CHANTILLY, Va. - According to a representative survey of Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA) chapters nationwide, current trends indicate a positive outlook for man-hours in 2007. A few pockets of the country are reporting negatives, but on the whole, most areas report they are holding steady or are expecting increases. Most notably, many of the Northeast markets have rebounded.
The survey also shows several areas experiencing very slow but steady progress into the residential and light commercial market, while others have all but thrown in the towel in these two areas. One group has a new light commercial contract for 2007 and hopes that this labor and management partnership will result in new market share.
Others are seeing more green buildings being specified by city governments and school administrators. Health care is the primary driver in several major markets and fire damper inspection is proving to be a growth opportunity in some commercial markets. In several areas, architectural work is growing as a new market opportunity.
Tempering the positive man-hour predictions, however, are concerns about the National Pension Fund, competitiveness, escalating health care costs, getting paid in a timely manner, and replacing retiring skilled labor with low-quality apprentices.