PartnersINProgress SMACNA & SMARTâ€”Building a Future Together
Labor and management work together for success at CitizenM TRENDS AND TECHNOLOGY ACCESSING JOINT FUNDS - ITI CANNABIS MARKET SMART MAP
PartnersINProgress SMACNA & SMART—Building a Future Together
JOSEPH SELLERS, JR. NATHAN DILLS Co-Publishers KAARIN ENGELMANN firstname.lastname@example.org Editor-in-Chief
Photo credit: Sheet Metal Occupational Health Institute Trust (SMOHIT).
February 2019 - Volume 13, Number 2
3 PARTNERING THROUGH CHANGE Change can be hard—and wonderful—but it will always bring about opportunities we didn't know were possible.
CITIZEN M HOTEL PROJECT Skilled labor helped management achieve success on this modular hotel project in Seattle.
TRENDS AND TECHNOLOGY SMACNA contractors and SMART's skilled workforce employ technology and lean practices to retain market share.
10 ACCESSING JOINT FUNDS - ITI
The International Training Institute offers training support, funding, and expertise so labor-management partnerships can flourish.
12 WHERE THE GREEN IS
The emerging cannabis market offers opportunities for contractors and their skilled workforce.
14 MEMBERS HELPING MEMBERS
SMART and SMACNA tackle the substance abuse and suicide crisis occurring
in the construction industry.
JESSICA KIRBY email@example.com Editor POINT ONE MEDIA INC. firstname.lastname@example.org Creative Services ERIC WESTBROOK Cover Illustrator
Partners in Progress is a publication of the Sheet Metal Industry LaborManagement Cooperation Fund. All contents ©2019 by the Sheet Metal Industry Labor-Management Cooperation Fund, P.O. Box 221211, Chantilly, VA 20153-1211. Find Partners in Progress online at pinp.org or at issuu.com/ partnersinprogress. An archive of all issues is available and printed copies may be ordered for a minimal fee. For comments or questions, email email@example.com.
S HE E T M E TA L | A I R | R A I L | T R A N S P O R TAT I O N
Through Change It can be uncomfortable to talk about change
because with change comes uncertainty. Despite our best intentions, the time we spend imagining the results, and the effort we make to control the outcome, change can be hard— and wonderful—but it will always bring about opportunities we didn't know were possible. More than adapting financially, logistically, and technologically, we must secure strong, enduring partnerships from which to approach change with determination, trust, and mutual support at the forefront. It is the only way to do this right. In this issue of Partners in Progress, we look at change on several fronts. Modular building is a buzzword turning heads all over the place because for owners it means reduced costs, for contractors it means efficient work, and for the workforce it means new horizons in training. There are several ways to view it and factors to consider when adapting to this change, but in the end it will be contractors and craftspersons willing to work together to ensure quality workmanship and efficient management bring modular building into the fold as something that will benefit us all. In fact, there are many practical changes on the horizon— lean, design build, BIM, software implementation—that are going to cause our industry to reach new heights when it comes to adapting. Partnerships between labor and management are already paving the way for advancement in these areas, as evidenced in our feature story about trends in technology. With change comes learning and who could be better prepared than our highly-skilled workforce? The International Training Institute (ITI) is already assisting contractors with an educated workforce, and JATCs with training, instruction, funding, and expertise as they look to regional activity and help prepare for what is coming in each region. See what several contractors and
their workforces have done to stay ahead of change in our story about accessing joint funds through the ITI. Even when change brings a dark side, partnerships will light the way. The construction industry is experiencing a crisis in suicide, mental health, and substance misuse issues, and it is time for action. SMART Map has developed a comprehensive, informed program aimed at assisting individuals experiencing and affected by these issues. They are calling on contractors for support and wrap-around implementation so, hopefully, this is one change our industry recovers from quickly. Read more on page 14 of this issue. And finally, the cannabis industry is a change everyone has been anticipating as millions of square feet of industrial space are erected to manage grow operations across North America. Where is this work happening, and how can our contractors and workforce benefit? Find out on page 12. The only thing constant in this world is change—some of it is immediately beneficial and some is not, but most importantly, change always offers opportunity for growth, collaboration, and new relationships, if we choose to take the leap. Are you in? Follow Partners in Progress magazine for more about emerging markets, market recovery opportunities, projects fueled by partnership, and opportunities to keep the workforce strong. The 2020 Partners in Progress Conference will also showcase these ideas under the theme All In. Visit pinp.org to keep up to date and find useful resources available to SMART locals, SMACNA contractors and chapters, labor management cooperation trusts and committees, training centers, and individual members of SMACNA and SMART. Registration is required for full access. It is free but limited to members. You can also find us on Facebook as “sheetmetalpartners”, on Twitter as “smpartners”, and on Instagram as “smpartners” ■ Partners in Progress » February 2019 » 3
citizenM By / Robin Brunet
Skilled labor helps management achieve success on Seattle modular hotel project
