Sheet metal & Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association

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CEO: Embracing new strategic initiatives

Nov 20, 2017

SMACNA’s Chief Executive Officer Vince Sandusky addressed contractor members during the association’s 74th Annual Convention in Maui on Oct. 25. Following is his speech at the annual business meeting.

A39A6610Thank you for the privilege of sharing some of my observations about SMACNA and how we can continue to be of value to you and your businesses.

Last year I spoke about three things:

  • The formation of the Construction Employers of America (CEA) to give a greater, consolidated voice to the issues facing union contractors

  • SMACNA’s new online subscription service that provides members free, fully searchable access to its technical standards and manuals, and

  • Publication of an update to the New Horizons Foundation’s “Sheet Metal and HVAC Industry Futures Study” as a lead-in to updating SMACNA’s strategic plan.

My quick follow-up is that the CEA is meeting or exceeding objec

tives. CEA is regularly quoted in business industry publications on issues affecting the construction industry. We are source of solid information about the signatory contractors’ contributions to job creation, training opportunities and economic expansion.

SMACNA’s technical manual online subscription service is growing in member usage. And, based upon user feedback, we’ve been able to enhance the service over the course of the last year. If you are not using this free service, I encourage you to check it out on the website.

And, the work developing an updated set of strategic objectives for SMACNA was completed at the July meeting of SMACNA’s Board of Directors. The Board agreed upon four objectives that will have an impact on both the environment in which you compete and your business themselves. I’d like to describe each of them to you.

First, building upon an exercise in which the Board adopted a statement of the purposes, practices, and policies for SMACNA’s labor relations activities, the Board set as an objective a more coordinated and proactive approach to all dealings with SMART. That means developing a set of priority issues specific to increasing contractor competitiveness to pursue with SMART.

SMACNA has dozens of volunteers that interact with SMART on joint trusts, committees and task forces. So, this objective also envisions institutionalizing a system that keeps SMACNA leaders and those volunteers up-to-date on SMACNA’s current issues, policies, and objectives so that everyone speaks with a consistent voice in pursuit of those priority issues.

Second is related to manpower. Wherever I and SMACNA officers travel on SMACNA business we consistently hear that contractors are facing critical manpower shortages. And not just at the craft level. They are finding it difficult to get enough qualified supervisors, engineers, project managers, and estimators to take advantage of all the opportunities there are out there right now for work. And so, the Board directed that SMACNA undertake an initiative to assist members with attracting and retaining critical human resources.

We are already moving forward with identifying successful non-traditional craft recruitment strategies so that we can share those across our chapter network. SMART is interested in strategically partnering with us — and that is great because we will need to work together to have a true impact.

On the non-craft side, among other strategies, we will establish a network of SMACNA student chapters that will expose young people to the opportunities this industry provides and offer a path to pursue them.

Recognizing the importance of effective communications, but also how difficult it is for your message to be heard in this age of an overwhelming flow of emails and social media, the Board directed that a communications infrastructure be established with the goal of improving awareness of SMACNA programs and increasing member engagement.

Our first step, already underway, is to create a stand-alone communications and marketing group headed by an experienced senior communications professional. That position will be at the executive director level, reporting directly to me and a peer to our executive directors of labor relations, technical services, and business management and market sectors. We have a lot of constituencies to serve and influence — not only our own members and chapters, but SMART, standards users, code bodies, design professionals, legislators, regulators, and related press. Adding a seasoned communications executive to our team of highly respected industry subject- matter experts will add significant horsepower and leverage as we communicate the value of SMACNA and you, the SMACNA contractor.

Finally, the SMACNA leadership recognizes the important role that our chapters play in bringing services to our members. Partnering with our chapters to achieve these objectives is a no-brainer. Those opportunities include:

  • Coordinate messaging in communications to members and others
  • Engage with chapters on forming relationships with local colleges and universities
  • Partner with chapters in supporting activities and benefits of belonging to a student chapter
  • Establish a dynamic information exchange on craft recruitment techniques and their effectiveness.

We would also like to explore what additional professional development opportunities we can offer to chapter executives and administrative support services SMACNA may be able to provide in the name of efficiency and cost savings to better serve our contractors.

We are all anxious to get moving on these initiatives. At last week’s Executive Committee meeting, the officers reviewed preliminary implementation plans and discussed priorities to take into the 2018 budgeting process. These will be a major item on the agenda for SMACNA’s Board of Directors in January and hopefully an ongoing subject of discussion with the Council of Chapter Representatives and at the Chapter Executives Institute.

I am excited about the opportunity these objectives present for SMACNA to remain relevant to you and provide a competitive edge in your business environment. I know, too, that SMACNA’s staff of 34 dedicated professionals have fully embraced the challenge. I am very proud of what they as a team accomplish on your behalf — and from your kind feedback, I know you are as well. Like me, they appreciate the opportunity to do good things for good people. We all thank you for that continuing privilege.