Our November feature by Kelly Faloon on HVAC associations had to go to press without some commentary Kelly obtained during an interview with Barton James, CEO of ACCA. We promised to include this information in December.
Read on to see the ways James and Air Conditioning Contractors of America have expanded support and outreach to members.
- Terry McIver
“From day one, we pushed to make sure that HVAC contractors were essential,” says Barton James, CEO of the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA). “We were ultimately successful. More than 10,000 HVACR professionals made their voices heard directly through our efforts. Our members have been working tirelessly throughout the pandemic to help keep our country’s infrastructure working, in addition to keeping Americans comfortable and safe in their homes.”
James notes that ACCA’s advocacy program participation has remained strong throughout the pandemic on issues ranging from energy-efficiency tax incentives to the Paycheck Protection Program to education. “Our members have stepped up and played a major role in advancing the contractor agenda,” he adds.
“The need to stay connected during the pandemic increased demand for knowledge in every way,” James notes. “While in-person meetings were unavailable, ACCA and contractors found ways to interact and deliver necessary information through online education and webinars. We saw a major increase in enrollment for online learning. Those methods have stuck and have changed the way we do business.”
Value propositions in ACCA membership:
“As our industry evolves and consolidates, ACCA is moving beyond a one-size-fits-all approach to contractor membership,” James explains. “If you like the membership you have, you can keep it, but in the coming months, we will offer contractors the option to upgrade for enhanced benefits such as unlimited on-demand training and discounted membership for additional locations.”
“As top contractors buy up their neighbors, the need for ACCA’s consistent training, quality standards and governmental advocacy have never been greater,” James says.
“Additionally, we are looking at ways to connect ACCA members directly with their representatives in Washington,” he notes. “This may include everything from site visits to shop tours to Zoom calls. We want to make sure policymakers understand the importance of the work that our members do and allow our members to tell their stories in the process.”
James notes that networking is an ongoing driver for ACCA members, through ACCA MIX Groups, Contractor Forum and in-person events. At the organization’s 2022 annual conference in St. Louis, March 28-30, ACCA will introduce SpeedNetworking to facilitate engagement in ACCA MIX Groups.
A Stronger ACCA:
“The uniqueness of the COVID-19 pandemic brought ACCA and our members closer,” James notes. “ACCA has offered a robust online learning library for more than a decade. As members turned to education and training for their staff during downtimes, ACCA was able to provide more learning opportunities faster, and in a way that has now become the standard.”
The pandemic brought on the return of ACCA’s ComfortU on-demand education, "Rise to the Top" live virtual courses, and "Codes & Coffee". They have proven to be popular membership features.
ACCA has completely automated the membership renewal and joining process, James notes. “A member can more easily renew online and set up membership and Quality Assured Accreditation for auto-pay with monthly or annual renewal.”
James adds that the HVACR contractor organization has an all-new member portal and the ACCA 365 app, making it easier to access member benefits that support every aspect of running a successful HVACR contracting company.
“Additionally, ACCA has been working to rebuild its alliances with state and local contracting organizations — combining ACCA’s national resources with their unsurpassed local networking and training events,” James explains. “In recent months, the Metropolitan Air Conditioning Contractors of New York and the Minnesota Heating and Cooling Association became ACCA Allied Contracting Organizations; we’re exploring new and renewed relationships with many others.”
“The shift to a more virtually oriented world has affected us quite a bit,” James says. “I believe ACCA has navigated the new terrain very well, if not seamlessly. We’re proud that we’ve been able to deliver for our members every step of the way without any interruption in our operations.”