Seattle’s South Lake Union district, better known among locals as SLU, is headquarters to cutting edge businesses like Starbucks and Amazon. It makes sense that any new hotel in SLU should be cutting edge too, which is why Dutch firm CitizenM is creating Seattle’s first lodgings built in a modular fashion, intended for guests who are tech-savvy and prefer urban, contemporary settings. The lobby, offices, and infrastructure of the 264-room CitizenM Seattle South Lake Union hotel were built traditionally by Mortenson Construction, but the hotel rooms were prefabricated in Poland, shipped to Seattle, and are being stacked by crane on top of one another. This type of construction is endemic to CitizenM projects around the world because it means speed-to-market and early revenue (projects can be delivered in up to half the time of regular construction, in addition to requiring 90 percent fewer vehicle movements to and from the construction site); and in Seattle, the job was facilitated by a fruitful collaboration between Auburn Mechanical and Local 66. Jim Reynolds, vice president, HVAC design & construction for Auburn, explains, “We relied on Local 66’s skilled detailers throughout the design stage to help turn our shop drawings into construction documents.” He points out that this was crucial to the expediency of the stacking process, since each prefabricated hotel suite was outfitted in Poland with utilities that had to be connected to the new hotel infrastructure in Seattle. Reynolds goes on to note 4 » Partners in Progress » www.pinp.org
that CitizenM sought Auburn to provide value engineering, constructability input, and pricing. “We made sure to involve the detailers from day one of the design process,” Reynolds says. “All of us sat down with the project manager, combed through the drawings and filled in gaps as they appeared, and gave our input back to the engineers—a process that lasted about nine months.” One of the biggest challenges of the new CitizenM hotel from Auburn’s perspective was deciding the most efficient way to
The biggest risks to the modular construction model are the modular manufacturer’s quality control, shipping and protection of the modules, and high quality 3D modeling—the latter being the place SMACNA and SMART partnerships ... can bring the most value to the modular concept. get outside air into the hotel and inside air out, because there would be six levels of stacked modules on top of a ground level lobby, a food service canteen, and a basement full of mechanical components. “We had to take great care deciding where to go with the shafts and eventually decided to work from the top of the building down,” Reynolds says. It should be noted that every pair of rooms on each level of the hotel would be a reverse image of the other, and the HVAC shafts, plumbing, electrical, and other utilities would be run in between the room pairs, which worked out to 44 rooms per floor and 22 shafts. The successful design collaboration was especially fulfilling, given a recent CitizenM hotel project in New York City that had the modular component but minus the off-site installation of utilities. “Everything was done on site, and the project became very labor intensive and expensive,” Reyolds says. CitizenM’s devotion to modular design was enthusiastically embraced by Mortenson, whose general manager, Phil Greany, pointed out last year as the company was preparing for an August start to the stacking process, “It solves the specific regional issues we are facing in skilled labor shortages, capacity/backlog of the local subcontractors and suppliers, and the logistical nightmare created on our streets, with projects on what seems like every block.” The builder was tasked with the fabrication of the Seattle hotel units, based on its experience working with CitizenM in New York and other international locations. Full-time inspectors presided over construction of the 264 suites, which began with the formation of steel cages. The completed modules were wrapped in an air and water barrier that would remain in place when the units were stacked on top of each other on-site and then shipped to Seattle, a four-week journey. “Essentially, all we have to do on-site is hook everything up,” says Reynolds. As of February the stacking process continued on time and on budget. “Seattle has always been an early adopter of different building concepts, and prefab modular is one of them,” Reynolds says. “But for me, this project was also an opportunity to continue the bridge-building between SMACNA and SMART that began when we reached our six year agreement.” Modular building is just one evolving technology bringing a new face to the sheet metal industry, and Local 66 keeps a keen eye on regional trends that help shape its programming. “Technology is an ever moving target and as a Local union we are dedicated to staying in front of these technologies in order to
provide a trained workforce to signatory contractors,” Local 66 Business Manager Tim Carter, says. Reynolds says he believes there is a place for modular construction, especially in the hotel and residential marketplace. Auburn is scheduled to do a second CitizenM hotel in Seattle that will not be modular because its high-rise classification is not compatible with CitizenM’s current modular design. “It will be very interesting to compare pricing and labor efficiency on these two projects, since they are very similar except for the high-rise provisions,” Reynolds says. The biggest risks to the modular construction model are the modular manufacturer’s quality control, shipping and protection of the modules, and high quality 3D modeling—the latter being the place SMACNA and SMART partnerships have the most control and can bring the most value to the modular concept. “This is where our highly trained labor partners make a significant contribution, converting the engineers documents to constructible 3D fabrication documents,” Reynolds says. “It is also where we bring the opportunity for modular design and fabrication—specifically prefabrication—to the infrastructure outside of the room modules, meaning the chilled and hot water piping, domestic waste water, and venting and the electrical distribution.” This last item is where previous projects have fallen short, and was a major contributing factor to Auburn Mechanical being selected for the projects, Reynolds adds. Johnson says the relationship between the Local and Auburn—Reynolds in particular—was a key factor in the project’s success. “[He] is a very fair and open person to work with on the management side,” says Local 66 Business Agent Bryan Johnson. “Our senior managers have a lot of respect for him. I know that for those of us who swing the hammers we’re all grown up and don’t need an ‘atta boy’ from anyone, but in reality we like a good word here and there, and that’s the kind of support we get from Auburn.” ■ Robin Brunet’s journalism has been published in over 150 magazines, newspapers, websites, and other media across Canada and the U.S. since 1982. He is also the best-selling author of two books: Red Robinson: The Last Deejay and Let’s Get Frank, as well as the upcoming The Last Broadcast.
