With challenges come opportunities

SzymczakThomas 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 each industry issue, it became evident that with each challenge came opportunities. I left this meeting feeling optimistic because of the great resource all of these local industry leaders are for SMACNA. I was impressed with the commitment of the group who eagerly identified and worked on the issues instead of leaving it to someone else or throwing up their hands in frustration.

The relevant SMACNA committees and our Board of Directors will pour over the notes of these discussions and incorporate the suggestions into our work plan to address these issues head on.


Thomas Szymczak
SMACNA President