With challenges come opportunities

Thomas SzymczakAn enthusiastic group of chapter presidents and incoming presidents attended the SMACNA Association Leadership Meeting (formerly the President to Presidents meeting) last month in Dallas. They quickly got down to the business of sharing ideas and challenges among each other and their SMACNA national counterparts. After identifying more than 40 critical industry challenges, the group agreed to focus on six for further analysis and solutions. These were not necessarily the biggest issues, but they were ones the chapter leaders felt that SMACNA, the chapters, and the contractors have enough leverage and power to influence. They include: Poor design documents Shortage of skilled manpower in the project manager/supervisor ranks Adapting to new construction contracting methods/contracts (e.g., IPD – integrated project delivery) Revamp JATC programs to improve and streamline training Cost of fringe benefits Need for improved collaboration with SMART on Marketing (International Association of Sheet Metal Air Rail Transportation Workers) Even though some of these issues appear to be daunting industry problems, with a little help from SMACNA they can result in opportunities for our members. Take for example, the challenge of poor design documents. Trade contractors rely on complete and accurate designs when bidding projects in order to provide accurate bid pricing. As the quality of drawings deteriorates, the sheet metal/HVAC contractor takes on the lion’s share of coordination which can be an opportunity. Shifts to new collaborative contracting types such as Integrated Product Delivery more adequately define and assign project risks for participating contractors. Developing proficiency in IPD contracted projects could provide a source of competitive advantage for SMACNA contractors in the near future. Delving further into...

SMACNA introduces new Change Orders Guide

A must-have for contractors interested in compensation and survival Many factors can result in project changes. A poorly-defined scope of work or gaps in the scope may mandate corrective changes. Unforeseen conditions or delays related to the conduct of other parties may trigger significant changes in schedule or cost. A redesign can radically impact the scope. A subcontractor may go bankrupt and its work be reassigned to other project participants. SMACNA’s latest publication “Guidelines for Change Orders” is free to SMACNA members and $75 to non-members. A contractor’s biggest challenge is the inevitability of workplace changes and obtaining proper change orders. Handling a change order properly and getting paid is a big challenge, explained Rick Freeman, executive vice president, of Stromberg Metal Works, of the Washington D.C. metro area. “The HVAC ductwork contract drawings a contractor receives in a lot of cases have not been compared and coordinated with the structure to make sure there is sufficient ceiling space for these systems. In some cases this requires the HVAC ductwork contractor to go back and make the necessary adjustment to the systems to fit in the allotted ceiling space. As a result, the contractor becomes a problem-solver, record-keeper, communicator, and negotiator in order to receive compensation for this additional work.” SMACNA’s new publication gives contractors all the information they need to make a change order. “In addition, it provides the data necessary to sell the change order to management,” Mr. Freeman said. This 56-page guide is available free to members at the SMACNA bookstore. It will serve as both a useful reference for the experienced contractor and a training tool...