“Two of us fail when there’s a bad hire,” acknowledged Guy Gast, chair of the New Horizons Foundation (NHF) and former SMACNA president, speaking during the session “Managing the Talent Crisis and Measuring Customer Satisfaction: Two New Tools to Help Your Business” at SMACNA’s Annual Convention in San Diego.
Gast introduced the New Horizon Foundation’s upcoming resources scheduled for release in the near future. Many items currently in development include papers and educational opportunities covering ways to enhance manpower development and increase customer satisfaction. Also covered during the session was the development of a new Contractor’s Library.
Over the past year, the Foundation has been hard at work developing a tool that SMACNA members can use to increase the probability that the employees they hire are the right fit for their team. Brian Lines Ph.D., a professor from the University of Kansas, spoke about the white paper he is writing for the Foundation to help companies faced with talent demands.
“Using personality and aptitude assessments will enable SMACNA members to hire the right people,” said Lines. He went on to add, “The assessments will also help identify existing talent and predict the likelihood of their success as opportunities become available. This NHF product will help SMACNA members retain talent and grow employees to achieve their maximum potential.”
Using Performance Metrics to Stand Out
In addition, to help SMACNA members stand out from their competition, Jake Smithwick Ph.D., of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte is working on a customized performance research tool that SMACNA members can use to compete against low-bid construction. It will help educate real estate owners who do not understand how to recognize and evaluate performance and quality, and, as a result, select less-qualified bidders.
Using this New Horizons Foundation tool, SMACNA members will include independently verified performance metrics for their company into their proposals. These ratings will include satisfaction scores for the company and their staff from previous customers.
Using this rating system, a contractor will be able to say, for example, that their company has a 98 percent customer satisfaction rating on 15 similar health care projects. In an increasingly competitive market, this could be a tool that helps SMACNA members close the deal regardless of where they fall on pricing.
New Contractor’s Library of Knowledge
Years of sheet metal and HVAC industry business research are being compiled by the New Horizons Foundation into an easily searchable and assessable Contractor’s Library. When it’s completed early next year, members will be able to easily navigate this resource to find a New Horizon Foundation research study or white paper on a host of strategic and operational issues.
Dr. G. Edward Gibson Jr. Ph.D., a professor at Arizona State University. guided the convention audience on a tour through the library’s information index and explained how to use it as a resource in making smart business and project decisions.
Mounir El Asmar Ph.D., co-director of the National Center of Excellence on SMART Innovations, also at Arizona State University, explained that over the years, the Foundation has developed more than 40 research projects and published numerous research papers, which are all available for SMACNA members. “The issue is some may not be aware of this resource, some may not be able to find them very easily,” he said.
Dr. El Asmar is leading the project that is studying the NHF’s available research products and organizing them into the Contractor’s Library of Knowledge. With this extensive database, any SMACNA contractor can search the library and find the desired subject matter to help contractors build and grow their businesses.
The New Horizons Foundations works with contractors and academic institutions to commission and conduct applied research that can be used by SMACNA members and the HVAC and sheet metal community.