Partners in Progress » February 2019 » 5
Trends and Technology
SMACNA contractors and SMART's skilled workforce employ technology trends and lean practices to retain market share By / Don Procter Sheet metal is like any sector of the construction industry— stable in its approach, tried and true in its methods, and wary of rapid changes in too short a time span. And rightfully so. The only thing worse than staying stagnant is rushing in without the proper knowledge, training, and game plan for implementing new technologies. But considering rising costs, modest margins, and growing labor scarcities, change is indeed inevitable. According to industry studies, several key trends in technology and efficiency practices are leading the way to more productive and competitive outlook for contractors and their well-trained tradespersons. Lean Practices Since Apollo Mechanical engaged in lean practices about eight years ago, its labor and materials costs have dropped by 10–15 percent while production levels have risen. At the contractor’s largest project—a high-tech semi-conductor facility in Hillsboro just west of Portland, Oregon—all sheet metal supervisors and field personnel are trained in lean practices. “We took a lot of time on the materials and tools sides to sift through what we really needed,” says Eldon Parry, one of Apollo’s project managers. Next, the entire field crew was 6 » Partners in Progress » www.pinp.org
trained in the use of specific tools to meet the company’s lean practices. “Everyone has gone through a standardizing and sorting effort in our commercial world, high-tech world, and some of our other project divisions,” Parry says. Successful lean implementation depends on skilled union labor, adds Jamison Connor, Apollo’s division manager. “They are the ones who know where the waste is, where we can lean things up, and where will the technology will help.” Connor says it is a mistake to think union jobs will be lost when technology is used more efficiently on the job. “The goal is not to make 20-30 percent on a job; the goal as a union company is to try to get more market share back. If we can get more efficient that means we can beat more of these non-union companies.” A lot of the work on the project is performed in a clean room environment. Employing upwards of 100 sheet metal workers, Apollo is installing tens of thousands of lineal feet of ductwork ranging in size from three-inch to 100-inch diameters over the contract’s year span. While prefabricating sheet metal fittings is not unusual in the industry, Apollo goes further at the Hillsboro site by assembling fittings into large spools or sections of ducting and installing
Wiegmann Associates prices total costs on design-build projects, changing the way the general contractor views the work. Photo courtesy of Wiegmann.
them “in the air,” says Connor. “It is a lot different than what most people [in the high-tech sector] are doing and it is a good learning curve.” Apollo might be the only contractor in the sheet metal sector in the Portland, Oregon, area that provides every field foreman with a cloud-based laptop and tablet. Eliminating rework is the biggest benefit, Connor says. Not many years ago the contractor hired people “to run paper,” but that’s been eliminated. Meanwhile, the shift to the electronic medium reduces potential problems on site because documentation is sent to multiple parties instantaneously for quick resolutions. For the past year Apollo has used a HoloLens—a holographic computer with head-mount display—in its validation installation process for prefabrication. “It portrays a one-to-one scale of the design in a holographic image, making sure the design truly works,” Parry says, pointing out that such tech solutions marry well into the company’s prefabrication and lean practices. HoloLens also acts as an important coordination tool because all of the trades get involved in the design assembly prior to installation and through it can assess where they are along the working timeline. Cost Efficient Design Wiegmann Associates Incorporated has an answer to owners pressuring general contractors to get the lowest price on new builds: show them how an efficient design can save money on operational costs for all trades. Gerry Wiegmann, CEO of the St. Louis-based contracting firm, says pricing out total costs, not just first costs, in a design-build changes the parameters of how an owner or general contractor looks at the work. “We are a strong union town and going designbuild helps us become competitive with construction costs in merit shop markets,” Wiegmann says. It is important to do a comprehensive energy analysis upfront;
“We are a strong union town and going design-build helps us become competitive with construction costs in merit shop markets,” says Gerry Wiegmann, CEO, Weigmann Associatioes Inc. otherwise, the cost of operating a building can be a guessing game, he adds, noting that roughly 80 percent of the company’s contracts in the United States are design-build and almost all of them are done in-house. He says a lot of engineers design buildings to provide cooling and heating capacities at full load, but that doesn’t account for part loads where a lot of reheat might be required. The contractor sees equal or more efficient ways to heat and cool buildings and lower first costs by using conventional systems with a thorough analysis of how to operate efficiently at part load. Wiegmann says BIM has played a key role in the company for decades. “We tend to be the supervising/organizing component of everybody’s BIM efforts because we have the largest component (plenum) in the ceiling,” he says. The company uses repetitive components when possible to improve efficiencies and cut installation costs. “The (installation) contractors we hire in areas around the country don’t need to phone takeoffs into their shop to do special fabrication because what is required are the same-size plenums, same-size round ducts,” Wiegmann says. He points out that the value of the union sheet metal workers can’t be overstated when it comes to complex jobs using BIM and CAD. “Although a CAD person from the office understands how to lay it out, they don’t have the hands-on experience our union craftpersons do to complete dimensional drawings for intricate installations,” Wiegmann says. “We know that when they fabricate it, it will fit.” Partners in Progress » February 2019 » 7
Partnerships with skilled labor boost contractor confidence the job will be completed well and on time. Photo courtesy of Wiegmann.
