I’ve been to a lot of SMACNA conferences, including a few in Hawaii, but I’ve never experienced anything like October’s event on Maui.

It started out typical enough for a Hawaii conference: an exhausting 12-hour flight took me to the remote Pacific island chain, where I landed in sunshine and suffered from jet lag. Not that I’m complaining.

But then overnight Oct. 24, storms knocked out power around Wailea, the site of the Sheet Metal and Air-Conditioning Contractors’ National Association’s annual convention. As I would soon find out, the whole island was in the dark for a few hours. That included the Marriott resort where SMACNA was holding its product show that day. A 6:30 a.m. sheet metal product show — without lights, coffee, food or air conditioning. But that was the scenario that greeted me and SMACNA members that morning. Even cellphone service was spotty.

To the credit of the hotel staff, they were able to make a limited amount of coffee and supplied cold ham sandwiches. While not what SMACNA had expected, attendees were grateful for the grub. And many seemed to be happy to visit booths lit by lantern and browse product literature with flashlights. One SMACNA staffer quipped that it was the “greenest” product show ever.

Meanwhile, I was trying to figure out how I was going to produce our annual 8-page on-site flier with pictures from the conference that morning without power or Wi-Fi. I didn’t think it was possible.

But then, power came back. The coffeemakers were fired up and I could plug in my laptop and connect to the internet. Thanks to art director Niki Bonkoski back in Michigan and the local printer, the flier was done — on time.

The whole experience taught me that as much as I enjoy Hawaii, paradise is a lot more fun with electricity — and coffee.

Help solve a sheet metal mystery

Something about Snips readers that I find endearing is the love many of them have for old tools and sheet metal forming equipment. Our October cover story on a Lockformer Pittsburgh machine estimated to be over 75 years old generated a lot of interest.

If you’re a follower on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/SnipsMag/), you might have seen a post on this topic from a few weeks ago. Reader David Rowlett of Massachusetts-based Ductworks contacted me about a vintage machine he recently purchased. He said it appears to be a Pittsburgh combination pipe lock machine made by Riverside Machinery Co. of Chicago. Rowlett said it came from the estate of a 98-year-old former sheet metal worker.

I tried searching online for any information about the company but didn’t have much luck. I was hoping our readers might be able to help. My email is mcconnellm@bnpmedia.com.