A young whipper-snapper heating and air conditioning contractor once told me he didn’t need to network with other contractors. He believed his independent learning and pretty decent business knowledge was all he needed to succeed. The hundreds of contractors in attendance at the recent Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) “Optimize” conference would heartily disagree. Especially since this was one of the best ACCA meetings I’ve ever attended, in many ways.
Held in San Antonio, “Optimize” sessions included employee recruitment and retention, quality installation training, managing opioid addictions and legalized marijuana, reducing distracted driving, digital marketing techniques, and leadership training, and much more. This ACCA event was the outcome of considerable time and contributions by many of ACCA’s volunteer contractor members, in addition to ACCA’s qualified management and administrative teams.
“We made a lot of changes in 2018 but there’s a lot on the horizon,” said outgoing chairman Steve Schmidt, who announced the major points in ACCA’s new strategic plan.
“We got caught up doing other things. At the bottom line, we need to make our members more successful,” Schmidt said.
Goals of ACCA’s new strategic plan include increasing ACCA’s value to members, and member involvement in committees. It also wants to grow membership by 10 percent annually, with 90 percent annual member retention.
ACCA’s new president and CEO Bart James was the driving force behind finalizing the plan in time for the “Optimize” show. It involved three days of no-nonsense strategy sessions, intent on putting ACCA on a new path to prosperity, with greater value for all members. And all this while also finalizing plans for this event. It would not have happened without selfless volunteers seeking to give members the best learning event possible.
James told me a key difference in this strategic plan is that it will be the association’s major point of focus for years to come.
“It’s not that we didn’t have strategic plans in the past, but, like a lot of plans, it’s easy to put things on paper, that later you can’t remember. And you get busy, you lose focus, and someone comes up with another new idea. I’m a big believer in that you don’t add something to the list until you take something off the list. You’re mindful of the capacity that you have to work with,” he said.
The major points in ACCA’s new Strategic Plan are based on a survey of ACCA members: Purpose, Organizational Structure, Value to Members, Products and Services, Business Structure, Business Dashboards that focus on ACCA’s key performance indicators, an evaluation of the headquarters location in Washington, D.C., Legal Structure, Improved Partnering with affiliated organizations, Advocacy, Training, Strong National Network, and Giving Back to the industry.
James said ACCA will communicate with members better, including letting them view the association’s annual report. The 2018 report was printed inside the redesigned and retitled ACCA magazine, “ACCA NOW.” It replaces the previous publication, “IE3.”
“ACCA will be the uncontested leader in representing contractors. Without you, and without your amazing skills and dedication, this industry wouldn’t be what it is today,” said 2019-20 Chairman Erik Knaak. “We will be a leader when it comes to working with our corporate partners, who have made a commitment to you. We will be a leader when it comes to our sister associations, such as HARDI, AHRI, ASHRAE, PHCC our ACO partners and any other association that wants to work toward a common goal of supporting skilled trades people, distributors and manufacturers. We’re going to see collaboration among these organizations so that we can provide our members with the support that you need,” Knaak said.
Get Involved in ACCA. If you're not an ACCA member, check it out. It’s there for you, and for the growth and survival of your HVAC business.
Note: an earlier version of this editorial had incorrectly listed this event as appearing in Orlando.