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ACCA Announces Leadership Transition

Sept. 5, 2018
Paul Stalknect departs Air Conditioning Contractors of America, after 17 years with this national HVAC association. Bart James to serve as interim President and CEO. Expanded business and technical training promised.

ARLINGTON, Va. Sept. 5, 2018 — The Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) announced today that Paul Stalknecht, President & CEO, is leaving the association to pursue other opportunities.

“We thank Paul for his many years of service to ACCA members, and the HVACR industry. We wish him well in his new endeavors,” said Steve Schmidt, ACCA Board of Directors Chairman.

Stalknecht began his ACCA career in 2001. As president and chief executive officer Stalknecht has led the 50-year-old association through a series of unprecedented changes since assuming its top executive role.

ACCA’s Board of Directors has named Barton James, ACCA senior vice president of government relations, as interim president and CEO.

“I am honored to be selected by the Board to serve as the new president and CEO,” James said. “This is an exciting time to lead the contracting industry’s trade association. With the Board’s guidance and the assistance of ACCA’s professional staff, I am certain that ACCA will remain the must-join association for contractors.”

Schmidt told Contracting Business that the changes announced today began to take root during his first speech as ACCA Chairman earlier this year.

"Back in February, at the last ACCA Conference, I made quite a few promises about learning what members valued in an association, and what their membership was all about, and what I was going to do about it. We've been making lots of progress and lots of changes, Schmidt said. "We're very excited about the future and Bart's ability to take us into that future, so that we can serve our members and be the premier contracting association in our nation. Paul did an awesome job over 17 years. We determined that organization needed to go in a different direction, and wanted the person who would be here in the future to be part of charting that path. We wanted to make the change sooner rather than later," Schmidt said.

Schmidt said ACCA would be committed to expanding the business-building information it provides that is so necessary to HVAC entrepreneurs.

"We need to lead our contractors to business success," Schmidt said. "Government advocacy and codes and standards information are important, but we also need to give contractors the tools they need everyday to succeed in business: management training and technical training, and be better about reaching people where they're at regionally," which Schmidt said would entail greater involvement in ACCA chapters.

"In the past, we have had a loose connection with our Affiliated Contractor Organizations, but we want to make it a very strong connection in the future," Schmidt said.

Schmidt said the changes would not include adding personnel to the ACCA headquarters office.

"We have a great team and a great Board of Directors," James said. "We just need to dive in deeper with those relationships, and really focus on what our members need, and ensure they have the tools that ACCA has been good at producing, to stay ahead of their needs and focus on the HVAC industry's next generation. The Board is committed, and wants to see the volunteer spirit expand across ACCA. That's how associations become more powerful, by everyone rolling up their sleeves, becoming involved, and also communicating what their needs are."

ACCA is offering members two events in November, designed to reach both managers and up-and-coming leaders in contracting firms. "Next Level," on Nov. 6-7, in Fort Worth, Tex., will provide sessions and networking opportunities to help managers develop their individual management and leadership styles. This will be followed by the "Service Leadership" conference, for service managers in the plumbing, HVAC and electrical trades, Nov. 8-9, 2018, in Fort Worth, Tex. 

The 2019 ACCA Annual Conference — entitled "Optimize" — will be held March 4-6, 2019 in San Antonio, Tex. 

A wide variety of certification and other training opportunities continue to be offered in the "Education and Events" tab at

About the Author

Terry McIver | Content Director - CB

A career publishing professional, Terence 'Terry' McIver has served three diverse industry publications in varying degrees of responsibility since 1987, and worked in marketing communications for a major U.S. corporation.He joined the staff of Contracting Business magazine in April 2005.

As director of content for Contracting Business, he produces daily content and feature articles for CB's 38,000 print subscribers and many more Internet visitors. He has written hundreds, if not two or three, pieces of news, features and contractor profile articles for CB's audience of quality HVACR contractors. He can also be found covering HVACR industry events or visiting with manufacturers and contractors. He also has significant experience in trade show planning.