SMACNA’s chief executive officer, Vince Sandusky, addressed contractor members during the association’s 65th annual convention in Maui, Hawaii, on Oct. 22. Following is his speech:
Good morning! I am very pleased and excited to be addressing this group for the first time as SMACNA’s executive vice president. Because this is my first time before many of you, I would like to briefly give you a sense as to why I took on this responsibility, what I have found since coming on board, and what we might accomplish together for SMACNA over the near term.
Throughout the construction industry, and even the entire association world, SMACNA enjoys a well-deserved reputation for being a quality organization effectively addressing the needs of its members. So, it was a no-brainer to say “yes” when asked if I was interested in the position.
Since being here, I have found nothing to cause me to question that reputation. While not downplaying the role played by SMACNA’s volunteer leaders, I have to extend kudos to my predecessor, John Sroka. He left this organization in great shape. It is financially secure with an efficient administrative structure and an effective professional staff that has a customer service ethic second to none. I hope to, at a minimum, not screw that up, but also to build that asset base.
More importantly, SMACNA has a vibrant and committed volunteer core, not only at the highest levels of leadership, but with the 280-plus people serving on the 60 committees, task forces, and trusts.
And all of those strengths will have to be drawn upon in order to address the rapidly changing business, financial, and environmental situations that are affecting your businesses. Many of you have seen and read the recent study from the New Horizons Foundation on probable future scenarios for the industry. And if you haven’t read it, I urge you to do so as soon as you can. That study paints a picture of a challenging future—one involving technological developments, changing labor-force requirements, shifting consumer demand, and with much to consider about business risks and potential rewards.
And this, to me, is an opportunity for SMACNA to reinforce its value to you. SMACNA will not shy away from tackling the issues the study identifies and will do everything it can to help prepare you for what lies ahead.
The SMACNA Board has authorized a comprehensive strategic planning exercise to assure that SMACNA keeps pace with the needs of its members as the industry evolves. Every one of you will have a part in that process. Some will take part in interviews and focus groups while all of you will be able to provide input through a member survey.
While I am confident that the planning process will identify an appropriate course of action for the organization, we must also address and nurture our other assets—in particular our industry partnerships—because we can’t be successful acting entirely on our own. SMACNA’s main partnerships are in three areas: 1. Those that address political, legislative, and regulatory issues affecting your business; 2. Those that address labor management issues; and, 3. Those that improve the efficient delivery of services to, and the two-way information flow, with its members.
I believe SMACNA has the best government relations operation in the construction industry. The policymakers in Washington know our staff and use us as a resource. SMACNA’s success record on issues is strong and our members back up our ideology and priorities with an effective PAC to influence the politics. That won’t change. Neither will our commitment to making the most out of the partnership with the Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association. No other industry partnership has the ability to immediately and dramatically impact your profitability and competitiveness. Nurturing that relationship and doing what we can to make sure the benefits negotiated nationally are translated into local action remain a high priority.
And that local action has to come under the purview of SMACNA’s chapters. SMACNA must make sure it has the most open, cooperative, and productive relationship with its chapters as possible. It makes good sense, not only to most efficiently deliver services and to give and get feedback, but also it maximizes the contractors’ investment. When the local and national associations are pulling together in a coordinated fashion, greater gains are forthcoming.
Improving the national-chapter relationship is a personal priority for me—as is encouraging constant feedback from every corner of the association. If SMACNA is to play an effective role in staying ahead of industry changes and influencing the business environment to your advantage, there must be strong two-way communication. I know we can push information out, but we need to get it back, too. Letting your leadership know when we are right or when you disagree, and why, is critical.
To further encourage that communication, at the last Council of Chapter representatives meeting I gave out my cell phone number with an invitation to call anytime. This offer generated three reactions:
- The first was: “Are you nuts?”
- Second, there were a half dozen calls made to my cell phone at the next break—presumably testing to see if I gave out the real phone number.
- And then there were the expressions of appreciation and pledges of support.
The latter is most important. It shows a commitment to the industry and association as well as the recognition of the importance and value of SMACNA. From a staff perspective, we take that quite seriously and work every day at making and keeping SMACNA your valued industry partner. We appreciate the opportunity to serve and look forward to hearing from you frequently.