“Futurist” Lowell Catlett, Ph.D., will be the convention’s Sept. 25 opening session speaker.

When contractors convene at the 68th annual SMACNA convention this month in Colorado Springs, Colo., they will be surrounded by history.

The Sheet Metal and Air-Conditioning Contractors’ National Association heads Sept. 25-28 to the Broadmoor Hotel. The hotel, which opened in 1918, lies at the base of Pikes Peak, the highest point of the Rocky Mountains.

And the city of Colorado Springs, founded in 1871, has a rich history that SMACNA attendees can explore. But instead of looking backwards, SMACNA is looking to the future during its four-day event. It’s time to learn from the past and start pushing forward. That is why the association has built several educational sessions around future profits and productivity, as well as technology contractors should start using in the field.

SMACNA will kick off its event with a “futurist.” During the opening session at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 25, Lowell Catlett, Ph.D., will be the guest speaker. Catlett is dean and chief administrative officer at New Mexico State University’s College of Agricultural Economics, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. He will explain to SMACNA members where the economy is heading and what they can do in their businesses to stay profitable in the years to come.

Future profits will also be the topic for another special guest. SMACNA will welcome Thomas Schleifer, Ph.D., to its contractor lunch 12:15 p.m. Sept. 27. Schleifer’s presentation is called “Take Control of Your Financial Health.” According to Schleifer, contractors need to prepare for the economic recovery. He will explain how business owners need clean credit and sound finances in order to take advantage of the market when it turns around.

SMACNA will offer more than just special guests during the annual event. A product show at 6:30 a.m. Sept. 27 will give attendees the opportunity to see the latest products and technologies from manufacturers.

Contractor forums and educational sessions will also be an important part of the convention. Here is a rundown of the sessions that are planned for members. Times and dates for these sessions are subject to change.

Richard Flint will speak on surviving the rough economy Sept. 26.

Business sessions

At 8:15 a.m. Sept. 26 SMACNA will present:

• “Bouncing Back” with Richard Flint. Flint will aim to help contractors who have struggled with the current economy. He will offer a six-step process that will get business owners to bounce back. The session will also look at the “maze of crisis,” how contractors find their way out, and get back on track. Flint will also discuss the six fears that keep contractors and business owners from finding economic success. Flint’s presentation will repeat 2 p.m.

• “Boost Profitability by Defining Projects From the Client’s Perspective.” In this session from Ted Garrison, attendees will learn how to see jobs from the customers’ point of view. Garrison says contractors can learn to maximize their profits when they learn how to give customers what they are looking for. Garrison will discuss how to create a company brand, how to define a project for profitability and to focus a project on the client. This session will be repeated at 10:15 a.m.

At 10:15 a.m. will be:

• “Best Practices in Leadership Selection.” Ron Magnus, managing director of Fails Management Institute, will present this New Horizons Foundation project. He will explain to business owners why selecting the right leader is important for the sheet metal and HVAC industry. Attendees will find out different approaches for selecting company leaders, and the tools they can use. The goal of the session is to show SMACNA members a process to select company leaders. This program will repeat later in the day at 2 p.m.

At 2 p.m. these are scheduled:

• Terry L. Mathis presents “Teaching Supervisors to be Safety Coaches.” This session will train supervisors on how to create a safe work environment. Supervisors will learn how to create safety strategies and get workers to adopt them.

• “Now That We Have Said ‘I Do’ What Next? Real Stories from the Frontlines of Integrated Project Delivery.”  This session may sound like a mouthful, but Patrick Duke, senior vice president KLMK Group Inc., will be talking about integrated project delivery. According to SMACNA, the session will take a look at what happens after you say “yes” to an IPD project. Project examples will be discussed, as well as how these projects are different that traditional delivery projects, and if they save time and money.

Business development sessions continue at 10:30 a.m. Sept. 27:

• Another New Horizons Foundation project will be presented by Jake Appelman from FMI. “Continuity and Transition Planning for HVAC and Sheet Metal Contractors” takes a look at how business owners can transition leadership in their HVAC and sheet metal company. Appelman will discuss exit strategies, leadership selection, and approaches to mentoring employees for key positions. This session will repeat at 2 p.m.

