Fortieth anniversaries aren’t too common. When they come along, many people want to celebrate.

Perhaps that’s why the Air Conditioning Contractors of America is holding its 40th annual meeting at the Broadmoor, a posh resort in Colorado Springs, Colo

The five-star, historic hotel is one of the most luxurious in the West, with 700 rooms, 15 restaurants and numerous on-site activities.

Whether ACCA convention attendees will have much time for the hotel’s amenities is another matter, as organizers have a packed schedule for the Feb. 5-7 event. Referring to the Roman numerals for 40, “XL,” the association says it’s making this year’s event “extra large.”

The Feb. 5 opening session will feature Steve Farber, president of consulting company Extreme Leadership. An author, Farber is expected to speak about business and his unique approach to it. Farber has been a hit at meetings of many public and private organizations.

Special guests

The Feb. 7 closing session will include a talk by photographer Steve Uzzell. During his presentation, “Open Roads, Open Minds: An Exploration of Creative Problem Solving,” Uzzell will show how his approach to photography contains lessons that can be used in peoples’ personal and professional lives.

In between those two, the ACCA will have a roundtable talk with the heads of several major HVAC manufacturers and a presentation by marketing guru Adams Hudson at 4:15 p.m. Feb. 5. “Secrets of the Contractor Millionaires” will explain how making big money in contracting isn’t as hard as it appears - if you follow Hudson’s advice.

As always, the convention will also include the Indoor Air Expo, the association’s annual trade show. Dozens of companies are expected to show some of their newest products.

In addition, like most conventions, the association’s meeting will include numerous educational sessions geared at making contractors better businesspeople. Check www.indoorairexpo.com or www.acca.org for exact times, dates and updates. But here are some of the sessions already announced.

“A Brand is Not a Logo: Projecting a Consistent Image of Professionalism and Quality,” will be presented by Robert Wilkos of Peaden Air Conditioning. Wilkos will explain how brands are different from logos and how you can project an image of professionalism regardless of what brand you sell.

“Selling Air: Marketing HVAC as a Service, Not a Box,” will be hosted by Larry Taylor of Air Rite Air Conditioning.

Taylor’s session will explain how Air Rite has been successful not by selling equipment but by promoting “quality of life,” and how other contractors can charge more for it.

ACCA members will have a chance to offer their ideas during “50 Ways to Leave Your Contractors Wanting More.” Bobby Ring of Meyer & Depew will lead this talk on what others are doing that works.

“Creating ‘Buzz’ in Your Local Community” doesn’t have anything to do with alcohol; it’s about how you can receive coverage from your city’s local media outlets. This type of editorial coverage in newspapers and on radio and television can be invaluable for increasing your business. Jeff Lee of Goyette Mechanical will lead the talk.

Insurance issues are a big deal for many small businesses. During “Health Insurance Options for Lowering Costs,” Brooke Duncan of Adams & Reese will offer ways you may be able to reduce your company’s expenses in this area. They will also host “Employee Benefit Programs That Work - For You and Them.” This session will cover innovative benefit programs that help retain workers.

Kyle Gargaro, managing editor of Snips’ sister publication the Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration News, will moderate “Implementing Performance-Based Pay Programs.” The talk will feature contractors who successfully use such incentives.

“Hey Dude… Managing the Next Generation of Workers,” will deal with the special challenges workers in their 20s present when supervisors and most co-workers are decades older. Jerry VanKooten from the Center for Generational Studies will offer his insights on why these workers are different from those of the past.

Thomas Yacobellis of Ductz has spoken many times at National Air Duct Cleaners Association events. This year, he brings “Running a Successful HVAC Restoration Business” to ACCA. Yacobellis says remediation work can be profitable if you have the right skills.

Mitch Slavensky of ACS Controls will lead “Commercial Controls Design and Diagnostics.” He will explain how contractors can now better predict when breakdowns will occur, making replacement decisions easier.

“Making Sales Presentations That Seal the Deal.” Even if you have the best staff, products and most efficient workers, if your sales presentations are lacking, it will not matter. This session will explain how to improve your presentations to get the sale. The speaker will be determined.

Do you want to do more than HVAC work? If so, then “Expanding from ‘Just HVAC’ to Other Services for Your Business” may be for you. Skip Snyder of the Snyder Co. will moderate this discussion on what others are doing to identify new markets and opportunities.

Money will be the topic of “Creative Collections: Getting Paid What You’ve Earned.” Presented by Ramon Fouse of TransWorld, it will cover the common problem of late and short payments. Fouse will offer 10 ways to improve payment collections.

Chandler von Schrader of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will talk about sustainable construction in “Whole House Diagnostics.” The growing “green” movement and the EPA’s upcoming expansion of its Energy Star labeling program to HVAC equipment are among the planned topics.

The Broadmoor resort in Colorado Springs, Colo. Image courtesy of the Broadmoor.

Sidebar - Host hotel, city offers a lot of activities

The 90-year-old Broadmoor, the Air Conditioning Contractors of America’s choice to host its 40th annual meeting, is a legendary hotel in the Western U.S.

It opened June 29, 1918, aiming to be among the most beautiful hotels in the world. It had a curved marble staircase, large chandeliers and hand-painted beams and ceilings. In the next nine decades, it added and remodeled hundreds of rooms and public spaces. A $75 million renovation was completed in 2002.

Over the decades, the hotel has hosted several U.S. presidents, including Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, George H. W. Bush, Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford, as well as foreign dignitaries and movie and television stars.

The hotel offers numerous amenities and activities. But there is much more to Colorado Springs, Colo., besides the hotel. If ACCA members have time to explore outside the hotel they’ll find the city offers much to do.

The city’s convention and visitors bureau says vacationing there is like “a stroll through a postcard.” Picturesque mountains and streams make it a year-round favorite destination. Hiking, fishing, horseback riding, dining and nightlife are all in the city or close by. Here are a few suggested leisure activities.

The American Numismatic Association’s Money Museum is located downtown. The association says coin collectors from the casual to the committed will enjoy its collection of rare money. Coins from ancient times, as well as more recent examples are displayed in the free attraction.

Within the surrounding Pikes Peak mountain region sits the Cave of the Wind. Described as an underground “mansion” of rooms and passages, its limestone walls took more than 200 million years to develop.

The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo claims to be America’s only zoo set in the mountains. Amazing views and more than 750 animals are among the attractions. Visitors have the chance to feed some of the zoo’s many giraffes by hand.

The Garden of the Gods is a registered national landmark. Awash in natural beauty, it offers hiking trails, horseback riding and rock climbing. Both it and the visitor center are free.

A short drive outside Colorado Springs are many Old West-themed attractions, including storefront casinos, former mining towns and other celebrations of the area’s past.