SMACNA was well represented this year in Orlando at the 2020 AHR Expo, the world’s largest event for the heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration sector.
Thousands of attendees and exhibitors came together from across the globe at the expo from February 3-5 to network, learn about new developments and best practices, and see the latest technological innovations in the industry. SMACNA’s exhibit booth attracted large crowds of visitors throughout the three days of the expo.
The SMACNA Technical Services department delivered four different presentations during the first two days of the event. Mark Terzigni, SMACNA’s director of engineering and technical resources, and Pat Brooks, a senior project manager with SMACNA, educated and entertained standing room only crowds at presentations that were well received by those in attendance.
- SMACNA HVAC duct construction standards for metal and flexible materials;
- HVAC duct design for high-performance air distribution systems;
- HVAC air duct leakage; and
- SMACNA HVAC duct construction standards for flat oval tables.
Other highlights from the event included a panel discussion on current topics and trends in the HVAC industry hosted by SMACNA Premier Partner Johns Manville. In addition to Terzigni, roundtable participants included:
- Brennan Hall of Johns Manville;
- John Newland of Hercules/SPIDA; and
- Mike Bailey of Mestek Machinery.
Ignite Your Career Gets Early Premiere
Importantly, the event gave SMACNA an opportunity to preview its new workforce development program, Ignite Your Career, which formally launched in February.
The SMACNA booth included prominent igniteyourcareer.com signage, a video of key careers in the industry, and marketing handouts highlighting the earnings potential and the scope of work that takes place in the sheet metal and air conditioning sector. SMACNA’s message focused in-part on the opportunity to go through a debt-free, salaried apprenticeship that leads a career in which journeyperson can earn an average annual salary of nearly $75,000.
Students in attendance expressed interest in the program, offering a chance to test out SMACNA’s new tradeshow booth materials. Additionally, contractors, recruiters, members of the media and more stopped to talk with SMACNA President Angie Simon about growing concerns over a lack of skilled labor in the sector. Jeff Henriksen, SMACNA’s executive director of communications and marketing joined the conversation to share information on SMACNA’s new workforce development efforts.
The SMART Union also participated in the AHR Expo, one of the major industry events that it views as prime opportunities to recruit new members. The organization is incorporating more face time with current apprentices into its presentations. For instance, apprentices will attend the events and demonstrate how to build tool trays at the union’s booth.
“People just don’t know about apprenticeships anymore,” says Charles Mulcahy, an international representative for the SMART Union. “That’s kind of an old-fashioned thing for some people who didn’t grow up around the construction industry. It’s something that was done back in the dark ages.”
While some industry professionals want to see the apprentices’ skills in action, other attendees are looking for more information about working in the sector. Rather than speaking with SMART executives, Mulcahy says prospective recruits often prefer the opportunity to hear directly from the apprentices and newly minted union members themselves.
“It’s one young person talking to another young person in their own words about more than just the apprenticeship and their career as a sheet metal worker,” Mulcahy notes. “They’re interested in hearing about things like pensions and healthcare. They get to talk one-on-one, and that’s extraordinarily effective.”
Mulcahy points out that SMART Union apprentices who accompany the presenters also have the opportunity to tour the events to learn about the latest developments in the industry, such as new technologies. “That’s a good building experience for them and the union, too.”