Sheet metal & Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association


Saying Goodbye to a Friend


Bob Gawne x225

SMACNA lost one of its best friends last week. Former SMACNA Board of Directors member Robert Gawne passed away unexpectedly on Friday, Sept. 14. Bob was the owner and CEO of Stromberg Metal Works, of Beltsville, Maryland. He was incredibly active in SMACNA, often working behind the scenes to assist the national Association develop a host of products that benefitted the entire membership.

His involvement in SMACNA began in the mid-seventies where he contributed to rewriting one of SMACNA’s first manuals, the Low-Pressure Duct Construction Standards. His firm went on to provide hands-on, practical technical support in revising SMACNA’s flagship manual, HVAC Duct Construction Standards-Metal and Flexible.

He provided invaluable assistance with a New Horizons Foundation study that required him to open his shop to researchers so they could identify and measure risks during the bidding and construction process. He also encouraged his employees to participate with SMACNA national staff on Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) task forces.

Mr. Gawne and his firm were always available at critical times during the legislative process to testify on Capitol Hill and voice SMACNA’s concerns on such issues as ergonomics and general contractor accountability. Over the years, several U.S. Presidents, one U.S. vice president, and numerous members of Congress toured his facility that specializes in metal design, fabrication, and installation.

Former President Barack Obama introduced the expensing tax credit as part of his tax bill at Stromberg Metal Works. Former President Bill Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, and Labor Secretary Robert Reich announced a reinvented approach to achieving worker health and safety in the workplace at Mr. Gawne’s shop.

He won almost every award the association offers: the SMACNA Contractor of the Year in 2004, the Legislative Contractor of the Year in 2011, and Career Achievement Recognition in 2016.

Read his full obituary here.