Sheet Metal & Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association


Developing Trail-Blazing New Products

Aug 14, 2018

An Interview with Dave Skelly of Johns Manville

Dave Skelly of Johns MansvilleSMACNA is pleased to welcome Johns Manville, a Berkshire Hathaway company, to its Premier Partner Program. Johns Manville is the sixth Premier Partner to join SMACNA’s program, which maximizes awareness and engagement between partners and members.

Johns Manville (JM) is a leading manufacturer and marketer of premium-quality building and specialty products. Founded in 1858, Johns Manville employs 7,500 people and operates 43 manufacturing facilities in North America, Europe, and China. JM services a wide spectrum of markets with the insulation and roofing industries including aerospace, automotive and transportation, air handling, HVAC, building, flooring, interiors, and wind energy.

Dave Skelly, director of sales for JM’s Performance Materials and Industrial Insulation Group (IIG), leads the field sales and account management organization responsible for mechanical, HVAC and industrial insulation products in North America.

Speaking from their Denver, Colorado, headquarters, Dave shared his thoughts on JM’s commitment to listening to contractors to help meet their needs.

What products and services do you offer SMACNA members?

While Johns Manville offers a wide range of insulation and roofing products as well as reinforcing and specialty fibers, our group specializes in insulation products and technology for HVAC and mechanical applications, for both the commercial and residential markets.

We try to pay close attention to the trends in the metal industry and what the implications are for our products. We then advise members on the most cost-effective ways to use them.

In the HVAC area, we provide several core products to sheet metal contractors including external duct wrap and internal duct liner.

For large projects, we offer external insulation, such as fiberglass duct wrap, for sheet metal duct work to help prevent the duct from losing energy. The ductwork is externally wrapped with duct wrap, which controls condensation and reduces energy loss. If a contractor does not insulate the duct, it may sweat and drip over the ceiling tiles.

The biggest product line we sell to sheet metal contractors is fiberglass duct liner, which is insulation that goes on the inside of sheet metal ductwork. It provides great thermal performance, and since it’s on inside, it provides good acoustical performance as well. The liner helps contain noise associated with air flow and cross-talk.

For contractors that need thermal performance and a reduction in noise (such as fan noise and other sounds that might be transmitted inside a building), duct liner is an excellent solution.

What challenges can you help our members solve?

Since we ship to distributors who sell to contractors, we don’t always get direct feedback from our customers. Therefore, we actively create opportunities to dialogue with contractors so we as a manufacturer can do a better job to meet their needs.

Our primary means to do this is are our Contractor Advisory Councils (CACs). These are meetings for sheet metal and HVAC contractors that we host throughout the year. We invite small groups of contractors to come speak to us in an open face-to-face forum about the challenges contractors are facing in the industry. We want to know what keeps them up at night, and what can we be thinking about to help them find solutions. These CACs give us the perfect opportunity to hear directly from the contractors, and give us a chance to respond and react to their needs.

From these meetings, we’ve developed new products, including a propriety trail-blazer for lining spiral ducts that’s better suited for round applications.

How can we work together?

We have a number of great relationships with major fabrication shops around the country.

Many years ago, there was no such thing as a fabricator. Today, there is a big trend in doing nothing but fabricating. By participating in trends like this, we ask members to keep an open door and an open mind to help us keep developing new products.

We welcome and encourage members to take part in our CACs. It’s also very useful if contractors invite us to help work with them in their shops. This experience can often lead to helpful tips for the contractor and it helps us develop new products and ideas; in some cases, it can even allow us to adapt our products to better meet their needs for a specific job, optimizing their processes and helping them save money.

What is the best advice you can give to our members?

A good company culture is almost unbeatable. Johns Manville is a family company. We provide products that keep your shop floor employees happy. The people on the shop floor are the ones who are winning for you each and every day. Value your employees. Value them and listen to them.

You can tell great contractors by the spirit of the employees on the shop floor. You can also tell when their opinions are valued and listened to by company management. They know their magic formula. It’s the culture in their shops that causes them to win. When you have the culture in your line employees as well as your management, you’re going to win market share. That’s your special sauce.

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