Sheet Metal & Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association


Business Management University Prepares Attendees for Success

Mar 11, 2020

BMU IMG_2445 502x600What are the key steps necessary to be a successful contractor? At the sold-out Business Management University, held March 1-5 in Tempe, Arizona, attendees received a crash course in how to run a successful sheet metal and HVAC business.

SMACNA president Angie Simon kicked off the week-long program by discussing her involvement in SMACNA and how she began her career in the sheet metal and mechanical industry. She was immediately followed by Thomas Shleifer, Ph.D, consultant and former professor at Arizona State University, who presented on the Contractor’s Survival Guide. “There are no bad projects,” said Schleifer. Project successes and failures are due to management decisions alone. Schleifer also spoke on the successful contractor of the future where he noted that “successful contractors will be profitable in good markets and bad markets.” 

Presenter Stephane McShane, a director with Maxim Consulting Group, followed with an in-depth review of effective change order management, including modules on recognizing, preparing, and pricing a change order, how to quantify productivity loss, how to negotiate a change order, and managing related risk.

BMU IMG_1778 600x400Why do contractors fail and what are the characteristics of stable contractors? In his session on Surety Issues, Mike Russell of Federated Insurance discussed how to use bonding to your competitive advantage as well as the three C’s of surety – capital, capacity and character.

On Tuesday, participants heard from Ben Schlinsong of SMACNA premier partner Daikin Applied on HVAC/service solutions for the public sector.  He was followed by John Murdough, CPA, a partner with Henry+Horne, who spoke on financial management. Brian Dwyer of FMI presented on the ten basics of project planning, as well as productivity and profitability, billings and cash flow, and standards and best practices.

What are the four keys to successful negotiations? How do you achieve collaborative outcomes in negotiations? On Wednesday, Stephane McShane spoke on business negotiations and the communication skills necessary to resolve conflict. Participants were split into groups to work on a mock change order negotiation. Each group had a general contractor, owner, and subcontractor and had to come to an agreement in ten minutes.  Thomas Schleifer followed with his session on practical business planning. Topics covered included decision making vs. business planning and the elements of a marketing plan, operations plan, and financial plan.

BMU IMG_2456 502x600Increasing your efficiency and identify time wasters were two of the topics covered by presenter Kevin Dougherty. During his time management session, he also focused on how to be proactive and when to delegate. During the final session on Thursday, Dougherty presented on a wide range of leadership topics, including recruitment, self-management, motivating people, controlling conflict, and management transitions.

Business Management University is usually held in March every year. SMACNA members interested in attending or sending employees to a future edition of BMU can contact Bridgette Bienacker, SMACNA’s Director of Business Management and Membership.