & Indoor Air Expo will be held March 9-12, 2005, at the Renaissance in Austin, TX. For more information, visit www.acca.org.