The Air Conditioning Contractors of America brings more than 40 educational sessions to Texas for its annual convention.

AUSTIN, Texas - The Air Conditioning Contractors of America is hoping the saying about "Texas size" applies to conventions. The group will hold its 37th annual convention March 9-12 at the Renaissance hotel in Austin, the state's capital city. To match the locale, ACCA officials say they are offering members a bigger convention program: 42 educational seminars, a round-table discussion and keynote speeches from founder Terrell B. Jones and New Mexico State University Professor Lowell Catlett, Ph.D. The convention's trade show, the Indoor Air Expo, has sold all available booth space, and officials say there is a waiting list for cancellations. Between the seminars and trade show, Austin offers plenty to do. The city is famous for it's music scene and nightlife, both of which have been featured on the Public Broadcasting Service television show "Austin City Limits." Here is a list of some of this year's events. At 1:30 p.m. March 9, these seminars and workshops are planned:


"Transitions in the Air-Conditioning Market." Hosted by Tim Fletcher and Geoff Godwin of Emerson Electric Co., this seminar will explain the impact of the new 13 seasonal-energy-efficiency-ratio standard transition to environmentally friendly R-410A refrigerant and modulated-systems technology. The "Commercial Refrigeration Issues" workshop will explain the current challenges facing HVAC contractors. Insurance company Equiguard will offer advice on "Selling Extended Warranties." The ACCA and Equiguard offer members a private-label risk-management designed especially for them. This seminar will discuss the program. Al Roach of Callahan/Roach & Garofalo will present "Effective Problem Solving." This workshop will challenge the "traditional" ways many company officials attempt to solve problems. According to the ACCA, this seminar will offer more efficient and effective problem-solving techniques, allowing managers to do their jobs instead of solving others' problems. Credit card-processing company Nova Information Systems will present a "Frank Talk About Credit Card Processing." Almost all businesses now work with credit cards, whether using them for purchases or accepting them for payment. This seminar will teach about credit authorization, settlement, qualification, e-commerce, phone orders, and preventing fraud and returned charges.


HVAC marketing consultant Adams Hudson of Hudson, Ink will tell "How to Solve the Costliest HVAC Marketing Mistake." The fast-paced workshop will cover getting customers, keeping them and selling maintenance agreements. Attendees will receive a free critique of their ads, a marketing calendar, sample newsletters and more. Issac Heating and Air in Rochester, N.Y., operates a year-round training "university" for its employees. At "How to Establish a Real In-House Training Program," Issac's Greg L. Goater will explain how the program was started, what it includes and how it has helped retain employees and increase profits. At 3:30 p.m., these are some of the seminars scheduled to take place: "ARI-Certified Products and the Contractor," presented by Zubin Dastoor of the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute, Mari-Lou Shonk of Intertek ETL Semko and Paul Wiebolt will explain how promoting and selling ARI-certified equipment helps contractors separate themselves from the competition. Rheem's Jack Sinkler will discuss new issues that may affect contractors' profits during "Key Changes to Profitability and Growth in the Next Two Years." Sinkler says contractors will need to change and offer new products and services to stay ahead. "Cycle-Time Reduction" is the name of Bill Napolitano's discussion. Napolitano, a member of the Institute for Business Excellence, will talk about the importance of speed to business success. Cycle time affects efficiency, productivity, customers and costs, Napolitano says.

Customer service

Most homeowners don't know the difference between one HVAC system and another, but they do know when they have been treated well. That's according to Kenneth J. Kukla, Ph.D., who will give his views on "Customer Service and Developing People." This session will offer tips on employee retention, improving company reputations and selling at higher prices. Officials from banking giant Wells Fargo will explain why HVAC contractors need to offer customers financing options. During "Becoming an Effective Credit Merchant," Wells Fargo will highlight four contractors that it says increased sales by up to $3 million offering financing. "Who Wags the Tail - You or Your Business? Practical Business Planning for Success" is designed for owners who don't feel they run their businesses; their businesses run them. Vicki and John LaPlant of VLE Enterprises will talk about business "focus" and the actions required to succeed at your livelihood. From 10:15 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. March 10, some of the discussions planned are: "How Building Science Explains HVAC Head Scratchers" with Brendan Reid of the Comfort Institute Inc., will talk about how more contractors are taking a whole-house approach to heating and cooling system installation. Reid says this approach can lead to more income and helps contractors stand out from competitors.

‘Green' building

Glenn Friedman, a licensed professional engineer with Taylor Engineering, will explain "The Mechanical Contractor's Role in LEED." LEED is the acronym for the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, which promotes environmentally friendly or "green" building. This seminar will explain how contractors can benefit from this recent trend. According to Airexchange Inc.'s Drake H. Erbe and Bede W. Wellford, "ASHRAE's Ventilation Standards Are Your Business." This session will go over indoor air quality issues and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers' standards 62.1, ventilation in commercial buildings, and 62.2, which deals with low-rise residential buildings. The session will explain their importance to contractors, covering systems sales, design, service and installation. Lennox's Sandra Curtis will explain how to market IAQ to customers during "Compelling, Telling and Selling: The Business of IAQ." Curtis will use studies to show how consumers are eager to hear about - and buy - IAQ-oriented products. Insurance is a huge issue for many contractors, and those present during "Understanding Insurance: What a Contractor Needs to Know" will learn about what companies can do to ensure they're protected. Mold coverage, indemnity agreements and the types of other coverage available to contractors will be discussed. Lobbying your state and local lawmakers is the topic of "The Contractor Activist: How Contractors Can Engage Lawmakers to Work for You." The ACCA's Chris Brown will lead this discussion on how to promote your business and the HVAC industry to those in power. (For more information on the ACCA's 37th annual convention, write 2800 Shirlington Road, Suite 300, Arlington, VA 22206; call (703) 575-4477 or see on the Internet.)