The History of RACCA
RACCA’s original members began meeting as early as 1949 to discuss mutual problems and to develop a coalition of contractors that might take action on industry issues through solidarity. The original association was named West Coast RACCA and among it’s original charter members: Howard Frankland, W.B. Haggerty, Otto Krause, James Griffin, George Durant and J. Arthur Turner, Sr. The original group of approximately 12 contractor members met on a weekly basis for a number of years.
In 1956, the group received a chapter charter from the national organization-the Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Contractors Association. This affiliation continued until 1965, at which time the local organization incorporated as a not-for-profit Florida corporation.
During the 50’s and 60’s, the group worked for solutions on diverse issues including: Fair bidding practices; Unfair distribution practices by manufactures; Training of skilled workers and early mechanical codes. The association was primarily responsible for formulating the original City of Tampa Mechanical Code, Chapter 13A, in January 1963. This code was later adopted by Hillsborough County with only minor amendments.
In 1966, RACCA counted 20 contractor members and began allowing suppliers to join as associate members. In October the association hired its first ever Executive Director, C.J. “Jim” Dillard. By 1969, the Association had adopted the logo/insignia used today. Membership had increased to 23 contractor firms and 22 associate members. This represented a “lion’s share” of suppliers and approximately 30% of the contractors in Hillsborough County.
Discussions and preliminary meetings took place in 1979 and 1980 between RACCA’s Board of Directors and the leadership of the Pinellas Heating & Air Conditioning Association (PHAA).The Pinellas Association was incorporated in April 1960. In 1980 the decision was made to merge the two associations into one organization; RACCA of Tampa Bay. Membership was increased to nearly 60 contractors and 50 associate members. The two boards of directors were inter-woven, and representation was established for both sides of Tampa Bay.
In 1983, during a 5-year, long-range planning session, the Board of Directors made a historic decision to purchase property and construct a facility for RACCA. The building was completed in early 1985 and dedicated on March 14, 1985. The structure housed RACCA’s staff and provided class and meeting room facilities.
By 1990, RACCA was heavily involved in education and at another long-range planning meeting, important decisions were made to develop Association-endorsed insurance programs. Membership in 1990 totaled 95 contractor members and 50 associate members. During the recession of 1991 and 1992, the Association membership continued to grow. At a time when most Associations were struggling to maintain membership levels, RACCA grew by 30%. Today, 150 contractor member firms and 45 associate members.
In 1996 the Association established a highly successful apprenticeship program to serve the industry training needs in the Tampa Bay area.
RACCA sold its property and building in 1999 in order to construct a larger facility on a larger piece of property. The new facility, located in North Tampa, was dedicated on December 14, 2001. The conference center inside the facility was named in honor of RACCA’s first president, Lester K. Olson.