LAS VEGAS - The Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) approved at its convention here in February "a bold chapter restructuring plan for ACCA¿ (a) revolutionary, but essentially critical initiative."

According to ACCA president Larry Taylor, Air Rite A/C Co., Fort Worth, Texas, "ACCA has experienced a period of stagnant growth and support. Its voice and agenda has at times been splintered. Its presence has diminished and its ability to provide essential services and support to state and chapter affiliates weakened. A change was needed."

Too many contractors were members of local ACCA chapters but did not join the national - or vice versa. As a result of the change, contractors will be members of national ACCA first, and where ones exists, the local and state chapter. "Obviously," Taylor said, "there is more to it than just the fact that we will now have a single all-encompassing ACCA membership¿ Our local and state chapters will have the power of a stronger national organization as their partner focusing on federal advocacy issues, serving as a clearinghouse and resource of industry information, developing products and services to help the individual contractors, and providing essential organizational services to help chapters streamline and reduce administrative costs and improve their efficiencies."

He added: "By being one unified organization we have the numbers, the talents, the influence, and the energy to do great things."

Lynn Briggs, chapter executive Michigan ACCA, said he personally supports the move. He said he understands the importance of belonging to the national organization and adds that some local chapter-only members have been "getting a free ride" by choosing not to pay the national association dues. However, he said he also is concerned that chapter membership might fall off as members decide whether to join the national association, and pay the correspondingly higher dues. The MI-ACCA chapter has about 300 contractor members, he said. "We'll know by the end of the year what impact, if any, the move has on local chapter membership," he said.

Briggs is chairman of ACCA's Accounting and Billings Procedures Task Force, which will be helping to iron out these changes in dues implementation.

Chris Colditz, chapter president Northern Illinois ACCA, Laco Mechanical Services, said she favors the change and that it could work both ways, by also encouraging national ACCA members to join their local chapters. "I think we'll gain as many as we lose," she said. The move will also serve to boost lobbying efforts: "Contractors need to know we can't be passive anymore."