July 2021

Letter from the Executive Director

As the month of August quickly approaches, we find ourselves in a continued battle with COVD-19. Variants have spread to vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals, some cities and towns have reinstituted mandates, and we find ourselves anxious about when we can “return to normalcy”. Far be it for me to be the bearer of bad news, but life as we know it will not return to “normalcy”. We will have a “new normal”. Similar to healthcare, we may soon have in-person, remote, and hybrid responses to our customers needs. Does this sound like a far-fetched idea? Maybe. That’s we thought about a visit to the doctor and then telehealth surged during the pandemic. What remains to be seen is how we incorporate transformation into our daily work schedules with our customers and staff. Stay tuned!

Virginia Apprenticeship Program
Speaking of a “new normal”, I am pleased to announce that AACP is now a Registered HVAC Technician Apprenticeship Program Sponsor in the State of Virginia. This means we will expand our acclaimed apprenticeship program to Virginia contractors. Why should you put your apprentice in our program? Upon successful completion of classroom instruction and On-The-Job Training hours, a graduate can apply for their Virginia [or Maryland] Journeyperson’s license without sitting for the exam. Our program meets all state-mandated requirements – in BOTH states. If that’s not enough, there is reciprocity between the two states for the Journeyperson’s License. Watch for more details. Or, if you have an apprentice, enroll them now!

Training & Certification

In July, AACP embarked on a transformation to how we meet your training and certification needs. The newly established Training & Certification Committee will encompass among other training, the Apprenticeship Program, NATE, CFC, OSHA, and Heat Exchangers. Chaired by past president, Mike Tucker, this committee will ultimately develop a full-service of training and certification programs for you and your technicians. We’re just getting started, but be on the watch as we move forward with this endeavor.

Our Line-Up
Here’s a fall lineup that’s hard to beat.

  • Batting first is our Baseball Networking & Graduation Event which includes a Bowie Baysox game on Saturday, August 28. Come celebrate the graduates of our Apprenticeship Class of 2020 and 2021 and enjoy a baseball game, food, drink, and fireworks!

  • Batting second is our Annual Golf Tournament at the Raspberry Falls Golf & Hunt Club in Leesburg, Virginia. Join us on Friday, September 10 as your ticket price includes the opportunity to golf a full 18 - hole course, enjoy delicious complimentary food and beverages, as well as the chance to win some great prizes!

  • Batting third is the Sponsorship of the Annual Golf Tournament. This is a great "get out of the office" opportunity for you to showcase your company to HVAC industry professionals from Maryland, D.C., and Virginia!

  • In the clean-up spot is our acclaimed Apprenticeship Program taught by industry experts who have a passion to teach trade’s apprentices. To protect our apprentices, instructors, team, and customers, we will host the program virtually and include specialized Learning Labs for hands-on instruction.

  • In the sixth spot is our Quarterly Legal Q&A with Frank Kollman, JD on Thursday, September 16. This is a FREE [AACP members] hour-long discussion with our long-time legal advisor and friend. Bring your questions and get “straight-talk” from Frank.

  • Batting seventh is our annual Heat Exchanger Experts Seminar on Wednesday, October 6. Over 50 field-tested heat exchangers are brought to the classroom for your personal inspection. See the stress points, fracture zones, and design considerations which you MUST know in order to properly inspect a furnace.

  • Batting eighth is the final installment of the Quarterly Legal Q&A with Frank Kollman, JD on Thursday, November 18.

  • Batting ninth is our continued advocacy efforts in Maryland, DC, and Virginia. If you’re not a member….you need to be!

As always, stay safe. The Board of Directors and I look forward to seeing you at our fall line-up.

Peter

Peter Constantinou
Executive Director

Upcoming events


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Manufacturers Expect Some Changes to Last for Residential HVAC

Indoor air quality, move to digital sped up by pandemic

Contributed by the ACHR News

It’s been more than a year of change and challenges for residential HVAC contractors. The coronavirus pandemic drove some of this, although in some cases, it only accelerated existing trends. And some of these issues come from trends beyond the pandemic. A panel of executives from three OEMs recently gathered online to discuss where the residential segment is at and where it’s headed.

The seminar was hosted via video conference by the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA). Panelists were Tom Overs, vice president of residential business for Mitsubishi Electric Trane US (METUS); Mike Branson, president of global air at Rheem Manufacturing; and Justin Keppy, president of residential and light commercial HVAC at Carrier.

Last March, Overs said, the entire economy came to a halt. It seemed like HVAC contractors would face a long struggle for business. But then, after Memorial Day, consumers started to take the money they had set aside for summer vacations and invest in the homes in which they were suddenly spending all their time. Meanwhile, HVAC technicians had been deemed essential workers, meaning they could respond to this need for improved indoor comfort.

