SAN ANTONIO — The Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA) strives to create a competitive advantage for its members. Through its 2014 Annual Convention, held at the JW Marriott — Hill Country in San Antonio, the international association of union contractors accomplished that and much more.

The three day event, held Oct. 12-15, offered contractors an array of business development sessions, networking receptions, a new product trade show, industry forums, and more. And, it wasn’t all business as members hit TPC Oaks for a morning round of golf, shared a laugh with comedian Billy Gardell, and closed the event singing along with country superstar LeAnn Rimes.

“It’s a well-known fact that people do business with those they like and trust. Relationships formed from networking are the essential building blocks for success,” said Randy A. Novak, 2014 SMACNA president. “SMACNA’s annual convention served as a great setting to meet and network with people who provide this help.”

Creating a Championship Culture

The convention offered more than 20 unique educational and self-development sessions designed to provide the newest ideas, information, and solutions necessary to meet the specific technical and business management needs of sheet metal and air conditioning contractors.

Mark Storrs, an independent consultant, told contractors that organizational culture should be atop every business owner’s priority list. When asked to define culture, he rattled off a list of terms, including engagement, morale, absenteeism, retention, recruiting, performance, quality, customer satisfaction, and profitability.

“Culture is the water you’re swimming in every day. It’s set by the organization’s leaders as they determine what they value, what they invest in, and what they reward,” said Storrs. “If ignored, it’s a force the organization will be reacting to forever. If purposefully evaluated and targeted, a positive culture grants contracting companies a competitive advantage.”

To determine the exact culture a business is fostering, Storrs suggested administrators survey employees on their overall work environment, and, he cautions, the results may be astounding.

“In a lot of cases, this is the first time leadership will hear exactly what employees are thinking. There’s a tendency to say, ‘that’s ridiculous; things are fine; let’s move on,’ but, as leaders, you must not dismiss this data. This is what your employees are telling you about the company. You may not like it, but it’s the truth.”

Once this is done, the leadership team should analyze the data and prioritize a development plan.

“Do these assessments align with your organizational goals? The survey should help you determine what your employees are missing and what they want. You should create a realistic plan that purposefully moves the organization toward the preferred goals. These steps should include a mix of quick-hit changes and extended initiatives.”

Build Your Brand

Jo Miller, founding editor of and CEO of Women’s Leadership Coaching Inc., said if you’re the best-kept secret in your company or industry, it’s time to start telling others.

“You must make your value visible. People should recognize and reward the value you offer,” she said. “As an individual, you already have a personal brand. People who know you perceive you a certain way. They have impressions and opinions and know what you’re good at and what you’re not good at. They have a thought of who you are. But, those impressions often take place by default, not design. Create a brand by design, not by default.”

An outstanding brand is built on passion, desire, and demand.

“You need to find something you’re passionate about that your company and industry needs,” Miller said. “And, in order to have a successful career, you need to do something you enjoy. Find an area where you have a high skill and talent and deliver this service like no other can.”

In some instances, by working less, you’re doing more, said Miller.

“The workforce is full of capable people. Work doesn’t always speak for itself. If you are recognized solely as a hard worker, what does that attract? Hard work. Allocate 5 percent of your time to making your value apparent and visible. It may look very different at first, but spend a bit of your time not just getting your job done, but doing some of the things that make your value apparent,” she said. “Work hard on the right projects — those that are visible for both you and the company — and don’t be afraid to promote your accomplishments.”

Angela Simon, president, Western Allied Mechanical Inc., said sometimes you have to show that you’re not afraid to lead. “I established respect by showing that I wanted to learn. I said ‘I know you have been doing this a long time. Help me. Teach me.’ Within a year, all of the field guys were very comfortable with me. You need to be able to show that you’re strong.”

Election of New Leaders

SMACNA welcomed new leadership to its association during the convention. New officers include Thomas Szymczak, owner, SSM Industries Inc., Pittsburgh, who will serve as president. Guy Gast, president, The Waldinger Corp., Des Moines, Iowa, was named president-elect. Joseph R. Lansdell, vice president, Poynter Sheet Metal, Bloomington, Indiana, was named secretary/treasurer. Jack Knox, president, R.F. Knox Co. Inc., Smyrna, Georgia, will serve as vice president; and Randy Novak, president, Novak Heating and Air Conditioning Inc., Hiawatha, Iowa, will assume the role of immediate past president.

Five new members were promoted to SMACNA’s Board of Directors, including Craig Benson, Paramount Sheet Metal Ltd., Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada; Carol Duncan, General Sheet Metal Works Inc., Clackamas, Oregon; Todd Hill, Ventcon Inc., Allen Park, Michigan; Kevin Jones, Richards Sheet Metal, Ogden, Utah; and Anthony Kocurek, Energy Balance and Integration LLC, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Richard Rivera, president of Key Air Conditioning Contractors, Santa Fe Springs, California, received the SMACNA Contractor of the Year Award. The honor is given annually in memory of SNIPS magazine founder Ed Carter and his son Nick Carter.

“This year’s contractor is a seasoned pro who is addicted to sharing the good word about SMACNA and turning contractors into members,” said Novak.

Frank Battaglino, CEO of Metro Test & Balance Inc., Capital Heights, Maryland, 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, and it is for Frank’s outstanding political and policy leadership on behalf of SMACNA at the local, state, and national levels that we honor him at our national convention,” said Novak.

Thomas P. Keating, executive director of the SMACNA-Colorado chapter, received the Petersen-Dunn Award as Chapter Executive of the Year. The award is presented annually to the SMACNA chapter executive who has made a substantive contribution to their local association and to SMACNA.

“This year’s executive is no newcomer and there is no more deserving recipient of this year’s Petersen-Dunn Award,” said Novak. “Tom has cultivated one of the most positive local labor management relationships in the industry, negotiating some of the most innovative provisions in labor agreements to help his contractors compete in a very tough, competitive market.”

William F. Reardon, president, Carlin Management Services Inc., Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, and chapter executive of the Sheet Metal Contractors Association of Philadelphia and Vicinity, was recognized as the Chapter Executive Legislative Advocate of the Year.

“Bill has long been a legislative coalition builder, a SMAC PAC program enthusiast, and policy innovator on many issues for our association and for his members in the greater Philadelphia region,” said Novak. “He represents our industry with an energy level few can match. He has energized and engaged his members to take action on behalf of SMACNA’s priorities. His leadership has provided dividends for SMACNA, the chapter, and his members.”

Plans for the 72nd Annual Convention, scheduled for Sept. 27-30, 2015, at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colorado, are already underway. For more information, visit or call 703-995-4023.

Publication date: 11/17/2014

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