The Mechanical Service Contractors Association (MSCA) had much to celebrate during its Annual Conference, Sept. 17-20 in Scottsdale, AZ. It was the association's 25th Annual Conference; 90 first-time attendees were present; 18 new STAR designations were recognized; and there was a long list of successful programs initiated in 2010 for members to applaud.

"It's hard to believe we're celebrating our 25th annual MSCA conference," said 2010 Chairman, David Bavisotto, during his opening remarks.

"We've come a long way from those humble beginnings in 1985, when a small group of forward-thinking MSCA members gathered in Las Vegas for an intensive week of learning and discussions. I'm proud to say we've not only grown and prospered as an association, but we've all had a hand in elevating our industry to new heights of success, recognition, and importance. We've stood together and persevered, through good times and bad," Bavisotto said.

Bavisotto noted that, over the next 30 years, more than 150 billion sq. ft. of commercial building space will require upgrades and renovations.

"Building owners can use the band-aid approach for only so long, and we're getting to that point of no return, when simple, low-cost repairs will not be sufficient to keep the equipment operating properly, or at all," he said.

Bavisotto also cited the growth of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) and energy efficiency requirements for buildings as additional harbingers of growth.

He then enumerated the many educational programs, webinars, and publications MSCA has provided to its members in 2010, to help them succeed in challenging economic times.

"Our focus this year — on sustainable solutions, specifically energy and plumbing services — has helped open the door to new opportunities for our members, and reinforced valuable partnerships with customers," he said.

Those programs will continue in 2011, beginning in January, when MSCA begins a new, intensive training program for field supervisors. (Visit http://www.mcaa.org/education/msca/ to register.)

Futurist says to act on change.
The future is whatever you imagine to be, said technology forecaster and business strategist Daniel Burrus, president, Burrus Research, Hartland, WI during a morning keynote speech.

The theme for this year's MSCA meeting was "FLIP Your Thinking." From Burrus's perspective, a "flip" in thinking means getting outside the box of the daily grind, and running in step with the changes and opportunities made possible by technology. Burrus says it's clear that the processing power of personal computing devices will increase. Do you think Smart Phones will have even greater capacity, and run high definition streaming video? It's coming. New, 5G iphones? Just wait for them, they'll be here soon enough.

Compete on your terms.
In a world of uncertainty, Burrus said, contractors must redefine, reinvent, and do what their competitors don't do, or can't do.

"You must change how you think about your services and the competition. It's all about foresight, not hindsight," Burrus said. "Forget the past, and look to the future, which is all about relationships based on trust. Trust is earned by honesty, integrity, and delivering on your promises."

Burrus told the audience of MSCA-member contractors that mistakes that undermine customer trust must be eliminated, because of the vast amount of change that's coming along in the next five years.

"There's a strategic shift taking place: you're going from being a maintenance provider to becoming a trusted advisor and problem solver," Burrus said.

Additional MSCA Annual Conference presentations included:

  • "Social Change," by Peter Sheahan, CEO of the Centre for Skills Development;
  • "Vision in Times of Turbulence," by Howard Putnam, former CEO of Southwest Airlines;
  • "The True Cost of One Hour of Service," by Steve Smith, vice president of mechanical services for ACCO Engineered Systems, Glendale, CA
  • "Ten Leadership Laws", by Gerry Layo, CEO, Sales Coach International;
  • "Net-zero Energy Buildings," by William Harrison, CEO, Trane Arkansas and Tim Wents, P.E. of the MCAA Institute for Project Management.

Wayne Turchetta, vice president, sales, HMS Service Company, Louisville, KY, received the MSCA's D.S. O'Brien Award of Excellence, for his dedication and commitment to the HVAC industry and to MSCA. Additionally, 18 new MSCA STARs were recognized for their excellence in business professionalism, and six new Green STARs were recognized for their commitment to energy efficient solutions for customers. — Terry McIver