Summers are always busy for SMACNA members and national staff. We visit multiple chapters to conduct education programs, attend board meetings and participate in great local functions. We are also winding down the collective bargaining season with our labor partners. Most areas have reached settlements and work continues as it should — productively, on time and within budget. This contrasts dramatically with the airline sector, domestic shipping providers and the film industry. These spaces have been hurt by the inability to reach agreements and create a mutually beneficial relationship with labor.
When I started at SMACNA, one of the things that I was happy about was our strong relationship with SMART. General President Joe Sellers and SMACNA staff created an effective working relationship to solve problems productively and address future needs. I wish Joe all the best in retirement. He was an excellent partner, and I am thankful I can call him a friend.
At the same time, I could not be more excited to continue to work with General President Mike Coleman and his team. SMACNA and SMART have become even closer in the last year and a half. During my time as a chapter executive and now SMACNA’s CEO, the national labor/management relationship has been one of mutual respect and trust guided by a single goal: to ensure the general welfare of our industry. General President Coleman and I don’t agree on everything. That is not a problem and should be expected, as some issues are fundamental to the labor-management relationship. We could waste all of our time on that 5 percent. Instead, we choose to focus on the 95 percent of things that we do agree on. We are focused on building new markets, staffing megaprojects, maintaining market share in areas with megaprojects, and helping locals and chapters who are experiencing challenges.
As our industry evolves, flexibility and resourcefulness are more crucial than ever. Communication and collaboration — not conflict — represent the most direct path toward our shared goals. As I write this, SMACNA and SMART leadership are traveling to Memphis to visit the Blue Oval project, in which several SMACNA members are involved. We intend to use this visit to learn about megaprojects and their associated staffing and training needs. We will meet these challenges together, and I look forward to seeing what we develop to move the HVAC industry forward.
Aaron Hilger is CEO of SMACNA, bringing more than two decades of executive association leadership to this role. Hilger is focused on building a stronger, more competitive environment for all SMACNA contractors.