Sheet metal & Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association

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Feb 26, 2018


Pic - James HallSMACNA Board member: James E. Hall of Waukee, Iowa

New SMACNA Board member James E. Hall, president and owner of Systems Management and Balancing Inc., Waukee, Iowa, got his start as a project manager and then purchased his business thanks to a fortuitous meeting arranged by the SMACNA Central Iowa chapter. 

James wants to promote the sheet metal industry, and SMACNA, to the next generation. 

He says he would like to help educate the next generation about our industry and the opportunities that exist for them. He is also enthusiastic about sharing his knowledge, both business and technical, with the industry and by serving on a variety of SMACNA technical committees.

He shares his secrets to running a successful business and the most rewarding part of being in the industry below.

How did you get into the business?  

I took an HVAC class at Texas A&M University and really enjoyed it. I got my first job as a project manager with a mechanical contractor who transferred me to Denver, Colorado. There, I met an HVAC equipment supplier who became a great friend. He gave me the opportunity to move to Des Moines, Iowa, and sell HVAC equipment. I eventually bought Systems Management and Balancing in 2002 from a colleague I met through the SMACNA Central Iowa chapter. 

The best business advice you ever received:  

Company health is all about cash flow. 

The thing people notice first about your shop and office:  

The modern and open design and HVAC installation. Our office doubles as a training facility. The HVAC system is exposed for all to see and for ease of access. All variable air volume boxes, ductwork, air handling units, fans, coils and pumps are visible throughout the building to showcase all the components of the HVAC system and the work we perform. 

What is most rewarding about being in this industry?  

The relationships with manufacturers, contractors, owners, engineers, and professional associations. I am amazed at how our paths have crossed—and still cross—in our industry. I look forward to sharing these relationships with today’s youth to help promote and grow our industry. 

What is most challenging?  

The market is ever-changing, and the peaks and valleys of the economy make our workload scheduling and individual project scheduling a dynamic daily and monthly challenge. Also, servicing a large geographical area can get challenging at times. I’ve found nothing beats a face-to-face meeting when trying to sort out system and project challenges. 

What technology has changed your business?  

The internet and the communication protocols with the computing systems. Another industry change/improvement has been the use of variable frequency drives and ECM motors and direct drive motors. On fan systems, the elimination of sheaves and belts coupled with the flexibility of ease of fan speed change with the VFD and ECM motor allows for a more efficient TAB and Cx process. 

Your secret to running a successful business:  

Provide a team atmosphere and always let the team know no one is more important than anyone else. We all can help and learn from each other. That includes me! 

Your favorite mottoes:  

“Adapt or die” and “The glass is half full.” 

Who are your heroes, and why?  

My mom, dad, and sister. They all have provided a great foundation that helped form who I am today. 

What is something you look forward to? 

I always look forward to time with my son, daughter, and wife. Owning a small business takes a lot of personal time, so I always value family time.  

There is nothing better than: A day of golf, a fine cigar, and a Guinness.

Mr. Hall shares his technical knowledge by serving on a variety of SMACNA committees. They include SMACNA’s Technical Resource Committee, the HVAC Total System Air Leakage Task Force, the HVAC Systems Applications Task Force, and the NEMI/NEMIC Building Envelope Task Force. He also served as the SMACNA representative on the Indoor Air Quality Design Guide Committee for the ASHRAE Special Project 200 IAQ Design Guide. 

A leader in his local chapter, the Sheet Metal Contractors of Iowa-Central Iowa (SMCI), he credits former SMCI Executive Director Dennis Hogan with introducing him to the owner of Systems Management and Balancing, who gave him the chance to purchase the company in 2002. Mr. Hall has served as the SMCI state president, on the state board of directors, and as Central Iowa chairman. He was on the Scholarship Committee and served as chapter councilor to SMACNA’s Council of Chapter Representatives. He is active in supporting West Des Moines Community Schools and the National Kidney Foundation.

To get involved in SMACNA committees and task forces, visit smacna.org and go to “Board/Committee Application Forms” under “About Us.”