Hundreds of mechanical contractors recently attended the Mechanical Service Contractors of America (MSCA) annual CONNECT education conference Oct. 15-18 in Boca Raton, Fla. Attendees enjoyed multiple networking events, educational sessions, workshops, exhibitions, keynote presentations and more.

UA General President Mark McManus, who spoke during the event’s opening session, spoke of the need for service contractors and labor organizations to work closely together to promote the future of the trades.

“We are looking at some really dire times as far as the next generation of the workforce, but at the same time, the service industry continues to grow,” he said. “Organization does not fall just on the United Association — it’s an industry-wide effort. We have to solve this problem as an industry, and if we can collaboratively work that way, I think it makes us all stronger.”

Magician and entrepreneur Vinh Giang followed McManus onstage, entertaining guests with magic tricks while discussing the conference’s theme: Possibility.

“How to magicians create the impossible?” he asked. “We always take the first step and keep an open mind. When you believe it can be done, only then can you take the first step, and when you take the first step, you can take the next step.”

Actor and industry proponent John Ratzenberger, perhaps best known for his role as the mailman Cliff Clavin on the television series “Cheers,” spoke about his background as a journeyman carpenter and the importance of the trades during the event’s closing session.

“Manufacturing and the use of tools is the backbone of America,” he said. “I always taught my children, get a skill that nobody can take away from you. Own that skill. Certainly, being a plumber is one of those skills. Acting is not that big of a deal — plumbing is.

“Have that, possess it, and you’re invulnerable — you’re bulletproof. You can get a job anywhere on the planet.”

Outgoing MSCA Chairman Chris Carter also spoke during the closing session as he handed over the reins of the organization to incoming Chairman Jaimi Lomas, the first female to hold the position.

“My year has come to an end, and I know that those following in my footsteps are certain to continue the path we’re on,” Carter said. “I’m excited to see what those who are coming after me are going to do.”

“I am honored to be your chairman this year,” Lomas said. “My message is to get involved. I guarantee that no matter how much time you invest in this organization, you will get back so much more than you can imagine.”

MSCA’s 2018 education conference will be held Oct. 21-24, 2018, at the Hyatt Regency in Huntington Beach, Calif. Visit for more information.