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    EGIA Hosts an EPIC Event

    March 30, 2023
    Electric and Gas Industries Association brought some extra heat to Las Vegas, generated by exciting presenters, hot topics and contractors wanting to be more successful in the HVAC industry.

    Not that the city needs the help, but the EGIA Contractor University's EPIC2023 Conference added a jackpot of excitement to Las Vegas, with a show at Caesar's Palace that brought heating and air conditioning contractors together for the major learning and networking event, March 15-17. EPIC stands for "Educating Professionals in Contracting," and the event did just that.  

    Contractor attendance was just shy of 1,000 – an impressive number in today’s very competitive show arena. Exhibitors and significant others added to the body count, and for a trade show, it’s always “the more, the merrier.”

    Scott Deming served as emcee of EPIC2023.Terry McIverThe Electric and Gas Industries Association reported receiving “incredibly positive” reviews from exhibitors and contractors in the early days after the show that was sponsored in part by Daikin, Goodman, Amana, Trane, American Standard, GreenSky and Optimus.

    Of the 20 presenters, John Maxwell was voted best presenter, followed by Mark Matteson, ex-NFL quarterback Steve Young, Russ Horrocks and Gary Elekes. Breakout session presenters also received positive ratings, including Matthew Bratsis, Drew Cameron, Kelsi Cooper, Jesse Davis, Scott Deming, Erin Fuchs, Talbot Gee, Eric Gude, Paul Kelly, James Leichter, Weldon Long, Steve Shallenberger,  Zenon Olbrys. Sixty-three exhibitors brought news about products and services to a conveniently located exhibit space.

    “This conference was AMAZING! Best in the industry by far. I could listen to John Maxwell all day. Loved how you created a breakout path this year with color guided options. Made a great guide while allowing attendees flexibility. I’ll definitely be back next year,” said Sandra Waddle, Mason Pro Services.

    “Every session I attended was super awesome. Lots of takeaways. Best overall conference I’ve been to and I’ve been to many in my 30 years,” wrote Deanna Mason, also with Mason Pro Services.

    “The keynote speakers you obtain are so above expectations. Great job," commented Matt Bunker with Any Hour Service.

    This year's event included a charitable golf tournament at Angel Park Golf Club to benefit the EGIA Foundation and Women in HVACR. 

    Educational sessions had three, 90-minute slots devoted to essential business development topics -- Leadership, Comfort Advisors & Sales Professionals, Technicians and Business Growth/Payment Solutions.

    “We wanted to make EPIC more of a draw for everyone in a contracting company,” said Lucas Ehrbar, director of communications. "Plus, all breakout sessions are professionally filmed and recorded and added to MyContractor University.com; so, while any one person can only see three total presentations in a track, they can get access to all 12 if they’re a member or sign up for a free trial. We’ve gotten a lot of great feedback around this, so while we’re still planning out next year, I’d expect this concept will remain,” Ehrbar said.

    Jillian Michaels Gets Physical

    Fitness pioneer Jillian Michaels presented her message to attendees with the passion and energy you’d expect from one of America’s leading personal trainers. This was a no-nonsense presentation, as Michaels stressed the effort and passion required to succeed in business, in the same way someone succeeds in physical fitness.

    “Without passion, work feels punishing. Being successful takes work and sacrifice. Life can feel punishing enough,” Michaels said.” Work must be a labor of love and that comes when you identify why you’re in business. The “how” is the work and sacrifice associated with your success.

    “This transcends into every facet of your life: great relationships, great health and a healthy career."

    “What is the ‘why’ that’s going to make you do all of this work, and turn it into a labor of love?" Michaels asked. "For me, this required thinking big, which is why I believe I was chosen to speak to you first. I’m a forward-facing brand name. Everybody knows Jillian Michaels. I do lunges for a living. How did it happen? By thinking big. You have to think big. Don’t say ‘all I want is a little house and a comfortable life.'  Shoot for a different solar system, and land somewhere out there in ours. Aim big, and where you land will be awesome. How big can you go in your industry? First, find where the money is. Give yourself a timeframe and break that down into what needs to happen each year, month, week, and day. I’m telling you that you need to think as big as you possibly can. Shoot for the stars and land on the moon."

