If there is one saving grace, dare I say it, a silver lining to the shortage of sheet metal workers, it's this: now, more than ever, contractors are taking note of the talent they have on their shop floors.

In the words of Glenn Parvin at Cass Sheet Metal Detroit (and this month’s cover star), the labor crisis is like an apple. “You’ve got to take a bite out of it from many sides,” he says. And that’s the focus of our “Help Wanted” feature story (on page 22).

Parvin is one of many Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA) members who support initiatives that will help reshape industry-wide labor sources. Meantime, in this issue, we are kicking off our ongoing investigation into how contractors can reshape their labor sources now without disrupting workflow.

The first move — and arguably the most difficult to make — is to adopt new technology. As discussed in our “APPreciation” story (on page 16), a good arsenal of mobile applications in your digital toolbox can shave off some time wasted between client and crew.

If we are starting to sound repetitive on the topic of technology, it’s for good reason. Robotic arms, virtual reality (VR), the internet of things (IoT) and interoperability will only improve with time. The longer you wait to adapt to it, the longer it will take you to catch up to all of its changes.

If you haven’t noticed already, we at SNIPS have made a symbolic change by adopting a new, modernized logo, sans sheet metal shears. As a shop tool, the shears will always be a nostalgic nod to our industry’s past, but part of our new editorial mission is to always be looking toward the future. And we think our new masthead best reflects that.

Appropriately so, planning your shop’s future is one of many themes at this month’s 75th annual SMACNA convention in San Diego, California. With session titles such as “Managing the Labor Crisis & Measuring Customer Satisfaction” and “Five Steps to Maximizing Return on Investment,” SMACNA clearly aims to help its members tackle the labor shortage from “many sides.” Included in those sessions (read more at SNIPSmag.com) are tools contractors can use to identify hidden talent on their team and promote existing employees to positions they will love.

Because isn’t that what this labor “crisis” is all about?

Simply put, people are fed up with jobs. They want careers. And once contractors can weld their shop’s needs with the needs of a modern workforce, it’s no longer just work for their employees. It’s a labor of love.