ARLINGTON, Va. - The Air Conditioning Contractors of America announced that Atlas Butler Heating & Cooling has won the association's 2004 Jeff Forker Award for Excellence in Training.

The award was presented at the ACCA's 36th annual convention, Feb. 25-28 in New Orleans.

ACCA officials said the Columbus, Ohio-based Atlas Butler maintains industry leadership through its commitment to continual education for all of its employees. The company's president, Mark Swepston, said dedication to his team's continual personal improvement led him to invest in constructing a 2,000-square-foot on-site training facility. The training center is equipped with hands-on education tools.

Atlas Butler has a guaranteed minimum of 40 hours of paid job-enhancement training per employee, gives college tuition reimbursement for job-related college courses.

Atlas Butler requires newly hired technicians to have North American Technician Excellence certification within one year of their start date.

The training award was renamed the Jeff Forker Award for Excellence in Training after Jeff Forker's death in January. Forker, the ACCA's 2004 Spirit of Independence Award recipient, was publisher of Contracting Business magazine and a longtime industry champion with a passion for industry education and certification.

The other finalist for the Excellence in Training Award was Air Assurance Co. of Broken Arrow, Okla.