Sheet Metal & Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association


President’s Column: Mentoring is a win-win opportunity for everyone

Jan 13, 2017

lansdell_152x200Over the years, I’ve had quite a few mentors—my dad, a former employer, a SMACNA chapter executive, and former SMACNA President Phil Meyers. They all played invaluable roles in my life and career. Now is my opportunity to focus on the importance of mentoring and encourage the growth of this life-changing support system.

January is National Mentoring Month and I hope you will think about how businesses and individuals can work together to increase the number of mentors and ensure positive outcomes for our young people and fellow employees.

Last month I wrote about how in Indiana, our chapter executive started a program called Contractor School. We invited all local apprentices in for two days of life-skill classes, plus practical advice from SMACNA contractors. If your chapter would like to do something similar, the International Training Institute offers an Apprentice Mentoring Program Handbook to provide some structure to these meetings.

The book covers history, purpose, critical needs, benefits, and stresses industry demographics, retirement, and skill shortages: aka opportunities. Twenty locals already use this handy booklet as a guide. I encourage you to contact your JATC and get something started today.

I have discovered there are several ways to be a mentor: one-on-one in an informal setting, or formally through a corporate program, such as the one Angela Simon, president of Western Allied Mechanical in Menlo Park, Calif., conducts. Angie, SMACNA National’s 2017 vice president, has created an exceptional mentoring program where the interns are actively involved in a project from start to finish. I can think of no greater way to attract and recruit quality people than having a corporate mentoring program.

Another formal mentoring venue can be found through local colleges and tech schools. Our company, Poynter Sheet Metal, speaks twice yearly to the Building Construction Management Department at Purdue University, in West Lafayette, Ind. Our first presentation is an industry overview in a show-and-tell format. We bring in lots of our products that generate some fun discussions. We give an overview of the sheet metal industry and explain everything from ductwork, equipment, devices, and terminology.

Our second speaking opportunity is when we address a high-level budget and estimating class. We show them how to read mechanical prints and how our on-screen takeoff system works. This turns out to be a very practical and hands-on session.

One of my responsibilities as SMACNA President also is to share what I’ve learned over the years at SMACNA’s Business Management University this coming February. I look forward to meeting this year’s class and having yet another opportunity to be a mentor. I hope you will consider sending someone to this dynamic course of business and leadership lessons.

So, start the New Year in the right direction, get involved in National Mentoring Month and help raise the awareness for mentoring and encourage the rapid growth of mentoring in either a formal program or informally. Mentoring gives you a chance to change gears from the day-to-day grind, plus, it is fun. 


Joseph Lansdell
SMACNA President