With a lineup of speakers that began with retired Gen. Norman H. Schwarzkopf and Olympic gold medallist Rulon Gardner, leadership was the clear theme throughout the MCAA 2002 Convention, Feb. 3-7 in Boca Raton, Fla.

With a lineup of speakers that began with retired Gen. Norman H. Schwarzkopf and went on to include well-known management consultant Tom Peters and Olympic gold medallist Rulon Gardner, leadership was the clear theme throughout the MCAA 2002 Convention, Feb. 3-7 in Boca Raton, Fla.

Much of the convention's proceeding can be best summed up by Ron Magus, director at FMI, who led an afternoon seminar on building a leadership culture:

"Talent matters," Magus said. "It matters more than tangible assets, such as tools and building materials or even more than intangible assets such as brand name and marketing position. But we spend more time on project management than on developing talented people."

Developing your own talent was also the main point of another keynote speech by Barry Gibbons, the former chairman and CEO of Burger King. While taking some potshots at himself for being a "burger flipper" talking to a crowd of mechanical contractors, Gibbons went on to discuss how the idea of a "brand name" applies to more than just product.

"The science of branding is about you," he explained. "About how you can make yourself clearer in the marketplace."

The following are just some highlights of the 2002 convention, which was attended by 1,700 people:

  • Kinetics Southwest of Mesa, Ariz., received the E. Robert Kent Award for Management Innovation. The award is given annually to a member company for "innovation that will improve productivity, achieve cost-effectiveness or otherwise improve the mechanical contracting industry."

    Kinetics won for its quality program dubbed "The Five S's," which are sorting; simplifying; sweeping; standardizing; and self-discipline. First developed in Japan and later adopted by American manufacturers, the Kinetics program reduced wasted time spent searching for tools, materials and information. The program helped Kinetics increase available space in its workshops without building new facilities. As part of the effort, Kinetics was able to use $5,000 worth of otherwise unutilized material.

    This year's competition included such high-caliber companies that MCAA also named two finalists. Midwest Mechanical Contractors of New Jersey was honored for its safety program; and the Brewer-Garrett Co., was chosen for its electronic bar-code systems used for preventive maintenance and repairs.

  • Frederick S. Oyer, International Piping Systems, Schaumburg, Ill., received the Distinguished Service Award. The award, MCAA's highest form of recognition, is given annually to the member who "displays extraordinary dedication and service to the progress, development and expansion of MCAA and the mechanical industry."

  • MCA of Maryland received the Foster McCarl Jr. Philanthropy Award. The Maryland association was honored for its program to provide funding for the Mechanical Contracting Foundation. The association has pledged to donate 1 cent per hour for every man-hour worked during the each contract year. This will enable the trade group to double in 10 years the amount it would previously have given over a 15-year period.

  • The University of Washington won the MCAA's first Student Chapter Competition. Chapter teams put together proposals how to best convert a parking garage into a new data center. The University of Nebraska was the runner-up. In other news, the University of Nebraska was named the Student Chapter of the Year. The MCAA also presented charters to three new student chapters: the University of Maryland and Eastern Shore Student Specialty Construction Association; MCAA Student Chapter at Georgia Tech; and Central Washington University MCA Student Chapter.

    The following affiliated trade associations received the MCAA's Best Practices Awards that recognize "excellence in programs, services and activities:"

  • The ARCA/MCA of Southern California's Labor Relations/Collective Bargaining Initiative was an effort to reach a five-year collective bargaining agreement with Local 250. The agreement contains a provision that ties an extra wage increase to organizing success.

  • The MCA of North Central Wisconsin's Safety Day was established by Local 400 and others. This weekly, after-hours program included 11 courses attended by 700 people.

  • The MCA of New York's Service Group offers an annual defensive driving class to all service technicians in Local 638. The program is consistently sold out, attendees receive a 10 percent discount on personal automobile insurance for years and have four points removed from their drivers' licenses.

    Finally, Robert W. FitzGerald, CEO of FitzGerald Contractors, Shreveport, La., became president of MCAA. Thomas L Williams, president of the construction division of McKenny's Inc., Atlanta, Ga., was elected president-elect. Anthony P. Marandola, president of Marandola Mechanical, Warwick, R.I., was elected senior vice president and treasurer. Michael W. Gossman, chairman and CEO of Midwest Mechanical Contractors Inc., Overland Park, Kan., was elected vice president and assistant treasurer.

    Elected to the board of directors were: Lonzo Coleman, president of Coleman Spohn Corp., Cleveland, Ohio; Kathy Crosby, vice president of Harding Mechanical, Salt Lake City, Utah; and Mike Olinger, president and CEO of J.H. Kelly, LLC, Longview, Wash.