PartnersINProgress SMACNA & SMARTâ€”Building a Future Together
SMACNA and SMART are partners in quality, standards, and expertise
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: MG McGrath.
March 2019 - Volume 13, Number 3
3 TRUE VALUE Real value is about what you create for yourself and your indsutry, and how you invest in the partnerships that matter most.
PARTNERS IN QUALITY SMACNA contractors and SMART craftspersons bring high quality and expertise to projects requiring the highest standards in sheet metal.
COLLABORATION LEADS TO LEGISLATIVE CHANGE Strong partnerships lead to successful fire life safety lobbies and a safer environment for everyone.
BAPTIST MD ANDERSON CANCER CENTER
Labor and management meet the challenge of a fast-tracked healthcare project.
10 CONTRACTOR OF THE YEAR CREDITS PARTNERSHIP WITH SUCCESS T homas E. Martin works hard for labor-management cooperation, earning him SMACNA's Contractor of the Year award.
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
True Value The expression, “You get what you pay for,” is a cop out. It lacks meaning and purpose, and it is in many cases simply inaccurate—we routinely get more for our money and less than we bargained for, with no means of correction to balance the scales. We are sometimes thrilled but often irritated by the subjective nature of what constitutes “good value” and the inability of everyone around us to see things the same way. The problem, of course, is monetizing value. Real value, true quality, meaningful depth all come from sources far more robust than money. When we talk about value and quality in the signatory sheet metal trade, we are really talking about commitment, reliability, hard-work, and resilience. We are talking about men and women who made a decision to tackle a trade that requires hard work, physical and mental growth, and unwavering commitment to the industry and to each other. We are describing a training and certification system that meets or exceeds the best code writers can conjure and that leaves no man or woman behind. Within those systems we can ensure every single person is trained thoroughly and to the highest standard so every crew brings a breadth of knowledge to the jobsite. When we talk about value and quality we are leveraging the partnerships that unite individuals regardless of where they come from or where they have been, as long as they are willing to be resilient and imaginative moving forward. (In a cyclical but rewarding industry, those with both qualities will flourish.) We are describing men and women who hold each other up, act as mentors when needed, take on leadership roles as required, and face the tough issues when it is the best course. We are talking about honest, open, communicating teams coming together for a common goal. This issue of Partners in Progress highlights several sheet metal contractors and their workforces who bring genuine value to every jobsite. It all begins with the ITI and the curriculum that sends every graduate into their future with a world-class education. Industries like healthcare, which require high technical standards, require the type of value described here, and our members can and do show up with this level of expertise every day, to every job. There is no place the value of positive relationships becomes more obvious than in the successful lobby for fire life safety legislation. Although controversial in some jurisdictions, the contractors and Locals in this story stayed the course, and when they didn't relent, they gained victories from which entire communities will benefit. Even our contractor of
© Can Stock Photo / olivier26
the year feature looks at an individual who earned this honor for his hard work bringing labor and management together. No, what you “get” has nothing to do with money. The truth is: you get what you create. You get what you work for, what you commit to, and what you believe in. This is where real value lives—in the dedication, commitment, and relationships our members bring to the industry and their work every, single day. And none of it would be possible without the compromise, willingness, and even sacrifices between labor and management towards a better collective future. 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” ■
2019 State of SMART-SMACNA Labor-Management Cooperation Survey SMACNA and SMART’s Best Practices Market Expansion Task Force helps identify, promote, communicate, and support industry best practices. In order to assess the perceived value of labormanagement cooperation, find success stories, and ensure that the 2020 Partners in Progress Conference provides value to all attendees, the task force is conducting the 2019 State of SMARTSMACNA Labor-Management Cooperation Survey. It is available at surveymonkey.com/r/DMTVK6R and via Partners in Progress at pinp.org. All SMACNA chapters and contractors, SMART Locals, business managers and agents, JATC coordinators, apprentices, foremen, supervisors, and labor-management committee or trust members are requested to participate by Aug. 15, 2019. Results will be shared only in aggregate in SMACNA, SMART, and Partners in Progress publications. Direct questions to Kaarin Engelmann at firstname.lastname@example.org. Partners in Progress » March 2019 » 3
PARTNERS IN By / Jordan Whitehouse Photos courtesy of T.H. Martin, Inc.
