Last month, at the annual Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors' National Association (SMACNA) convention in San Diego, California, I had the pleasure of meeting many of SNIPS' longtime readers. To you I say: THANK YOU.

But for every company and contractor who knew and loved SNIPS magazine, there were more than a handful who had never heard of us. Don’t panic! These are the opportunities to make good first impressions that we absolutely love, and, if you’re a shop owner, you should love them, too.

Now, when so much of our relationships are built online, the in-person first impression has even more power to build or break your business. We know and have seen this at the SMACNA convention firsthand, which is why each month we strive to recreate this opportunity for contractors in our pages.

Consider each article in this issue a first impression. You’ll see a few familiar faces along with others that seem brand new — most notably, our cover star Tom Patsis of the Brownsburg Indiana-based Cold Hard Art.

Patsis is probably one of the most famous sheet metal fabricators that no one in the industry knows on page 25. Weird, right? Still, whether you’ve heard of him or not, Patsis has crafted a major following from producing classic car models and custom trophies out of sheet metal. His specialized skills represent a small but burgeoning segment of the sheet metal industry that we are proud to celebrate.

In our new SHOP Talk section, we celebrate longevity with the Grand Rapids, Michigan-based, Zinger Sheet Metal — a third-generation, family-owned business that’s been around since the ‘50s. 

Speaking of longevity, last month I also got the opportunity to attend the annual METALCON convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. There, Dan DiMicco, former Nucor CEO and adviser to President Trump, gave a hard-hitting address about why the longevity of the U.S. steel industry is a matter of national security. You can listen to his full speech at, but the gist was this: If the U.S. can’t build, it can’t be a superpower. 

Before signing off, DiMicco made a final plea for the audience to do their part in recruiting the next generation of trade workers. Although I can’t say I agreed with everything he said — especially his quip about college being a “social experiment” — he did make a point to thank contractors as the people who built this country to greatness. And I think that’s something we can all be thankful for.