SMACNA Members Face Big Challenges in 2011

James Boone, president, Sheet Metal Air Conditioning Contractors National Association (SMACNA), made the following remarks during the SMACNA Annual Conference in October:

As CEO of Central California's largest mechanical contracting company, I am intimately familiar with the daily challenges every person in this room faces, and am equally conscious of those on the horizon:

Every year, legislators come up with new and inventive ways to hinder many businesses from operating competitively or, heaven forbid, make a profit.

In California alone, unfunded pension liabilities top $500 billion. Many of our union's pension plans are in similarly critical condition;

To make matters worse, the Financial Accounting Standards Board is proposing new standards that would require contractors to include in their financial statements not only actual, but also possible pension liabilities on their balance sheet.

Health and workers' comp costs continue to rise, and the hidden—or unintended—consequences of the new Health Care Bill remain unknown.

Finally, technological advancements and market changes seem to occur on an hourly basis.

Though these mounting issues can at times feel overwhelming, and many are out of our control, we can nonetheless mitigate their impact and advance in areas that present the greatest competitive advantage to our SMACNA members:

Representing union contractors, SMACNA maintains a uniquely influential position on Capitol Hill, and will push for incentives that will require the use of more highly-skilled SMACNA contractors. We will also expand our safety training programs, collaborating with joint apprenticeship training centers to provide contractors with a safer, more marketable, workforce.

Our union labor partners are equally aware of the challenges our industry faces and, more than ever, recognize that only through a collaborative working relationship will either party overcome the various hurdles in front of us.

SMACNA will also continue to develop more educational opportunities, products and services pertaining to the burgeoning BIM, lean, and "green" market segments of the construction industry. We must remain ahead of the curve in these, and future shifts, in our industry to remain competitive.

While many of the challenges we face seem daunting, overcoming them is what has—and will make—SMACNA contractors stronger, smarter, and better prepared to succeed in the future.

SMACNA is led by outstanding staff and leaders, who work tirelessly on your behalf legislatively, stay abreast of technological and market changes, and help you manage your businesses more effectively.

Your fellow contractors, who are serving on committees and task forces, will work with the national leadership to ensure that we also continue to be at the forefront in creating technical manuals, labor relations, business management education, and the political arena.

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