Radiant contractor Dan Foley can pack a lot into a three-ring binder — namely, proof of 25 years of professionalism and expertise in completing some of the industry’s most elaborate hydronic and radiant heating systems.
Then, of course, there are the schematics of piping and wiring, a tubing drawing and a narrative of how the heating system should operate.
“I can’t remember what I had for lunch today,” said Foley of Foley Mechanical, based in Lorton, Virginia, “So how am I going to figure out what I installed five years ago?”
Foley presented a radiant and heating documentation seminar at ACCA’s IE3 Show, which took place March 20-22 in Nashville. His presentation was part of the group’s Learning Labs, which featured a radiant and hydronics track and 20 other workshops focused on commercial contracting, residential contracting and building performance.
The event drew more than 1,500 people over the course of three and a half days. The event also featured the Marketplace Festival, a day-long trade show with more than 200 exhibiting companies and 27,000 square feet of space exhibit space.
Documentation is part and parcel of the mega-homes that Foley typically heats. His largest to date is 42,000 square feet, with many other residential projects basically functioning like commercial construction. But regardless of size, Foley encouraged all heating contractors to back up their work with words and drawings.
For Foley, a hand-drawn sketch on a notepad is better than nothing at all. His presentation included plenty of pictures of other contractors’ radiant work that he had been called in to fix. “Sawzall surgery” is what Foley called it when he went to troubleshoot other troubled installations.
At the very least, basic documentation will help other members of a contractor’s own team handle maintenance. It’s also well worth including commissioning work, particularly when owners or general contractors of large-scale heating projects require a third-party to conduct testing and balancing.
Foley shared some easy-to-use programs that can be downloaded from manufacturers such as Taco Home Comfort and Uponor. For CADD work, Foley recommended hiring a professional.
“It’s not something you can do once and then remember how to do it again six months later,” Foley added.
One of the show’s most entertaining sessions was the Contractor Makeover held at the event’s MainStage and meant for all to attend.
Dozens of contractors applied for the Contractor Makeover Session that was led by ACCA’s “Dream Team” of contractors:
Contractor Clint Jones, Services Unlimited of Raleigh Inc. in Raleigh, North Carolina made the cut. Jones’ business is currently at 90 percent new construction and 10 percent service and replacement, and Jones wants to move away from that over-reliance on new construction.
The Dream Team conducted a thorough review of SURI’s operations, marketing, staffing and goals, and provided Jones with a sound strategy to help him complete his makeover.
To ensure that Jones has the plans, resources and confidence to create a major change for his company, the Dream Team donated $2,500 worth of marketing materials from Nuke Digital; Emerson provided five of its home monitoring service kits; and Davisware donated $20,000 worth of software. Emerson is an ACCA Corporate Partner and Davisware is a long-time ACCA supporter.
The Dream Team, and ACCA, will continue to check in with Jones up until next year’s IE3 when a one-year follow-up will take place.
Honors and awards
This year, ACCA recognized its award winners during the Industry Champions breakfast on March 21.
Some of the top contracting companies in the industry were honored with the 2017 Contractors of the Year awards. Residential winner Lee Company in Franklin, Tennessee and commercial winner James River Air Conditioning in Richmond, Virginia, were recognized during the breakfast.
Richard Dykstra of Dykstra Home Services in Crestwood, Illinois, was presented with the Skip Snyder Humanitarian Award for his work with a variety of philanthropic efforts including preparing meals and feeding the homeless in Chicago; replacing rooftop HVAC units at the William Leonard Public Library in Robbins, Illinois, and the Journey Crisis Counseling Center in Mokena, Illinois, with donated equipment; and donating money and equipment to local schools and their sports programs.
Jack Bartell of Virginia Air Distributors in Richmond, Virginia, was presented with ACCA’s Distinguished Service Award for his hard work and dedication to developing and promoting ACCA’s standards, quality installation practices and contractor accreditation.
New this year, ACCA and Federated Insurance teamed up to present the Super S.T.A.R. Safety Award.
The new award honors an ACCA contractor member and Federated Insurance client who make managing employee and customer risks a top priority in their company’s success.
Recipients have both leading programs and practices in place that focus on the four components that make up the S.T.A.R. acronym: Safety, Teamwork, Action and Responsibility.
This year’s recipient Bruce Beckwith of Beckwith Heating & Cooling in Akron, Ohio, received the award due to his company’s consistent and thorough commitment to proactively managing all on-the-job employee safety risks. Some of those programs include pre-employment driving record screening; a drug-free workplace program that includes drug testing; GPS and back-up cameras installed on all vehicles; and weekly safety training programs.
Finally, ACCA honored Laura DiFilippo of DiFilippo's Service in Paoli, Pennsylvania, with the association’s highest honor, the Spirit of Independence Award.
The award is presented to an individual who has made significant and lasting contributions to the strength, success and independence of HVAC contractors in the industry.
DiFilippo was honored for her continuous service to ACCA and the industry. As the first and only female chair of the ACCA board of directors, she led the association through changing times, and even after her term helped ACCA navigate changing to an open membership model.
Next year’s IE3 Show will take place Feb. 12-14, at the Gaylord National Harbor in Washington, D.C. The programming will again feature Learning Labs for residential and commercial contractors, plumbing and hydronics contractors, and building performance professionals. It will also feature the Marketplace Festivals.