The value of the union sheet metal workers can’t be overstated when it comes to complex jobs using BIM and CAD.
Modular Building Over a year ago McKinstry set up a dedicated innovation group to focus on research and development, new technology, and lean practices. Employing technology to meet lean practices at its offices across the United States is paramount, says Matt Allen, director of construction technology, McKinstry’s Pacific Northwest region. “With disparate job sites it is a real challenge to standardize and train across those jobs,” he says. Comprising 10 people, the group includes software engineers, estimators, and others focused on McKinstry’s design-build agenda. Allen says one of the aims is to calculate material costs and even scheduling durations in the design stage through Revit in BIM. “If you have that data you can have a lot more clarity around where you are at in your budget,” Allen says. Increasingly, work is being centralized offsite through prefabrication and modular construction practices. Veteran, welltrained workers are starting to move from the field to central operations. Their experience and skillsets allow very tight manufacturing tolerances, which is critical in McKinstry’s offsite fabrication processes, Allen says . It could take a couple of years to fine tune data, which will have important value-add potential for McKinstry’s customers. “We can project our costs better and get information to the owner 8 » Partners in Progress » www.pinp.org
McKinstry uses multitrade racks containing multiple trade components in one prefab unit. Photo courtesy of McKinstry.
faster and more accurately,” Allen says. “We can create more certain timelines. We think that can be really transformative.” He says while it helps control McKinstry’s destiny, it will be a major benefit for the industry once the technology reaches all the trades. Adding costs and schedules in the virtual design world is only part of the equation. Offsite prefabrication and modular construction are enabled by virtual construction. The mechanical contractor typically partners with other trades to fabricate assemblies at its 125,000-square-foot prefab plant in Seattle. Multi-trade rack assemblies are expected by top tier MEP (mechanical electrical plumbing) contractors in the competitive Seattle market. For the building industry to make some leaps, he says it is important that MEP contractors are not siloed. “If the whole consulting team (including the architect) has this mindset of designing and manufacturing components, that is where you see the needle move.” A stumbling block, however, can be the price of technology. “With margins so thin in construction, companies are scared to spend money on technology because we don’t totally understand the ROI (return on investment) yet,” Allen says. “We typically ask operational folks to spend more time thinking about innovation.” Building Information Modeling Last year Southland Industries opened a 160,000-squarefoot fabrication shop in Garden Grove, Cal., to improve its prefabrication and modularization capacity. Material comes in one door, is fabricated, and goes out another door onto trucks for just-in-time deliveries. “It is a one-flow shop,” explains
Updates in training are important and ensure that union craftspeople will be ready to go on jobs where the latest technology and lean practices are in play. Alan Blomgren, construction manager of Southland’s southern California division. “For lean practices, we don’t have the back and forth anymore.” Training crews on the line to install piping, plumbing, and ductwork on racks in-house is paramount, but modularization goes further at Southland as its crews need to learn how to install systems for outside trades. Zone valve boxes produced for medical centers, for example, include the drywall frame. Projects have to be carefully planned for just-in-time deliveries so training crews to meet fast-paced deadlines is important. “It is plug-and-play when it leaves the shop,” says Blomgren. Along with cutting installation time in the field, the benefits include a safer, cleaner, and climate-controlled work environment. The company is currently doing a prefabrication job for a 17-story medical center in Loma Linda, Cal., requiring one million pounds of ductwork. To meet schedule and price on projects like it, Blomgren says it is paramount to be in synch with the general contractor and the owner. He says the southern California division is starting to model all of its projects in Revit. “We can bring our Revit models on our iPads out into the field and do comparisons in real time with the architect,” Blomgren says. “I think the next step is going to be augmented reality where you can hold your iPad up and see in the space what is supposed to be there.” Southland is also finding success with Trimble software, a GPS survey system it uses for layouts of ductwork on a deck. “I think we are out ahead of the game and the competition as far as technology goes,” Blomgren says. Henry Nutt III, sheet metal general superintendent of Southland’s northern California division in Union City, adds that the trained union workforce is a critical part of what the company does with Revit and BIM and the use of different types of platforms. Nutt sits on a committee for SMART Local 104 that is involved in updating the apprenticeship curriculum to ensure training meets the needs of mechanical contractors as technology grows in the field in the San Francisco Bay area. Nutt, who also works with ITI and a SMACNA Lean steering committee, says updates in training are important and ensure that union craftspeople will be ready to go on jobs where the latest technology and lean practices are in play. ■ A freelance writer based in Toronto, Don Procter covers the building, design and planning industries in Canada and the U.S. Away from the office, his pursuits include the ongoing restoration of his centuries-old home, cooking for family and playing in a blues band.
