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SMACNA & SMART: Leaders in Change and Transformation

Management Guru Peter Drucker noted, “The greatest danger in times of turbulence isn’t the turbulence—it is to act with yesterday’s logic.” To say that we are now in turbulent times may be the understatement of 2020.

The August edition of Partner in Progress showcases SMACNA and SMART partners who have successfully transformed their businesses, work practices, and cultures to excel in times of extreme turbulence.

It would be next to impossible to identify any priority that unites labor and management more than the safety of our workforce. Safety in the sheet metal industry is going through an unprecedented transformation. Fortunately, SMART, SMACNA, and their jointly sponsored Sheet Metal Occupational Health institute (SMOHIT) are in the forefront of developing a “generative safety culture” that engages people at all levels in an organization. The lead article on page 4 provides insight into the new safety culture that moves safety from a compliance “blame game” to a collaborative team system where everyone gets involved and looks out for themselves and each other.

All sectors of the sheet metal industry have had to confront the challenges of COVID-19 head-on and embrace and implement significant changes. Included in this issue are examples of how labor and management in two segments, Residential HVAC and Testing and Balancing (TAB), surmounted challenges to meet customer needs. Residential HVAC success stories (page 8) detail how SMACNA contractors and chapters and SMART Locals in Colorado, St. Louis, Reno, and the Bay Area of San Francisco rallied together to make sure that their states designated them “essential services” and research, develop, and implement safety protocols for employees; communicate their safety protocols so customers were comfortable having workers come to their home; and implement or expand customer rebate programs to maintain a steady volume of work.

On page 10, we learn how a Philadelphia testing and balancing (TAB) contractor and skilled technicians from Local 19 leveraged their reputations and previous relationships with healthcare facilities to meet emergency requirements. While this article focuses on the needs of healthcare facilities, their experiences and lessons learned will provide good guidance as educational, retail, and other facilities examine their needs for more effective filtration and ventilation systems.

This month’s “My Journey” features the unique career path of SMACNA BC Chapter Executive Bruce Sychuk. Bruce’s initial work in the industry began as a sheet metal apprentice. He advanced to journeyman and then became a top supervisor running large jobs for his union sheet metal contractor. His understanding of both the trade and contracting sides of the industry made him an excellent choice to manage and grow the SMACNA BC chapter. This also gave Bruce an incredible opportunity to work with contractors and Local 280 to build one of the most effective and strongest labor-management relationships in North America. We are fortunate that Bruce shares his expertise and experiences in the industry as an important member of the SMART-SMACNA Best Practices Market Expansion Task Force.

The article on Page 13, “Delighting in the Possibility” provides a good analysis of what it takes for leadership at all levels to succeed during times of extreme change. Each company, union, chapter, and individual featured in this issue had to go beyond “managing the probable” because fluid circumstances require flexibility and new solutions. The individuals and organizations discussed earlier did not default to old methods to solve unprecedented challenges. They collaborated to “lead the possible” during this time of turbulence.

September 14-18, 2020, has been designated as Construction Safety Week. Numerous SMACNA contractors and SMART Locals will be commemorating this week with programs to make sure that every sheet metal worker returns home safely at the end of the workday. Let Partners in Progress know what your companies and local unions are doing to promote safety by posting to social media and tagging #smpartners, and send pictures and information to press@pinpmagazine.org so we can feature your ideas and accomplishments to provide examples for other areas to follow. ▪