• “Policy, Politics and Construction” will examine the legislative issues that will be of importance to SMACNA contractors. Stan Kolbe, the association’s director of legislation, and Dana Thompson, director of political affairs, will give attendees an advanced look at the November 2012 elections.

•    “SMACNA Technical Standards & Sustainability - The What, Why and How” covers standards from SMACNA including the association new HVAC Air Duct Leakage Manual. Members will also learn more about the SMACNA HVAC Duct Test Construction Standards - Metal & Flexible, the newly revised Building Systems Analysis and Retrofit manual. Eli Howard III, executive director of technical resources for SMACNA, and Mark Terzigni, project manager of technical resources, will show contractors how to use these standards and manuals to boost expertise on projects.

Ron Magnus, managing director of Fails Management Institute, will present the results of a New Horizons Foundation-sponsored project Sept. 26.

New technology

SMACNA’s new technology sessions will get under way at 10:45 a.m. Sept. 27. Attendees will get to choose between “Wireless Individual Airflow Control” and “How Manufacturer’s BIM Contest Saves HVAC Contractors Time and Money.” The airflow control session will be presented by Pat Rossetto of Duro Dyne, while Bernard Tamasy of Technical Sales International will present the BIM content session.

At 2 p.m. Sept. 27 SMACNA members will have three technology sessions to choose from. Ron Shaver of Milwaukee Electric Tool Corp. will talk about cordless tool in the session “Cut the Cord - The Latest in Cordless Innovations.” “How Service/Specialty Contractors Can use Technology in a Tough Economic Climate” will be offered by Sage Software representatives. Richard Cravy from Ruskin Air and Sound Control will talk about dampers during “Fire Smoke Damper Application and Code Update.”

At 3 p.m. three more sessions will be presented. Mark Oxler of FastEst Inc. will discuss “Using Estimating Software for Design/Building Estimating.” Kipp Ivey of Trimble Navigation will talk about its products during “Trimble Field Link for MEP.” Maxwell Systems will show SMACNA attendees what they can do on the job with an iPad. A representative from the company will present “How to Use iPad for Profitable Project Management.”

For more information on SMACNA’s convention, call (703) 803-2980 or visitwww.smacna.org/events/annual convention.

SMACNA comes to historic resort

The 93-year-old Broadmoor, the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association’s choice to host its 68th annual meeting, is a legendary hotel in the Western U.S.

It opened June 29, 1918, aiming to be among the most beautiful hotels in the world. It had a curved marble staircase, large chandeliers and hand-painted beams and ceilings. In the next nine decades, it added and remodeled hundreds of rooms and public spaces. A $75 million renovation was completed in 2002.

Over the decades, the hotel has hosted several U.S. presidents, including Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, George H. W. Bush, Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford, as well as foreign dignitaries and movie and television stars.

The hotel offers numerous amenities and activities. But there is much more to Colorado Springs, Colo., besides the hotel. If SMACNA members have time to explore outside the hotel they’ll find the city offers much to do.

The city’s convention and visitors bureau says vacationing there is like “a stroll through a postcard.” Picturesque mountains and streams make it a year-round favorite destination. Hiking, fishing, horseback riding, dining and nightlife are all in the city or close by. Here are a few suggested leisure activities.

The American Numismatic Association’s Money Museum is located downtown. The association says coin collectors from the casual to the committed will enjoy its collection of rare money. Coins from ancient times, as well as more recent examples are displayed in the free attraction.

Within the surrounding Pikes Peak mountain region sits the Cave of the Wind. Described as an underground “mansion” of rooms and passages, its limestone walls took more than 200 million years to develop.

The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo claims to be America’s only zoo set in the mountains. Amazing views and more than 750 animals are among the attractions. Visitors have the chance to feed some of the zoo’s many giraffes by hand.

The Garden of the Gods is a registered national landmark. Awash in natural beauty, it offers hiking trails, horseback riding and rock climbing. Both it and the visitor center are free.

A short drive outside Colorado Springs are many Old West-themed attractions, including storefront casinos, former mining towns and other celebrations of the area’s past.