TRENDING PARTNERSHIPS: Labor and Management Tackle Technology Together The conversation about technology and the workforce is vast— increases in productivity and efficiency could affect man hours, but the upfront costs can be astronomical. Implementation could mean a steep learning curve for the entire industry, but failing to advance could hold us back. What is the answer? In times of changing horizons, solid partnerships between labor and management are more important than ever. The future is coming, like it or not, and there is no better way than trust and communication to ensure technology is used to supplement, support, and strengthen contractor businesses and craftspersons' livelihood. Keep an eye out for the following key trends in construction, and start thinking now about how your partnerships will work to your advantage. Automation—Automation is set to displace workers in some industries, but construction is one where the lining is definitely silver. Products coming for our industry focus primarily on supplementing the human workforce and even prolonging careers by addressing repetitive tasks, heavy lifting, and dangerous tasks. Besides that, opportunities for the technically minded to work with automation, designing, installing, and operating, will expand the realm of construction work for future generations. Now is the time for management and labor to discuss how to make technology work for everyone. Modular Building—The modular construction market is expected to expand by 6.9 percent over the next five years, especially as allowable heights continue to grow. However, most major prefab companies manufacturing overseas are experiencing important quality control issues, which makes a great case for in-house prefab facilities that make use of our highly trained workforce. Workforce training to tackle these types of projects is the best way to secure them in advance. Lean Practices—Streamlining can mean big changes, including automating certain tasks, cutting material waste, and reorganizing the workflow. But the part of lean less often discussed is the workplace culture that underpins its success. As important as how many units are produced each our is establishing trustworthy relationships, open communication, and self-reflection in the workplace. If that doesn't lay the groundwork for successful partnerships, nothing will. Visit pinp.org to keep up to date and find useful resources available to SMART locals, SMACNA contractors and chapters, labor-management cooperation trusts and committees, training centers, and individual members of SMACNA and SMART. Registration is required for full access. It is free but limited to members. Partners in Progress » February 2019 » 9
Accessing Joint Funds International Training Institute The ITI offers cirriculum development, training support, funding, and expertise so labor management partnerships can flourish. By / Jessica Kirby
A successful partnership is like an abundant spring garden— you get out what you put into it. In the case of jointly funded programs, SMACNA and SMART are contributing time, energy, and funds into ensuring a gold mine of ideas, services, and resources that can play an important role in keeping labormanagement partnerships running smoothly. For a partnership to be successful, using every available tool is critical. The 2018 Partners in Progress Conference hosted a panel session on making use of joint funds, what is available, and how to access the resources available through the ITI (International Training Institute), NEMI (National Energy Management Institute), SMOHIT (Sheet Metal Occupational Health Institute Trust), and PINP (Partners in Progress). Presenters from each organization placed special emphasis on how jointly funded resources can assist labor and management in becoming more successful in growing market share and managing the workforce. International Training Institute (ITI) Administrator Jim Page says the ITI's mission is to provide quality training programs to expand the workforce's skills. Page told participants at the 2018 Partners in Progress Conference that the ITI provides curriculum development and training resources for the welding and industrial, BIM, testing and balancing, and architectural and ornamental sectors, and getting involved in a local JATC can help offer the exact training a contractor needs to be competitive. “The ITI provides JATCs with curriculum development, instructor training, accreditation, mentoring, welding compliance, and annual audits,” Page says. “It also helps develop custom solutions that ensure training on the local levels is matched to regional needs and that training is targeted. We provide field staff with expertise in these areas, and we ensure that JATCs have access to national resources.” 10 » Partners in Progress » www.pinp.org
Fifth period apprentices are tested on the Blueprint Reading and Specifications curriculum. Photo courtesy of San Diego JATC.
