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The ACCA 'Optimize' event was a time for learning and networking, and the beginning of a new era of service to ACCA’s HVAC contractor members.

Arlington, VA March 13, 2019 – The 2019 ACCA Conference — which was branded, “Optimize”— had an exciting beginning, an information-packed middle, and a celebratory ending. Those ACCA member contractors in attendance did indeed optimize their time, as they followed a packed schedule of educational sessions.

The event convened in San Antonio, Tex., and marked the beginning of a new era of service to ACCA’s HVAC contractor members, and to the overall success and growth of the heating and air conditioning contrator association.

A total of 59 business and technical experts shared business-building information and ideas, in over 45 learning sessions, to help members improve and grow their HVAC contracting businesses. 

Keynoter Seth Mattison provided a look at “the future of work,” with stirring messages all business owners must take to heart. Ex-Dallas Cowboy superstar Darren Woodson gave an inspiring message that related his playing days under different coaches and with various teammates to success in life and business. Daniel Simmons, Assistant Secretary in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy spoke of the challenges facing the industry and how government hopes to help.

Guest speakers shared information on everything from technical and legal issues to sales, marketing, recruiting, and staff and customer retention. Speakers or discussion moderators included:

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The board of directors for Air Conditioning Contractors of America officially named Barton “Bart” James ACCA president and CEO, during the conference.

James had been serving as ACCA’s interim president and CEO since September 2018. The announcement was made by ACCA Immediate Past-Chairman, Steve Schmidt. 

“As ACCA underwent a leadership transition, the board was looking for an individual with a clear vision and plan to ensure ACCA remains the industry’s thought leader for years to come. Throughout his time with ACCA, Bart has proven he is a strategic thinker who will execute important goals set by ACCA’s volunteer leaders. The ACCA Executive Committee was proud to recommend Bart to the board of directors and we welcome his leadership as our new executive,” Schmidt said.

During the closing ceremony, Eric Knaak, ACCA’s 2019-20 chairman and vice president of operations for Isaac Heating & Air Conditioning, welcomed Bart’s leadership and commitment to robust membership programs and industry collaboration. 

Knaak said, “ACCA welcomes Bart as our new president and CEO. He has proven to be a thoughtful and detail-oriented leader who has set the stage for ACCA’s brightest years, with a strong focus on member engagement and industry collaboration. The board’s laser-focused objective is to unite our industry partners to ensure the industry is not duplicating resources, and we’re certain that Bart’s ability to foster strong relationships will help our association achieve that goal.” 

James expressed strong support for ACCA’s new strategic plan — which was presented by Schmidt earlier in the proceedings — and stated ACCA’s commitment to helping members become more successful.

“Success moving forward will be defined by membership satisfaction, membership engagement, and membership success. This will be achieved by ACCA improving the member contractors’ businesses and providing our members a handsome return on their investment year-in and year-out,” James said.

“Everything ACCA does will be member driven and member focused. And we will measure the success of our programs to ensure that we are giving you, our members, what you need to be successful.”

James  said ACCA is focusing on collaboration with industry partners at the national, state, and local levels. 

“This means we want to talk to all our current and former partners to see how we can work together. We believe that we are better together and that ACCA members will benefit from industry collaboration,” he said.

Phil Forner, Allendale Heating Company, received the 2019 Spirit of Independence Award. Forner has been involved with ACCA’s government relations activities, and in 2004 helped secure the introduction of the earliest version of the HVAC Expensing and Technology (HEAT) Act by former-Congressman Pete Hoekstra. This legislation was signed into law by President Trump as part of the 2017 Tax Reform Package. 

Forner has also worked diligently with ACCA on efforts to encourage more young men and women to join the HVAC industry. Phil is heavily involved with Ferris State University and the ACCA student chapter on campus. 

“Phil Forner has made significant contributions that will have a lasting impact on professionalism in the industry. Phil is certainly dedicated and passionate about our industry, and he joins a select group of others who have received ACCA’s most treasured award,” James said.

John Sedine of Engineered Heating & Cooling in Cedar Springs, Mich., was presented with the association’s Distinguished Service Award. 

John Sedine served as Chairman of the ACCA Board of Directors in 2010, served on the Board of the Michigan contracting association, and has served on several state and national code councils.

DiFilippo’s Service Company in Paoli, Pa., was awarded the Federated Insurance ACCA Super S.T.A.R. Award.

The S.T.A.R. award is presented annually to an ACCA member who prioritizes the four components of the award: safety, teamwork, accountability, and responsibility.  

The event included a great party sponsored by Emerson: "Mardi Gras at The Grotto," in the Henry Gonzalez Convention Center.

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