    The ‘Magic’ of Simplicity

    Paul Kelly, a 30-year veteran entrepreneur, bought Parker & Sons when it was a $7 million company, and has grown its annual revenue to more than $200 million.

    Kelly, the author of TRICKS of the Trade to SUCCESS – The Magic of Creating Your TA- DAAAH! In Business and In Life, could not have been more emphatic on the importance of keeping your HVAC business SIMPLE.

    “That’s the basis of my book and of our business at Parker & Sons. Everything we do at Parker & Sons is about simplicity, because simplicity is repeatable, teachable, learnable and easy to implement,” Kelly said.

    One example: “The magic of making money is increased revenue and decreasing costs. That’s all there is. And to me, the cost side is 25 percent of the answer. Fixed costs occur no matter what your volume is. You can’t change those too much. You can’t save a lot of money on the variable side. But you can shed customers with low margins, or who don’t pay you in a timely fashion.

    “Labor’s only going to go up. It’s staying ahead of it that’s the hard part. You can control your over time during the slow months. You can get people on a commission system where you’re locking in your labor as a percent of revenue. You negotiate better deals with vendors. You  become better at marketing. You can raise your prices. But when you raise your prices, you better accompany it with a lot of training,” Kelly continued. His advice made for a very valuable presentation.

    Kelly said the biggest mistake contractors make is not charging enough. Some are charging the same amount as they did years and years ago. “A price increase is the easiest thing you can do, but make sure you do the training you need to increase job count, via marketing and your call center, referrals and maintenance agreements,” he advised, and provided many more tips in his 90-minutes of magic.

    Maxwell’s Silver Hammer: CONNECT!

    Legendary business author and presenter John C. Maxwell was a true crowd-pleaser, with a relaxed demeanor, and words of wisdom mined from decades of successful books and consultations.

    “When I decided to write books, I asked myself, ‘What can I write about that will always help people? What do people need?’ I came to the conclusion that I would write and speak about five subjects to help people be successful:

    “Communication: cast your vision, give directdion that people would buy into. Leadership: everything rises and falls on leadership. I’m more convinced of  that fact today than I was 50 years ago. You have to have good leadership skills and good values.

    “Equipping: the ability to develop a team. Teamwork makes the dream work. When you can develop others, when you can develop a team, all of a sudden you compound your input, time and money.

    “Attitude: you are today where your thoughts have brought you. You will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you. The greatest gap between successful and unsuccessful people is the thinking gap.

    “Relationships: the ability to relate well with people, to connect well with people. People won’t go along with you unless they can get along with you.”

     What’s Your Extra Mile?

    Drew Cameron, EGIA Contractor University faculty member and president of FLOW Odyssey and Energy Design Systems, LLC, couldn’t have been more emphatic about the importance of doing more for customers every time you’re in a home comfort analysis. His presentation listed many practices that are essential in helping a customer “visualize the air” in their home. This include carbon monoxide testing, blower door measurements, flow hood testing and balancing, duct sealing and modification, filter changeouts, coil cleaning and duct cleaning and adding return air registers on every home.

    And don’t try to sell “efficiency” Cameron said. “Nobody really cares that much [about efficiency]. They bought the house and the utility bills arrive and they say, ‘I guess that’s what it costs to live here. They’ve been paying it for years, and all of a sudden they’re getting triggered because it’s gone up a little bit?

    “It’s about lifestyle impact. Get back to the tools, get back to what you know, get back to teaching customers what you know and how it will solve problems. You have the resources, you just need to be more resourceful with them. Ask more questions. Do a home audit on the existing system. Check the air quality. The box is part of the solution but it’s the least important part. Because, if you don’t fix the air flow, the box doesn’t perform. Consider doing an energy evaluation with the advanced tools we talked about earlier.

    “When I see you next year,” Cameron concluded, “I want you to tell me you did some of what we talked about today, and tell me about the amazing results that you have had, and the lives you’re changing.”

    EPIC2024 will change things up as far as show venue, by staging it at the Disneyland Hotel & Convention Center in Anaheim, Calif.