Sheet metal & Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association


President’s Column: Time to invest in your partnership with labor

Dec 11, 2017

Jack Knox 225x293pxDuring the Great Depression, my great-grandfather started our family business in Atlanta, when businesses were either failing or extremely unethical. One of his founding principles was “integrity.” A little integrity can go a long way in building a solid partnership and establishing mutual trust.

SMACNA and SMART’s upcoming Partners in Progress Conference, Feb. 13-14 in Orlando, Fla., will give us the opportunity to exhibit our integrity and work on improving our labor-management partnership skills. Experience has shown that contractors with successful labor partnerships can gain market share and improve working conditions even in very tough economic climates.

Meeting face-to-face with our labor partners outside of the typical workday pressures will enable us to look with fresh eyes and identify things we have in common. During this meeting we will devote constructive time to serving our common interests.

We’ll learn new ways to communicate with each other and discover new and possibly innovative ways to create work opportunities. Our newly acquired communication skills will teach us ways to handle our differences in a respectful manner. 

In Atlanta, my fellow contractors and I are part of a Labor Management Pilot Project with Mike Gaffney, respected labor relations consultant. It has been a positive experience, but it is a slow process. It takes a lot of small steps to reach common ground. We are looking forward to attending the Partners Conference and building on the foundation we’ve established so far.

Oftentimes, I challenge my children and my employees to be difference-makers in this world. I ask them, what they are doing to make a positive change in the community? How are they giving back? If positive change is going to happen, it must start with them.

I challenge you to answer these questions in relation to this upcoming Partners Conference. 

What are you doing to make a difference in the sheet metal and HVAC industry? What are you doing to give back?  If positive change is going to happen, it must start with all of us and our labor partners attending the Partners in Progress Conference. Plan now to attend and bring home best practices that will make a difference for your partnership.


Jack Knox
SMACNA President