Sheet Metal & Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association

From the President: Forward-Thinking Approaches

Jack Knox

As you read through this month’s issue of SMACNews, you may notice a few stories focused on the industrial market sector. What you may not have noticed is that each SMACNews issue now explores a different theme, usually focused around the cover story subject. Recently, SMACNews has explored the architectural sector in June and the topic of health and safety in July’s edition.

As you peruse this issue, you will notice the diversity of industries that fall within this sector. While the issue can only touch on a few, many contractors working in the industrial sector face diversity all the time. This vast sector encompasses automotive, pharmaceutical, chemical, aerospace, data centers, alternative energy, wastewater plants, and nuclear energy to name a few.

As I read through this issue—and the issues before it—I am always amazed at the innovation and forward-thinking approaches many of our members exhibit. I usually find most contractors in our industry are focused on building successful systems that deliver comfort and provide a healthy environment for people visiting or inhabiting the space.

From this issue, I am more aware of the unique perspective that industrial sector contractors have as they approach a new job. Like dust for instance. I was interested to read about the inherent dangers and complexities of industrial dust and how it could serve as fuel in the event of a fire or explosion—in fact, I have had first-hand experience in dealing with a fire in a dryer shaft as a result of the combination of several elements of the explosive pentagon (read the article to learn this term). I know the importance of installing dust collectors, knowing they can actually save lives in industrial and commercial settings. As Scott Vidimos of Vidimos Inc. in East Chicago, Indiana puts it, he likes the conversation surrounding combustible dust collectors because it positions his company as a problem-solver in addition to being a contractor.

Another sub-sector in the industrial space prioritizes technology “comfort” over people comfort. I understand that SMACNA contractors working in the data center space hear clients talking about keeping server rooms at optimal temperatures for the equipment, not the people. Servers providing huge internet connections between carriers or pushing content to millions of viewers generate a lot of heat and require significant amounts of reliable and effective cooling to keep them functioning 99.999 percent of the time—a guarantee most internet service providers make to their customers. HVAC contractors are more than happy to meet the demands of clients by installing higher performance systems.

Speaking of increased demands, SMACNA contractors have their own list of demands and contingency plans when it comes steel tariff issues. Contractors across all sectors have been impacted and are looking at a variety of remedies to cover sudden increases in sheet metal pricing. SMACNews has taken an in-depth look at the effects of steel tariffs on different customers including yours truly. I think you’ll find our comments spot on. Enjoy.


Jack Knox
SMACNA President