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ACI California Hits Home

Posted by Macie Melendez on June 14, 2012
ACI California Hits Home
Publisher Tom White and Larry Weingarten, Home Energy author and water heater expert at the ACI California conference.

Last week I had the pleasure of attending another wonderful ACI conference filled with knowledgeable presenters and spirited conversations. Even better for me, the conference took me back to my hometown of Sacramento, California. My colleagues attended the conference on its opening day (see some of their wonderful pictures on our Facebook page) and I represented Home Energy on day two.  

As most of you know, a day at an ACI conference is filled with educational sessions, one-on-one meetings, hallway run-ins, and spontaneous conversations at the lunch table—all of which equal a great deal of inspiration for our community. Because I can’t choose exactly which portion of the day left me feeling energized and excited about new stories and new initiatives, the following is quick conference run-down.

I began my day (admittedly a few minutes late) to the 7:15 am Women in Home Performance breakfast. The tables were filled with women, and a few men, who came to support the new ACI initiative that aims to promote women’s talents in a male-dominated industry. We went around the room all stating what we wanted to see from this initiative. Overwhelmingly, people wanted a place to find balance, support, and networking opportunities. Amy Fazio of ACI and Amy Beley of ICF International led the discussion and asked for women leaders who may serve as future ACI presenters. Input is greatly appreciated so if you have any ideas, feel free to share them on the organization’s LinkedIn group.

Next, I attended an educational session titled “How to Profit From Distressed and Foreclosed Properties,” which was presented by Manly Dahn, Jack Frost, Bruce Mast, and Larry Weingarten. They discussed the rehab and resell process and shared best practices and ways to overcome the two biggest obstacles we all face: time and money. One of the presenters shared a formula that I found interesting: knowledge + implementation + timeliness = effectiveness. And isn’t effectiveness the name of the game across home performance?

Next up, I caught the end of Linda Wigington’s presentation, “Achieving Deep Reductions through the Thousand Home Challenge.” She shared case studies and examples of a batch of homes that currently qualify for the Thousand Home Challenge and also announced plans for a soon-to-be web-based application that will make participation a bit easier. (Visit the Thousand Home Challenge group on Home Energy Pros for updates and more info.)

Before lunch, I also caught Bruce Manclark’s talk on “Ditching the Ducts and Moving to a Furnace-Free Home,” which proved to be enlightening as I learned about the nearly mistake-free installation process that ductless heat pumps bring to the table. Bruce also shared a motto of his: “Make comfort, not war,” which made me both smile and think to myself, “Hey, that’s a great future article title…”

Lunch flew by with friendly conversations and I continued the afternoon of learning at a presentation titled “Home Performance Contractor Business Models Worth Stealing” that was put on by a panel of business owners and leaders including Jeff Cecchin, Mark Fischer, David Price, Ori Skloot, Ed Thomas, and Dan Thomsen. The group answered questions about the average price they charge for energy audits (which is about $300), and shared bits of wisdom from their personal experience. Some of my favorite pieces of advice were “I’ve never regretted firing someone too early…only too late”; “The quickest way to lose your business is to lose your quality”; and that the biggest customer obstacles for home performance companies to overcome are “no trust, no need, and no hurry.”  

The day ended at the closing plenary “California Programs: The Road Ahead” with a panel of representatives from local utility companies. They shared news and updates that included a technical assessment committee for PG&E and a new pool pump measure for SMUD—both of which made the room applaud.

The next ACI national event will take place April 29 – May 3, 2013 in Denver, Colorado. You can find more details and submit proposals for presentations here.

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