Quality Expertise Partnerships Bring High Quality to Healthcare Projects
t’s no surprise that Mike Harris thinks training is the big thing that sets signatory craftspeople apart from the rest. He’s the program director at the International Training Institute (ITI), after all. Still, it deserves saying, and for a key point he adds, “It’s not just the time and effort we put into training some of our members, but all of them. The non-unionized industry may have a few guys that are really good and knowledgeable, but the whole crew isn’t.” The end goal of all of that training to all of those members is, of course, better, safer, and more sustainably-built projects. There's no doubt the upfront investment in signatory labor and management pays off with a workforce that is better trained and contractors' work that is subject to higher standards—the quality of the final project just can’t be beat. There’s also an efficiency upside at play here, too, T.H. Martin Inc.’s President, Tom Martin Jr., says, and that can mean cost savings for clients in the long run. “What happens with the non-unionized industry is that sometimes they’ll have to outsource training, and it could take two to three weeks. Not with us, though, because we do it all in house, and that’s part of the value we bring—meeting deadlines, getting the job done on
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schedule, having the manpower requirements to get the job done when you need it.” T.H. Martin is a full-service mechanical and plumbing contractor in Cleveland, Ohio, with an average of 75 to 100 union sheet metal workers. The training centre offers a full suite of training courses, says Martin—everything from welding and fire safety to balancing and commissioning to sheet metal fabrication and installation. “We’re constantly offering those types of classes for our apprentices as well as our ongoing journeymen so they can constantly get trained in the latest technology and in the latest standards, and just be on the forefront.”
Exhibit A: Health Care
One project area that demands staying on that knowledge forefront is health care. Hospital and other health-related facilities often have some of the highest environmental and air quality standards in the construction sector. But they also have notoriously low budgets. Thus, the need for that wide breadth of knowledge Harris was talking about, coupled with that efficiency Martin mentioned. California’s Office of Statewide Health Planning and
“Success also comes with networking and having relationships with the engineering community, the inspectors, and facility management so they understand our training. It’s always good for management and contractors as well as the union to network with those individuals.” —Tom Martin, T.H. Martin Inc.’s President Development (OSHPD) believes JR Barto Heating and Air and Sheet Metal Workers Local 104 have both. They’ll be working together on the $100 million, 85,000-square-foot addition to the French Hospital Medical Center in San Luis Obispo, California. One reason they got the job is because OSHPD knows how much experience both have with this type of work, says Local 104 Assistant Business Manager Rich Niday. “Out here in California, with all of the earthquake and seismic needs and everything else, there’s a lot of stringent requirements on these projects. But OSHPD knows that we have a lot of guys with experience with those requirements. Plus, they’re in our SMACNA standards, anyway.” It also helps that those guys have a wide range of skills they’re bringing. With hospital work, there’s likely stainless steel construction, aluminum construction, and galvanized construction. Craftspeople have to know how to fabricate, work with, and install all of those materials. And then there’s the HVAC systems, which are typically quite elaborate, partly because of those high air quality standards. In recent years, for instance, there’s been a push for more craftspeople to know more about ICRA, or infection control risk assessment. Within hospital HVAC applications, ICRA is essentially all about making sure infectious bacteria in one part of a hospital doesn’t contaminate the air elsewhere. In response, SMOHIT developed an ICRA awareness program a few years ago, and ITI launched a course that teaches trainers how to educate craftspeople about ICRA. That course, in turn, helps prepare members for NEMIC’s newly developed ICRA/CHEW (Certified Healthcare Environment Worker) certification. “It’s great to see an area like that where it comes full circle, where we all had a little hand in,” Harris says. “I think that makes for a better product in the end, and, of course, better prepared people to handle those ICRA demands.”
Communication, communication, communication
The value of that kind of collaboration between SMOHIT, ITI, and NEMIC is also true for labor-management partnerships. Because health care jobs in particular are usually so complex and demanding, it’s critical that everyone is on the same page. “If labor and management are communicating on what the contractors need, and labor is understanding, listening to us, and they’re offering assistance with training and updates and
From left to right, shop foreman John Osborne, president Tom Martin, and first-year apprentice Carlos Navarro.
certifications, it helps our members. It helps our union and helps the contractors,” says Tom Martin. “It turns into a win-win.” Niday agrees, saying communication is absolutely essential. “As an example, we have a sub-committee on our apprenticeship training program, and the owner of JR Barto sits on it. So, he gets to see a lot of applicants who are interviewing for the five-year apprenticeship program, and that creates a good communication line there, a solid relationship, and continued growth.” It’s crucial that those communication lines extend even wider, too, Martin says, whether it’s a healthcare project or not. “Success also comes with networking and having relationships with the engineering community, the inspectors, and facility management so they understand our training. It’s always good for management and contractors as well as the union to network with those individuals.” As for the future, communication between all parties will continue to be key because there will continue to be a need for more specialized training. At Local 104, for instance, as with a lot of their sister Locals, they’re looking into doing more specific fire, life, smoke, and safety training, Niday says. “Other Locals are actually creating either a section in their training centre directly dedicated to that, or they’re even making it on a larger-scale certification training for members because that’s where the industry is going.” Martin says his company is committed to staying proactive with training, too, and no wonder. “You’re seeing new HVAC systems come out, new standards of fabrication, new installation methods. So we’re constantly upgrading what we’re teaching, and that’s part of being at the forefront and being able to sell value to customers. We know how these systems work, we know how to install them, how to fabricate them, and we know how to run them.” ▪ Jordan Whitehouse is a freelance business journalist from Vancouver, British Columbia, who writes for magazines, newspapers, and online publications throughout Canada and the United States.
