The Unified Group
Attendees for The Unified Group's first Leadership Forum to be held in Nashville.

Forging a Path to Success: The Unified Group’s 2024 Leadership Forum

June 5, 2024
The Nashville Forum stressed the significance of leading through influence rather than power.

ROSEMONT, Illinois (May 2024) — The Unified Group’s inaugural Leadership Forum was well-attended by more than 35 members in seasoned leadership roles or who have been tapped as up-and-coming leaders within their companies. The conference took place May 5-8 at the Hyatt Centric Downtown Nashville. 

“The most important things I learned were that we lead people but manage things,” said Katie Cullum of Cullum Services, Inc. in North Charleston, SC. “There is a time and place for leading with power, but there is also a large need to lead with influence. We need to meet people on their level, direct conversations in a useful manner and understand that what motivates me is not always what motivates other people.”

Craig Woodall of Grinnell Leadership presented on the first day. Woodall brings over 25 years of experience leading teams, projects, organizations and individuals. With a background in engineering, project management, construction management and operations management, he brings a wealth of knowledge from the industry.

Be in the present. Be aware of your trust bank. Trust is all about character, competency and the art of letting go. Work-life balance is not possible, but work-life integration is, said Gary Myers of Intech Mechanical in Roseville, CA.

Stressing the significance of leading through influence rather than power, Woodall’s presentation introduced an engaging group activity — a scavenger hunt, where each team of six participants ventured around the town to locate a specific item assigned to them. The victorious team was awarded $100 to donate and make an impact on the most people possible. The objective of this exercise was to demonstrate the ability to influence community members to entrust their belongings temporarily, without resorting to bribery. Woodall underscored the importance of adapting our leadership approach to suit the individuals we lead and discerning how our actions are perceived. A crucial aspect of fostering trust is recognizing that authenticity cannot be achieved merely by fulfilling a requirement.

During the latter part of the first day, Radical Guidance Consulting President Randy Nemchin joined as the guest speaker. Nemchin’s presentation focused on various strategies for establishing and upholding alignment and accountability within teams. Assessing whether a team is aligned involves observing behaviors, adhering to core values and gauging feedback from customers regarding the company's performance. Do the values align with how a company wants to identify? Do the employees believe in the values? Without alignment, people will do what they want.

Nemchin also kicked off the second day of meetings with discussion on the concept of work-life integration. Work-life integration is the practice of allowing employees to coordinate their personal and professional lives in a way that is complementary and fulfilling to both sets of responsibilities. He introduced a self-assessment aimed at prompting reflection on motivations and identifying areas of improvement for a more balanced life. By setting personalized goals on where we invest our time and energy, we can achieve greater productivity, job satisfaction and employee engagement.

“Be in the present. Be aware of your trust bank. Trust is all about character, competency and the art of letting go. Work-life balance is not possible, but work-life integration is,” said Gary Myers of Intech Mechanical in Roseville, CA.

Rounding out the second day was another activity initiated by Woodall, designed to teach participants that face-to-face communication is best. Participants were asked to communicate with a partner via text, followed by a phone call, and were told to draw a photo based on their partner’s instructions. The result? Things often get lost in translation, underscoring the importance of thoughtful word choice before speaking and the practice of exercising patience.

On the final day, Rick Chowdry, President of Intech Mechanical, shared his journey of accidental success. Intech Mechanical's humble beginnings stemmed from Chowdry’s garage, later expanding to a small second shop, and eventually flourishing into a fully-functional HVAC mechanical contractor. Chowdry highlighted a significant challenge: assuming others would operate as he did. He emphasized the importance of follow-up and accountability, along with lessons learned from this experience.

The Leadership Forum was a prime occasion for industry leaders to exchange ideas, establish workflows and foster connections to help elevate their successes even further.

Upcoming forums include Financial, Construction and our Annual Meeting and Owners’ Forum! If you’re interested in learning more about attending a meeting or becoming a member of The Unified Group, contact Janet Kelleher at [email protected].

Formed in 1998, The Unified Group is an organization of the leading independent HVAC commercial contractors in the industry. The association helps strengthen its member businesses through a variety of training and resources and is dedicated to raising the standards of excellence in the HVACR industry. For more information, visit