Examples of ways contractors and the workforce have accessed ITI resources are abundant across the United States. In 2017, Local 23 in Anchorage was offering service technician training that was on par with the rest of the United States, but not necessarily a fit for local contractors. “First- and second-year apprentices didn’t know enough to go out in the truck, on jobs, alone, but contractors couldn’t afford to pay a journeyperson to go with them,” says Bruce Bold, training coordinator for Local 23. “For those one-man jobs, contractors were losing money on apprentices. Service is a different beast. You have to have a pretty qualified person right from the start.” Bold and the contractors looked to the training coordinators at Local 66 in Washington and to Darrell Garrison, field staff and service specialist with the ITI, for help. Together, the group rewrote the service technician apprenticeship program to meet regional needs, front-loading it with the skills contractors requested at the beginning of training. For instance, first-year apprentices attend a five-week electrical class and a five-week refrigeration class as well as training in customer service. That meant schooling doubled in the first two years, but less time was required in the third and fourth years, and all classes now take place in the off-season when contractors are in a slow period. The result was good feedback and increased interest from contractors, Bold says. “That’s the coolest part about putting this program together is the input. I haven’t had an out-of-work service tech apprentice in a long time.” Chris Caricato, training director at the JATC in San Diego, has focused ITI assistance on keeping the workforce ahead in the technology game. The JATC has implemented a number of new
“Knowing the ITI has our backs allows us to strengthen the core of our industry so we can be there for the contractors who are out there fighting to get this work,” says Keith Schettler, coordinator for Local 12 JATC. technology training courses for members with help from the ITI training grant programs. “There is a significant cost savings to the JATCs when purchasing training equipment such as Trimble Robotic Total stations, welders, computers, trainer stations, and 3D scanning, and there are software discounts for things such as Autodesk products and Bluebeam.” Understanding the technological needs of the regional industry, ensuring the workforce is well-trained in key programs, and keeping ahead of new developments is a prime component of retaining market share, Caricato says. “The more training that the JATCs can provide to the members, at no cost to the member or the employer, the more efficient and profitable both organizations will be,” he says. “We are now looking into new technologies to increase production with design, fabrication, and installation.” Caricato is working to identify future needs and will look to the ITI for assistance with curriculum building, train the trainer courses, equipment pricing discounts, and possible ITI grants. “We need that training to increase our member man-hours and employer market share,” Caricato says. Another example is regionally specific training Local 12 in Pennsylvania used to prepare its workforce for the five-year Shell ethylene cracker plant project in Beaver, Pennsylvania. The ITI's Architectural Specialist Dan McCallum coordinated with Local 12 to provide training on complex building enclosure systems specific to the cracker plant, which was, at the time, out for bid. McCallum says training members ahead of a project’s start results in higher retention rates, knowledge, and skills. “This type of training improves the efficiency and the effectiveness of the installation,” he says. “If you estimate a job at X number of hours, and workers are not trained, production suffers, labor hours increase, job costs rise, and that estimate is ‘blown’. You’re going to be more successful hitting those hours because they are more educated.” Local 12 JATC Coordinator Keith Schettler says the ITI's training in architectural building enclosures and in lagging— another need identified relating to the cracker plant—was without question the advantage signatory contractors needed to win the bid. “We spent the past five years training heavily for that work and we have started to capture back a portion of that industry because of it,” Schettler says. “We are now going head to head with the insulators to get those hours back, and as a result a union company was able to win the bid at the cracker plant.”
With 30 years' experience behind him, Instructor Robert Fewkes instructs fifth period apprentices in the Blueprint Reading and Specifications course at San Diego's JATC. Photo courtesy of San Diego Sheet Metal JATC.
The ITI also provided an OSHA 30 instructor and three architectural instructors to help Local 12's workforce complete their training. “Having a program like this strengthens our industry,” Schettler says. “Knowing the ITI has our backs allows us to strengthen the core of our industry so we can be there for the contractors who are out there fighting to get this work.” Looking ahead, Local 12 will access ITI funds for a mockup for building enclosure training, new training facilities for architectural metal, and training support for CAD. Contractor needs will continue to guide the focus of Local 12's training into future markets. “Contractors have made a commitment to share the wealth, and we must commit to bringing the best-educated and highly trained workforce there is to share with them,” he says. “Our training centres wouldn't be here if contractors weren't willing to commit to hiring the best trained people there are out there, and our International has always gone full steam ahead to make sure we have the best trained people on those jobs.” Schettler says the next thing he hopes training will support is succession planning as the aging workforce shifts market requirements. “I see aging owners with companies that may go to the wayside if someone isn't willing to buy them up,” he says. “If those companies—some of them larger—go to the wayside, how will we stabilize the industry and keep everyone working?” He suggests a support system for smaller companies that will inevitably be the future of the sheet metal industry. “We have to look at how the industry will break down and where we need to increase stability to keep moving,” he says. “We teach a residential program here—it is small, but maybe that is something that could get bigger for residential contractors starting out and help them increase their foothold.” ■ Partners in Progress » February 2019 » 11
Where the GREEN is What will the cannabis revolution mean for HVAC contractors? By / Jordan Whitehouse
Like it or not, legal cannabis is here,
and it’s not going away any time soon. As of writing, 33 states and the District of Columbia had allowed pot for medical use, recreational consumption or both. You might have also heard a small news item about Canada’s recent legalization. All of this means a lot of green for a lot of people, of course, and not just of the plant variety. A 2018 report from Arcview Market Research suggests that the total economic output from legal weed in the United States will grow from $16 billion in 2017 to $40 billion by 2021. And it’s not all going into the pockets of the producers (or the government). The HVAC industry, in particular, will be — and has been — reaping some of the rewards. No wonder. As Brian Lade, the president of Smokey Point Productions in Arlington, Washington put it recently to Cannabis Business Times: “[HVAC] is everything to growing. It’s absolutely everything.” Why? Mold or mildew growth or pest infestations can ruin whole crops or lead to quality test failures. Whatever the size of the grow facility, it has to be precisely controlled for humidity, lighting, airflow and temperature, often to clean room standards. These demands don’t make the HVAC job easy, but according to many companies that have gotten in on the ground floor of this burgeoning market, it’s been worth it. E3 Service Group, located in Arvada, Colorado, has done well over 100 cannabis-related jobs over the past six years. “It wasn’t
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anything that I set out to do — it kind of found me,” said President Bryson Guyer in an interview for Air Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration News last April. “Out here in Colorado, I think every heating and air company has done marijuana at some time or another. For us, we always specialized in commercial kitchens before this…[a]nd there was a lot of translation between building a restaurant and building a grow facility.” Technical considerations
The environmental demands of a grow facility might actually be more similar to those of a data centre, though there are some exceptions. The big one is the grow room’s large latent load, which comes from the significant amounts of water given to the plants every day, and which has to be precisely removed by the HVAC system. Understanding that latent load comes down to understanding how the plant behaves at different times in its life cycle, writes Dave Meadows, Director of Industry, Standards and Technology at STULZ USA, in a 2018 white paper. “And this brings up another challenge — the grow space is dynamic, the conditions change based on plant behaviour and lighting conditions. Successful HVAC designs for the grow space must be able to quickly react to changing needs as well as being able to handle the worst-case scenario in regards to the sensible and latent loads.”
