PHCC President-Elect Ken Nielsen Talks State of PHCC, Association Health Plan

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For PHCC president-elect, Ken Nielsen, juggling many duties throughout the work week is a way of life. Nielsen, president of AccuAIre Inc. just outside Boston, keeps himself busy during the week running commercial jobs throughout New England. Established in 1987, AccuAire Inc., and its four-man company, has offered residential and commercial HVAC and hydronics installations and services.

Nielsen also has been very active with PHCC for nearly 20 years where has been chairman of the local PHCC trade show committee since 2011—which hosts PHCC of Massachusetts—the largest one-day local trade show on the East Coast, and through his involvement with the PHCC Educational Foundation and its HVAC Apprenticeship Committee, he has volunteered his time to supervise and judge PHCC HVAC apprenticeship contests over the years.

And more recently, Nielsen has busy been preparing for a Hot Work class, hosted by local wholesaler F.W. Webb, on how to pull a Hot Work Permit. Hot Work, according to OSHA, is any work that involves burning, welding, using fire- or spark-producing tools or that produces a source of ignition.

Mechanical Hub recently talked with Nielsen, prior to be sworn in as PHCC president.

How did you get involved with the trades?

NIELSEN: Since college didn’t work out as planned, I was initially introduced to the industry through my uncle who suggested the trades. I attended the Northeast Institute of Industrial Technology, and I worked as a service manager for 15 employees with a union contractor before starting AccuAire Inc. in 1987 with my wife Alice, serving as CEO and CFO.

What is one of your biggest initiatives as president?

NIELSEN: I want to get more HVAC contractors involved with PHCC. Actually, we have a lot of members that started out as plumbers and now do HVAC. That’s why I think putting more focus on HVAC contracting would be beneficial.

In fact, we have some new additions to the PHCC CONNECT show this year. The Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES) and the Radiant Professionals Alliance (RPA) will be co-locating and participating in educational seminars at this year’s CONNECT show.

Also, I would like emphasize the PHCC Academy—online plumbing and HVAC apprenticeships. We have the resources available through PHCC’s website. In fact, the Educational Foundation offers online plumbing and HVACR apprentice courses for apprentices who need a non-classroom based method of receiving their apprenticeship instruction.

What do you see as the biggest concern for the PHCP industry?
NIELSEN: The lack of skilled labor throughout the entire trades, regardless of whether it is plumbing and heating—carpentry, electricians, etc. Kids don’t want to enter the trades anymore. I’ve noticed that while judging contests and talking with apprentices, these students don’t even want to enter the trades upon graduation.

Also, women in the trades need to be recognized more. There are plenty of great, hard-working women in this industry that don’t get the same recognition as their male counterparts.

Anything currently in the works that is a hot issue?
NIELSEN: The Association Health Plans proposal, which PHCC supports. It is moving, yet slowly. There are currently 12 states that are trying to stop the momentum of an association health plan. (According to PHCC, a possible delay in implementation is a lawsuit filed by 12 states which, combined with other factors, may leave insurance carriers hesitant to participate in initial planning efforts, such as providing base line costs.) In essence, the new health plan could provide an option for small employers to offer competitive and affordable health benefits to their employees and increase the number of Americans who receive coverage through their employer.

With your experience industry, what advice what you give to others?
NIELSEN: Be honest with people. Don’t try to take advantage of them. I see that a lot—mechanics on commission that are offering things to customers that aren’t needed.

Also, enjoy what you do. If given the chance, I’d do it all over again.

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