With the recent political whirlwind that has permeated the HVAC industry, many suppliers, manufacturers and contractors are in a state of flux. We are all waiting to see how things play out in the metals market after Trump administration’s March 8 announcement of new import tariffs on steel and aluminum.

Whether you’re a buyer of foreign or domestic steel, it’s pretty clear that everyone is seeing higher prices as well as allocation threats from mills. Unfortunately, all the particulars are out of our control. However, the decision of how we strategically react and proceed is solely up to our own respective companies.

Being a member of the Spiral Duct Manufacturers Association can help in these times. The annual meetings have always been an ideal platform to gain ideas from others in the sheet metal industry to implement into our own businesses. New ways of thinking allow us to become better — especially in times of such volatility. It is beneficial not just to have fellow manufacturers to bounce ideas off but it’s an opportunity to talk to associate members whether they are suppliers or contractors. Developing trustworthy relationships will enhance our businesses when the market is strong or when construction slows and we are looking to keep employees busy.

Most of us throughout the country are enduring the same struggles of finding labor as the economy continues to grow. Finding and keeping good employees has proven to be a difficult task. Now with the new duties on steel and aluminum, many contractors have suddenly started to worry about the portion of their bids that have typically held less risk — material costs. The odds of getting more money added into their contracts due to the actions coming from Washington is quite slim.


Time to think 

This is where we all need to think creatively to help stay within budget. An opportunity comes in the form of round duct. Rectangular duct has proven to require more material to fabricate than spiral duct — not to mention the labor that is saved during installation.

This can be a good time to convert as much rectangular duct into round or oval spiral as possible, since it decreases the total material weight as well as material waste. Should a contractor not have the shop equipment to make this a possibility, it can be equally beneficial to convert and buy the round package from a manufacturer that can handle the risks of material price increases.

No one can predict the steel market and what it will do in the coming months, but minimizing risks on rising prices will be essential. All the manufacturers within SPIDA can help, and they have proven to be successful on both small and large jobs. The continued investment in new, modern machinery has allowed all the members to stay competitive and act as partners with contractors in getting projects built successfully and within budget from start to finish. If you have not had the chance, visit www.spida.org to find different manufacturers that can help you as well as learn more about the benefits of round and oval spiral. Cheers to a good and prosperous 2018 to all.