Another big thing to consider is that production facilities typically have several grow spaces, each with different environmental demands. The mother room, for instance, which houses the mother plants of the various clones, could require a temperature of up to 85 F, and a humidity level of 50% RH. The clone room could only need 75 F, but 70% RH. No matter the room, though, producers need quick, accurate information about the environmental conditions of their plants. And that’s why more HVAC companies are delivering that info to the palms of their hands. “One thing I’m excited about is that I have control panels for each grow room, and I have access to those with my cell phone,” says Smokey Point’s Brian Lade. “I get up-to-date information — alerts, text messages and emails — if any of my variables are not where I want them.” Stigma, security, education
Outside of all those technical considerations, another challenge some contractors may face is how to overcome the social stigma associated with cannabis. It was a big one in the beginning for Rob Shannon, co-owner of Cascadia Air Conditioning, in Ladysmith, British Columbia. “We just had to change the public perception of the industry,” he says in that April issue of Air Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration News. “We overcame it with time, research and talking to wholesalers and manufacturers and explaining the industry. It has been beneficial for us because we’ve tapped into a niche market and are now leaders in our field.” For Bill Kean, the director of field operations at Dynamic Air Services in California, the unique security requirements of grow facilities can also take some getting used to. “Keep in mind, even today, there are questions regarding the legality of this industry. It’s a big difference from dealing with your typical standard commercial or residential HVAC project. The cashonly nature was also something we had to change operationally, as we weren’t set up to have our technicians handle these large amounts of cash.” And then there can be issues with educating customers on the complexity of projects like these, says Kean. That’s why he and his team spent a significant amount of time learning about and testing different products before jumping into this market. Despite these challenges, however, few contractors appear to regret making that jump. “There’s a huge opportunity in this for every HVAC company, but if you’re not specializing in it, if you’re not spending the time to learn what to do and what not to do, I can see how it would almost ruin somebody’s business,” says E3 Service Group’s Bryson Guyer. “We’ve learned so much in the last five years. We were just in a grow facility yesterday that I built five years ago, and it is a dinosaur compared to the way we’re doing things now.” ■
State and Province Marijuana Facilities Under Construction as of 2018
As of November 2018, thirty-three states and the District of Columbia had passed laws broadly legalizing marijuana in some form. July 1, 2018 also marked the day cannabis became legal and regulated in Canada, with laws around consumption age limit, how marijuana is sold, where it can be used, and how much one can possess in public and at home varying from province to province. In the United States, laws vary from expansive regulation legalizing recreational use to medicinal use under specific circumstances and cannabis-infused products only. A number of states have also decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana. Because it is a burgeoning market, up-to-the-minute numbers of the sqaure footage of industrial space under construction for the purpose of marijuna growth facilities are hard to pin down. However, at the end of 2018, there were 34 major facilities under construction in North America, divided into categories: Western United States, Eastern United States, and Canada. In the west, including California, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, Washington, and New Mexico, 15 of the continent's largest facilities are or were under construction. They measure between 30,000 and 3 million square feet, and several will be under construction until 2020. Eastern United States, including Illinois, New York, Florida, and Massachusetts, is home to four marijuana grow facilities ranging in size from 100,000 to one million square feet. In Canada, 15 facilities have sprouted up across the country and several are still under construciton with floor space doubling in some cases over the next two years. British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick have grow facilities ranging in size from 30,000 to 2 million square feet. As contractors and craftspersons continue to navigate opportunities and requirement in the cannabis industry, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to share your success stories. The next Partners in Progress Conference, scheduled for 2020 in Las Vegas, will help labor and management learn ways to strengthen and develop partnerships in exploring emerging markets. Keep an eye on Partners in Progress magazine for conference details as they become available, or watch our social media: Facebook @sheetmetalpartners”, Twitter @smpartners”, and Instagram @smpartners for updates ■ Partners in Progress » February 2019 » 13
MEMBERS HELPING MEMBERS
Tackling the Crisis of Substance Abuse and Suicide in the Construction Industry By / Deb Daper | Photos courtesy of SMOHIT
The Department of Education for SMART
is dedicated to making a positive difference within the labor movement through the development and delivery of a variety of in-depth training programs to its members and their representatives. About four years ago, SMART Director of Education, Chris Carlough, and his team were putting together the Advanced Business Representatives Training program and decided to include a section on how to help members going through crisis in response to the shocking numbers of suicide and substance abuse disorders within the construction industry. “Because of the connection between suicide and addiction, we were primarily thinking of substance abuse,” Carlough says. “As we worked on the program, it became evident that when dealing with mental health issues, we really had no training. From there, it grew into its own program–the SMART MAP (Member Assistance Program).” SMART MAP focuses on mental health needs of members and their families—a national and local training effort that includes both theoretical knowledge and practice of basic crisis intervention skills. “For the last two years, the training has been done in conjunction with our International Training Institute (ITI) and the Sheet Metal Health Institute Trust (SMOHIT), jointly funded by SMART and SMACNA,” says Carlough. “Suicide in 14 » Partners in Progress » www.pinp.org
