PALM DESERT, CA — In this laid-back oasis of sun, sand, and palm trees, contractors will relax, learn a few things, and reflect on the future of their industry.

The Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA) convened here Sunday, Oct. 10, beginning with a talk by the man who helped change perceptions about the way we do business in the 1980s with his breakthrough book, The One Minute Manager.

Dr. Kenneth Blanchard addressed SMACNA convention-goers at the opening general session. In one of his books, Blanchard wrote about two types of managers that were in vogue at the time — the “tough autocrat” who was interested primarily in profits and results, and the “nice democrat” who employees liked but about whom superiors were less than enthusiastic.

Either one, according to Blanchard, was only half a manager. “Effective managers . . . manage themselves and the people they work with so that both the organization and the people profit from their presence.”

Of course, effective management is one of the perpetual goals of contractors who want an edge on the competition.

Two recent studies by SMACNA show where the future of the industry is heading.

“Hvac Duct Market Opportunities” survey provides expanded local market insight for SMACNA chapters. The study calculates market opportunities for each chapter over an extended time frame.

“The Consolidators-Utility Deregulation Survey” indicates that the trend is for consolidators to acquire non-union firms, while utilities tend toward acquiring a mix that is mostly union firms.

Facilities services firms most likely will play a significant role in the industry’s future. Energy services companies and independent, manufacturer-owned, and utility-owned firms will play a major role in defining the industry during and after deregulation.