SMACNA Board member Gary G. Luthe Sr., president and CEO of Luthe Sheet Metal Inc. in Cherry Hill, N.J., embraced the sheet metal trade from the bottom up. Gary started as a young apprentice and worked his way through the trades to build his own successful sheet metal business.
His first exposure to the industry came when he started taking a high school drafting class and worked summers in a sheet metal shop. After graduation, he applied for apprenticeship and took night courses in sketching, computer-aided design, and estimating. In 1993, he built a shed in his backyard, turned a room in his house into an office, and Luthe Sheet Metal Inc. was born.
Two years later, he moved his growing business to an industrial park and it grew from there. Today, about 60 percent of his company’s work comes from the education and medical markets; 30 percent comes from high-rise apartments and condominiums; and 10 percent comes from industrial construction projects. The shop is high tech with a full coil line and computer-driven plasma burner.
Luthe was elected to SMACNA’s board of directors in October and is serving a four-year term. We asked him to share his thoughts on leadership, life, and the ideas he would like to share with others.
- The best business advice you ever received: Understand the scope of work. Get it in writing.
- Advice you give newly-hired employees: Never say, “I can’t do that.”
- Your secret to running a successful business: Focus on the projects—beginning, middle, and end.
- The most rewarding part about being in this industry: Seeing where we came from when we first started, compared to where we are today. And working with my son as we look toward the future of the industry.
- The most challenging: Closing out and getting the final payment.
- The technology you are most excited about: Using mobile devices like iPads to send information to our guys in the field in just a second.
- My hero: My father. He made me learn my trade from the bottom up. He told me to learn something new every day.
- Something you are looking forward to: The next tool that’s going to be in our tool box.
- Your favorite time of day: 5 p.m. on Friday.
- Your favorite quotes: Get the right guy for the right job. Honor our bodies, sharpen our minds.
- Some of your outside interests: Fishing on the shore, playing golf, traveling with my wife and kids.
- Sports team you cheer for: Philadelphia Eagles (even before Super Bowl LII).
- Your first car: 1964 Rambler.
- You are most proud of: My kids Gary Jr., Victoria, and Daniel.
An active leader in advancing the industry, Luthe has held nearly every position within the Sheet Metal Contractors Association of Philadelphia and Vicinity (SMCA) chapter, including president, vice president, and secretary treasurer.
Luthe currently serves on the chapter’s board of directors and as chair of the SMCA Director and Officer Nomination Committees. He co-chairs the JATC Trustees and is on the local Joint Adjustment Board. He also chairs the Northeast States Council of Sheet Metal Contractors, an independent association of contractors that is affiliated with SMACNA.
He has also been a trustee for the Industry Fund, the Local No.19 Scholarship Fund, and the Brotherhood, Unity, and Dignity Fund; has chaired the chapter’s Safety Committee; and has served on the Sheet Metal Industry Advancement Committee (LMCC) and the Negotiation Committee.
On the national level, Luthe has served on SMACNA’s Director Nominating Committee and as chapter councilor to SMACNA’s Council of Chapter Representatives.
To advance the industry and get involved in SMACNA committees, members can visit smacna.org and go to “Board/Committee Application Forms” on the “About Us” webpage.