Surrounded by palm trees and sandy beaches, contractors spent several days in late October exchanging ideas and attending sessions on business strategies, new technologies, legislation, and other important industry-related topics at the 70th annual Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA) Convention in Maui, Hawaii.

Interspersed with the informational presentations was live entertainment, including a performance by the band Human Nature as well as a visit from Tony award-winning actor Jason Alexander, who is best known for his role as George Costanza on the television series “Seinfeld.”

“I have attended approximately 20 SMACNA conventions and this one was very well attended, as are all of our Hawaii conventions,” said incoming SMACNA president Randy Novak. “It seems we are having some success in getting younger owners and principals involved, as I saw quite a few new faces.”

Feeling Good

Despite his busy schedule at the convention, Novak, who officially assumed the presidential office in Maui, said he still managed to attend some of the sessions and speak with contractors, who expressed a great deal of optimism. “Most people I talked to thought they were seeing some small signs of economic recovery in their areas,” he said. “They want their companies to be positioned properly, should an upswing occur.”

In addition to the new product showcase, which Novak said is always a big hit at the annual convention, numerous other sessions tackled subjects from new technology to innovative business ideas, new marketing opportunities, and industry-related legislation.

“Members use the convention for their benefit in different ways,” Novak said. “The feedback we received on the content and variety of the sessions was very good. Our mission is to create a competitive advantage for our members, and I am confident that there were lots of ideas, presentations, and tools that were available to help with that.”

Pension Reform

At this year’s convention, multiemployer pension reform stole the spotlight as the most pressing legislative issue for many SMACNA members. Dana Thompson, director of political affairs at SMACNA, cohosted a legislative update session to help update members on the latest developments in pension reform.

“This is one of the prime concerns that our contractors have, so they’re really interested in what’s going on up on the Hill,” Thompson said. “Our members are very engaged and concerned about this issue. It’s hard until we have a bill, though.”

Novak agreed that pension reform “will remain SMACNA’s No. 1public policy priority” for the time being. SMACNA contributed to and supports “Solutions Not Bailouts,” a report on multiemployer pension reform from the Retirement Security Review Commission of the National Coordinating Committee for Multiemployer Plans (NCCMP).

“The changes SMACNA is supporting represent a dramatic change in the ERISA [Employee Retirement Income Security Act] law with some hard choices to be made,” Novak said. “Right now, it appears everyone understands that the best way to create stability for multiemployer plans and the PBGC [Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.] is to put more tools in the hands of the trustees and the bargaining parties. Fortunately, there is interest in moving things along, and we expect a bill to be introduced soon. It is imperative to move the legislation before other contentious issues distract Congress.”

“It’s important to get it all done before the multiemployer provisions expire at the end of 2014,” Thompson agreed. “That’s an imperative.”

Recognizing Outstanding Members

In addition to hosting sessions on net-zero buildings, the use of mobile devices and apps in the field, and senior leadership success, SMACNA devoted a portion of the event to honoring its top-achieving members.

Carol Duncan, CEO of General Sheet Metal Works Inc., Clackamas, Ore., was recognized as the Legislative Contractor of the Year.

“The Legislative Contractor of the Year award is the highest legislative honor a contractor may earn within our organization. It is Carol’s outstanding political and policy leadership on behalf of SMACNA as chair of the Legislative and SMAC PAC committees that we honor her before our national convention,” said outgoing SMACNA president Howard Stine. “Carol has represented our industry to local, state, and national political and legislative leaders with distinction. Her efforts on Capitol Hill and with federal officials in Washington, D.C., have made a measurable impact in the policy arena for SMACNA and the industry.”

Wayne Peterson, chapter executive of the Toronto Sheet Metal Contractors Association, Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada, received the Petersen-Dunn award for Chapter Executive of the Year. The award is presented annually to the SMACNA chapter executive who has made a substantive contribution to his or her local association and to SMACNA.

David Finley, executive vice president of SMACNA chapters in Oklahoma City and Wichita, Kan., was recognized as the Chapter Executive Legislative Advocate of the Year. “David has been a political and policy leader on many issues for our association and for his members in Kansas and Oklahoma,” Stine said. “The Oklahoma and Kansas chapters’ efforts under Finley’s leadership have been impressive, and SMACNA is proud to honor him with this national honor.”

Finally, the New Horizons Foundation (NHF) received the SMACNA Contractor of the Year award, which is presented annually in memory of SNIPS magazine founder Ed Carter and his son, Nick Carter, magazine publisher and editor. “The New Horizons Foundation has received this award for its groundbreaking research projects that shed new light and insight into business operations and strategies for building a successful HVAC and sheet metal business,” Stine said. “The foundation has helped the industry evolve by advancing well beyond job site management into a sophisticated analysis of all the factors that affect success in this industry.”

SMACNA also presented a $5,000 check to A Keiki’s Dream, a Maui-based wish-fulfilling program that empowers local children in need by granting them a day of their dreams, during the annual convention.

A Plea to Members

In order for SMACNA to be able to help its members most effectively, Novak said the association needs its members to be involved in the organization and its initiatives.

“That’s how you get the most out of membership,” Novak said. “Be involved locally and nationally.”

Novak quoted President Theodore Roosevelt, who said: “Every man owes a part of his time and money to the business or industry in which he is engaged. No man has the moral right to withhold his support from an organization that is striving to improve conditions within his sphere.”

“As SMACNA president, I want to continue to build upon what my predecessors have started — it isn’t a one-year plan,” Novak said. “We have a lot of work to do in many areas, and it isn’t time to let off the gas, so to speak.”

SIDEBAR: SMACNA Elects New Board Members, Officers

SMACNA elected several new members to the organization’s board of directors at its 70th annual convention in Maui, Hawaii.

• Joseph R. Lansdell, president of Poynter Sheet Metal Inc., Bloomington, Ind., was elected as vice president of SMACNA’s Board of Directors;

• Angelo Iannucci, Bombard Mechanical, Las Vegas, was elected to the SMACNA Board of Directors;

• Alfred Leidner, Lewis and Lambert, Fort Worth, Texas, was reelected to the SMACNA Board of Directors;

• John E. Sickle Jr., Duct Fabricators Inc., Cleveland, was elected to the SMACNA Board of Directors; and

• Raymond W. Yeager, Ductmate Industries Inc., Char-
leroi, Pa., was elected to the SMACNA Board of Directors.

The organization also installed its executive committee at its annual meeting. The new officers are:

• President Randy Novak, Novak Heating and Air Conditioning Inc., Hiawatha, Iowa. Novak replaces SMACNA immediate past president Howard Stine, Charles E. Jarrell Contracting, Earth City, Mo.;

• President-elect Tom Szymczak, SSM Industries Inc., Pittsburgh, Pa.;

• Secretary/treasurer Guy Gast, The Waldinger Corp., Des Moines, Iowa; and

• Vice president Joseph R. Lansdell, Poynter Sheet Metal Inc., Bloomington, Ind.

SMACNA’s 71st annual convention and product show will be held Oct. 12-15, 2014, at the JW Marriott Hill Country Resort in San Antonio. For more information, contact SMACNA’s meetings and convention department at 703-803-2998 or visit

Publication date: 12/23/2013 

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