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As Seasons Change, Opportunities Grow

   Aaron Hilger

Spring brings the construction season to the forefront, while a flurry of activity is emerging rapidly in Washington, D.C. In her column, Carol Duncan discusses our recent CEA meeting at length. It was a smashing success with great speakers and engagement with leaders who make our issues happen in Washington. Thank you to SMACNA's Stan Kolbe and our partner associations for putting together such a strong program. After CEA, we expect a very active schedule focused heavily on regulatory affairs.

Most collective bargaining agreements are finalized in the spring as well. As is typical, about 30 chapters have agreements that are in the process of being renegotiated. Most are going well with reasonable settlements consistent with the work and inflation context. 

In a positive sign, the June NJAB meeting was once again canceled this year. This result is a byproduct of SMACNA's and SMART's work at the national level, which is doing a lot to help parties settle their issues at the bargaining table. 

Megaprojects are, in part, driving all the labor work that chapters do. SMACNA and SMART are tracking 54 active megaprojects and an additional 130 in various planning stages. This unprecedented amount of work is an opportunity for our industry to grow. The labor projections, including Davis-Bacon and PLAs, make the work attractive to our members. Many of our members invest in people and facilities to take advantage of the opportunities. We also see many members work together to tackle large, complex projects.

Megaprojects are wonderful. At the same time, we must remember our core work that is part of the market year after year. Staffing this work is just as important as the work on megaprojects. We don't want to win and lose at the same time. I could not be more pleased with the work that SMART has done to help us meet the workforce needs for megaprojects and core work. We have successfully met the needs of every project so far. We are continuously learning, and as we complete more projects, we better understand how to recruit in diverse markets successfully. 

In addition to all the legislative and labor work, spring also ushers in our convention registration. Registration opened in April, and demand has exceeded the demand for registration in the last three years. I could not be more excited about our offerings in Palm Springs this year. Informative education sessions, a new networking event on Monday evening, golf, a newly added pickleball tournament, and great entertainment are in store.

I look forward to seeing all of you there. 

To close on a personal note, spring also brought the triplets home after they successfully completed their freshman year. It seems like only yesterday that they were crawling around the house looking for their favorite toys. Enjoy the end of spring and the start of summer!  

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.