“You saw the tidal wave from June until the end of the year, and really it’s continued into this year,” Overs said. “We’ve continued to see strong demand from our customers. We see it as a robust economy right now, and consumers continue to spend on products for their homes.”

The unexpected consumer demand strained the HVAC equipment supply chain. Manufacturers operated under the assumption of lower demand and scaled back production in the spring, Branson said. They then faced challenges from the pandemic with labor shortages, workers unable to come in due to either illness or exposure, and the demands for social distancing. This added to an ongoing lack of parts due to issues overseas.

“There were a lot of precautions we had to take that really slowed down the ability to provide product at certain times,” Branson said. “But we did the right things for employees of our companies.”

These issues continue even now. Keppy said it has shown the industry where its strengths were and exposed some opportunities going forward. It also demonstrated the need for good communication and ordering practices. Keppy said the fulfilment process needs to grow more visible and manufacturers need to work more with their customers to incorporate demand forecasts.

“These latest shocks really showed how concerning in some places the supply chains really were, and we’re taking those lessons to heart going forward,” he said.

Everyone learned new ways to communicate and interact during the pandemic. These practices provide a good example of how the extraordinary situation advanced technological adaptation. Now HVAC contractors need to look at how to interact earlier with consumers online, Branson said. For example, do they take down payments online?

Keppy recommends better websites that educate consumers and offer a variety of solutions for concerns such as IAQ. It seems as if the public suddenly became interested in IAQ due to increased attention to preventive measures overall, ranging from slathering themselves with hand sanitizer to scrubbing the groceries. But really, IAQ is another example of a trend that grew faster during the pandemic, Overs said.

“The pandemic just brought it out from consumers because of all the time we were spending in our homes,” he said.

One long-term challenge the pandemic made even more pressing for HVAC contractors is the ongoing labor shortage. Branson said he sees some positive movement in this area. He’s attended several high school awards ceremonies in recent years and noticed an increase in scholarships for HVAC schools. Branson said HVAC contractors need to make sure they engage with their local schools.

They should also look at people outside the field and consider training candidates themselves. One group ripe for recruiting, Branson said, is military veterans transitioning to civilian life. Keppy said manufacturers help HVAC contractors by providing recruiting material. He said the industry needs to look at ways of making the workforce more diverse.

“Our industry is still way underweighted from a gender standpoint as well as a diversity standpoint,” Keppy said. “The more that we can do to attract interest across other populations, [the more] it will help fill not only the technician shortage but also the leadership shortage that we’re facing with a number of retirements.”

More young people may be drawn to the HVAC business as it becomes more digital, Overs said. The move to smart thermostats has many people viewing HVAC as part of a forward-looking technology rather than an older mechanical system, he said.

“We’re becoming a little more sexy,” Overs said.

With the pandemic appearing to subside, attention now turns to other issues, such as the environment. For HVAC contractors, that means the move toward refrigerants with lower GWP. A major concern for contractors is many of the alternatives are flammable — unlike R-22, the refrigerant which they replace. Branson said while these new refrigerants do have a certain level of flammability, it’s lower than natural gas or propane, both of which HVAC contractors regularly work with now.

There are non-flammable alternatives, Branson said, but most have yet to reach the stage where they can be easily used in HVAC systems. That day will come, though, so HVAC contractors can expect another change some time in the future. Branson said future refrigerants will provide greater efficiency and heat transfer.

“I would put money on it that this is not the end,” he said. “It will never end. We continue to innovate.”

Change will remain a constant for HVAC contractors, the panel agreed.


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Interested in Becoming a Member of AACP?

We have three categories of membership. They are:

Contractor membership is open to any company engaged principally in the heating, ventilation, and/or air conditioning business as a contractor, who becomes a contractor member of the national association, and who is not a subsidiary, affiliate, division, or related entity of a public utility.

Associate membership is open to companies engaged in (a) manufacturing, (b) wholesaling, jobbing, and selling allied products or equipment principally to contractors and/or (c) supplying fuels, energies, or other services beneficial to the industry.  Associate membership is not open to retailers or other suppliers who sell principally to the general public.  Associate members have voting rights and can hold an elected office. Subsidiaries, affiliates, related entities, and divisions of associate members are not eligible for membership in the association.

Vocational membership
shall be available to teachers, students, heating inspectors, and other such individuals having interest in the environmental systems industry.  Vocational members shall not have the right to vote and hold an elected office.

GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR MEMBERSHIP


  • Local, State and National Legislative & Advocacy efforts
  • Participation in the nationally recognized Apprenticeship Program
  • Education opportunities for your technicians and staff - (NATE, CFC, Business management, Legal and Legislative)
  • Industry Resources - (IRS documents, Risk Management documents, white papers, Code Compliance, six e-Newsletters)
  • Member pricing for events and training sessions
  • A discounted rate on insurance for member companies


HVACR Technicians Should Think Twice, Do Once

Simple mistakes during maintenance can lead to serious issues

By: Contributed by ACHR News

The old saying, “measure twice, cut once,” can definitely be applied to our trade. In that same vein, service technicians should also remember to “think twice, do once,” because there are many times that we can be our own worst enemy. Simple mistakes we make can lead to some serious issues for both us and our customers. Thinking before doing is the key to avoiding some of these costly mistakes.

When de-icing an evaporator coil, for example, think about the best way to handle the job without causing damage to the system. There are several ways to safely de-ice an evaporator, including using water, a heat gun, or simply de-energizing the compressor and leaving the evaporator fan running. Of course, never use an ice pick or a metal object to de-ice a coil. Although water is a good option, it may not always be the right choice. If there is no way to drain the water away, or if the water can cause damage to an electrical component, it becomes a poor option. A heat gun works well too, but if the heat will damage any plastic housing, any electrical wiring, or any other component, it also is not a good choice.

When drilling, always look carefully at what you are drilling into or through. One day, I was drilling through a floor joist to run an electrical line and did not look at the opposite side of the joist — and drilled right into a water line. Not a good day!

Working with older equipment involves working with older nuts, bolts, and flare nuts. When taking these items off and putting them back on, care should be taken not to force them as this could easily damage the threads. If the threads do not easily fit on by hand, find out why before taking a wrench to them. Once the threads are damaged, the piece will need to be replaced. This is especially important when working with the bolts on a compressor. If these bolts become damaged, you may be forced to change out the whole compressor to repair the problem.

When diagnosing a system problem, always look at the entire system. If you need to measure the system’s pressure, always measure both the high- and low-side pressure. Do not be a one gauge technician. Also always inspect the condition of the evaporator and condenser coil before determining a system problem based on an abnormal pressure reading. A dirty coil or iced evaporator will cause an abnormal operating pressure not caused by a lack of or an excessive amount of refrigerant.

If a voltage, amperage, temperature, or pressure measurement does not make sense, check your tool. A defective tool can cause you to spend a lot of excessive time looking for a problem that does not exist or lead you in the wrong direction as you try to determine the root cause of the problem. I generally carry two of my commonly used test tools, so I have a backup if I need it.

So remember to “think twice, do once,” and avoid making costly mistakes for you and your customers.


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Triple Protection Plan – An Employee Retention Strategy

Presented by our sponsor - Federated Insurance

Over the years you’ve built a profitable business. You’ve invested your money and time to cultivate your passion. Now it’s time to consider your most valuable business asset. While physical assets — the buildings and equipment — support financial goals, the success of many businesses can be traced to the good judgment, skills, and expertise of your key employees.

Ask yourself: What if a competitor makes your key employee an offer they can’t refuse? What is the impact on the business if you or your key employee dies? What happens to the family of your key employee when the paycheck stops?

Your key employees aren’t listed on your balance sheet or your income statement, but what they do makes an impact. Unfortunately, many business owners train and mentor employees with the intention they will stay forever, only to have them leave. Many people don’t realize how costly this can be if they have not thought about losing an employee, or considered the consequences associated with that loss.

The question becomes how to protect your business against these possibilities. Wisely allocating your financial resources and providing protection for multiple concerns with one specially designed program can help protect your business.
Triple Protection Plan

With a Triple Protection Plan you can help address your employee retention concerns and help protect against the financial impact of an employee death. It can also provide a benefit for an employee’s spouse and/or children.  Here are the three components of the plan:

  1. A Private Bonus Plan can help retain employees. It is a program you develop that would pay selected employees set bonuses at specific times. The plan can be informally funded with a cash value life insurance policy and helps protect against the employee’s voluntary departure by providing a strong incentive to stay. The business applies for, owns, and pays the premiums on a life insurance policy on the key employee to informally fund the private bonus plan.  The business can then withdraw policy cash values as needed and in accordance with policy terms to pay the scheduled bonuses.

  2. Key Person Coverage can help protect against financial losses associated with an employee’s death. The proceeds from the same life insurance policy can help provide liquidity, which can be used to recruit, hire, and train a replacement. It can also be used for business continuation or overhead expenses.

  3. Family Protection allows the business the opportunity to share the life insurance protection with the employee’s family. Using an Endorsement Split Dollar plan, the company can provide life insurance to a key employee. The company remains in control of the policy while offering some financial resources for the key employee’s family with a portion of the death benefit.

Employee retention and the potential departure of a key person are concerns for all business owners. By using a Triple Protection Plan, you can help enhance your efforts to incentivize talented employees to stay. One plan to help address three problems!



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