SMACNA and Its Members Can Accomplish Great Things By Working Together

SMACNA always has a busy first quarter. We hold many committee meetings, labor relations meetings and educational programs. 

Aaron Hilger

SMACNA always has a busy first quarter. We hold many committee meetings, labor relations meetings and educational programs. This year, I attended a few programs I did not participate in when I was a Chapter Executive. Mutual Gains Bargaining and Collective Bargaining Orientation are excellent programs with immediately helpful content. I encourage you to attend in 2025, especially if your collective bargaining agreement is expiring. I should have done so when I ran my chapters.

Carol Duncan talks extensively in her column about one of our best meetings — Partners in Progress. I am excited that this was one of the most widely attended Partners meetings ever. There aren't any secrets to a robust labor-management relationship. President Duncan gives you a few easy steps to follow, which I have done throughout my career. General President Coleman and I share many of the same passions and goals. We all hope that our example helps you solve problems and address challenges productively at the local level. Both SMACNA and SMART's national staffs are also available to help. Labor management relationships take work and constant nurturing. They are never free from conflict and are not defined by conflict. Instead, they are defined by what we share and our ability to work toward solutions.

As I read Carol's column, I was reminded of the tenants of serving leadership. My friend John Stahl-Wert taught me long ago to upend the pyramid — to put the base at the top. A leader's main job is ensuring his or her team has the things necessary to succeed. Leaders also do what is required to blaze the trail and remove obstacles from their employees' paths. We build a culture of accountability by raising the bar and ensuring our teams have the skills to perform at a high level. We focus on building on strengths like labor, technical services and government relations work. Finally, we run to a great purpose: to advocate for our members and meet the challenges presented in our evolving industry. The best labor and association leaders I have worked with operated as serving leaders, even if they did not know they were. I see so much of the same commitment in our daily work with our partners. Like Carol, I am excited to see what we can accomplish together.

Like all membership organizations, SMACNA is evolving around our strategic plan. During the first part of the year, we resourced our education department with additional staff and organized it under Linda Jennings. We are excited about growing programming for you and welcome your thoughts and ideas. Other significant projects include our ongoing AMS system update and new website update.

Finally, it seems almost too early to write about it … but convention registration opens April 23rd. We expect a sell-out in Palm Desert and have made some exciting updates to the program. Monday will feature a new after-party with live music. This event has replaced PAC night, but don't worry; there will be many opportunities to support the PAC throughout the convention. So, plan a great dinner with friends on Monday, but be back in time to have fun with your fellow members. Based on your overwhelming feedback, we have also added breakfast for the days that did not have it in the program. These enhancements will make the convention even more fun than last year.

I am looking forward to seeing you there.  

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.