the construction industry in the United States has the highest rate in percentages and numbers over any other industry. With our partners in SMART MAP we are trying to get the training side caught up, and this year we’ve added a full day on suicide prevention.” The three-day training involves gaining an understanding of what substance abuse disorder is, what it looks like, and understanding the elements that affect and accelerate addiction. “We talk about not only what the disease of addiction is, but also about the stigma, the human effects, and the economic impacts,” Carlough says. According to SMART MAP research, addiction costs an estimated $428 billion and 500 million work days every year in the United States. Thirty-five percent of emergency room patients with occupational injuries are problem drinkers. Up to 40 percent of industry fatalities and 47 percent of industry injuries can be linked to alcohol problems. Carlough talks about how when people are in the midst of addiction, usually the last thing they lose is their job. “Home lives, relationships are all strained and broken, but the job is usually the last thing to go. They need the money to support the lifestyle, but even more important, as long as they have a job, they can tell themselves, ‘I’m good. If it was that bad they would have fired me.’ This denial is the most important piece that we need to understand if we are going to be able to help.”
The second part of the training focuses on solutions, treatment options, and how to direct someone to those resources, how health insurance plans can get people the help they need. Finally, participants learn the importance of support for people coming out of treatment so they can be successful. “It’s a battle,” Carlough says. “And it’s not fixed by going away somewhere for 28 days.” Volunteers who go through the training can help with re-integration into the workplace, and can make the difference in achieving long-term recovery and a healthy lifestyle. For the past four years, SMART MAP has been training more on the union side: managers, business agents, union organizers, but this year and the last, they’ve layered in union shop steward training, apprentices, apprenticeship instructors, and coordinators and any others wanting to participate. “We’ve had some contractors’ reps including a rep from SMACNA come to our training, and we’d like to see more,” says Carlough. “Our employers are more than welcome. This training is for everyone. It affects everyone. It is every important to understand the connection between the employers, the union side, and the training. SMACNA’s Director of Safety and Health, Mike McCullion, says, “We’re trying to get the word out about suicide in construction; we’re doing our part in advertising the need for understanding and to get the stigma off these issues.” In 2017, SMACNA joined the Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention (CIASP) and dedicated a session to the topic during the 2018 Partners in Progress Conference. In 2019, SMART MAP will be offered at three locations across the United States, but it doesn’t stop there. “We’re laying the groundwork for more peer training,” Carlough says. “Someone who might be in a position to help such as an apprenticeship instructor, a business rep, an employer, a worker on a job site—building a network of people to help all our members for proactive intervention. A lot of times, peers who are raising their hands to be part of these programs are people who are in recovery themselves, and that’s really valuable because they’ve been there; they know the process; they know what recovery looks like.” The education team is developing an online peer training program to soon be available on the SMART MAP website (smartmap.org). About two hours long, the program will address substance use disorder, suicide, treatment recommendations, and confidentiality and ethics. Randall Krocka, administrator for SMOHIT, has been working closely with SMART MAP in the development of the programs, reaching as many members as possible. “Those who have gone through the program and want to be available to others have given us their contact information so members from across the country can have a peer to talk to if they need to,” Krocka says. SMOHIT supports a fully confidential 24/7 HelpLine for any
“We talk about not only what the disease of addiction is, but also about the stigma, the human effects, and the economic impacts,” says smart director of education Chris Carlough. member who needs help or who wants to know how to help: 1-877-884-6227. “We have been encouraging our locals along with our apprenticeship classes to integrate SMART MAP training into safety programs whenever possible,” says Krocka. “Our members are number one, and we need to take care of them when it comes to safety and health. This training goes very deep, and Chris has put together a fantastic program that is there to help our members. This is a community issue that affects us all.” The SMART MAP program started because the need was out there, and because helping a fellow brother or sister in need is what SMART has always been about. It is spreading across the country towards a healthier workplace and life for all its members. ■
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It can be uncomfortable to talk about change because with change comes uncertainty. Despite our best intentions, the time we spend imagining...
Published on Mar 1, 2019
It can be uncomfortable to talk about change because with change comes uncertainty. Despite our best intentions, the time we spend imagining...