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Philadelphia Local and SMCA gain a victory as fire damper bill gets passed By Natalie Bruckner
he Las Vegas MGM Grand fire of November 21, 1980, is a tragedy that will never be forgotten, and a stark reminder to those in the sheet metal industry about the importance of correct fire damper installation, inspection, and the need for city- and state-wide regulation. For City of Philadelphia Council Member Jannie Blackwell— the lead sponsor for a fire damper bill in Philadelphia that was lobbied by members of Local 19 and SMCA—the consequences of impaired fire dampers are very real. “Jannie Blackwell was in that fire that was caused in part by impaired fire dampers that allowed toxic smoke to quickly spread through the building,” Local 19 President and Business Manager, Gary Masino, says. “She was on the third floor and had to get on her hands and knees to get out of the building. She saw people jumping out of windows to try and escape.” The Philadelphia fire damper safety bill, which was recently passed in city council by 16 to 0, amends Title 4 of The Philadelphia Code, Subcode “F” (The Philadelphia Fire Code) and Subcode “A” (The Philadelphia Administrative Code) to include the proof of inspection (every four to six years, depending on the building) of fire dampers in high-rises, midrises, hospitals, hotels, and restaurants in Philadelphia. It is a win for not just everyone involved, but for the people of Pennsylvania’s largest city. Getting the bill passed was no easy feat, but it is a perfect example of how mass collaboration and lobbying from members
of SMART and SMCA can result in legislative changes that could save lives. Discussions to enact a bill of this kind began almost a decade ago now, as Bill Reardon, executive director/CEO of SMCA of Philadelphia & Vicinity, explains: “Shortly after the TABB/ICB entity was established through NEMI, the SMIAC started to promote TABB certification for testing adjusting, and balancing and for fire life safety. “Those fire life safety discussions pointed us towards recognizing that in a mature city with older building stock, there were many cases where dampers were never installed because they were not required at the time of construction, and that many dampers that were installed had not been inspected or serviced for many years. Simultaneously, there were a large number of high-rise buildings under construction in Philadelphia at the time, generating a great deal of interest in smoke evacuation and stair pressure testing. It was a sort of perfect storm for us to get interested in this issue.” So why did it take so long for the bill to pass? Perhaps surprisingly, the bill originally faced some opposition, Reardon says. “The main objection and resistance came from the City Office of License and Inspections—their resistance seemed to be about enforcement and how they could enforce without additional budget. Of course, we explained that we were promoting a solution that included certified contractors and technicians. Local 19 really took the lead in this crusade and
Examples of Cities, Counties, and States that have Adopted a Fire life Safety Preventative Ordinance City Ordinances: 1. Olmstead Falls, Ohio 2. Garfield Heights, Ohio 3. Broadview, Ohio 4. Warrensbille Heights, Ohio 5. Dayton, Ohio 6. Houston, Texas
7. Henderson, Nevada 8. Reno, Nevada 9. Columbus, Ohio 10. North Royalton, Ohio 11. Medina, Ohio 12. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 13. Lansing, Michigan
County Ordinances: 1. Cuyahoga County, Ohio (Cleveland) 2. Lorain County, Ohio (Vermillion) 3. Summit County, Ohio (Akron) 4. Franklin County, Ohio (Columbus) 5. Lake County, Ohio 6. Clark County, Nevada State-wide Ordinances 1. West Virginia
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© Can Stock Photo / Tawng
Collaboration Leads To Legislative Change
pulled it across the finish line through persistence and politics.” Education was a key component to the lobbying of this bill for members of SMCA and SMART. Gerald Waites, a lawyer for the sheet metal workers who wrote the bill, led the educational aspect so council members could get a greater understanding of how essential fire damper inspection is. “Smoke moves at 6,000 feet per minute,” Masino says. “Smoke inhalation is the primary cause of death for victims of fires. Until you see the effects first hand, it's hard to put that into perspective.” One question that was raised by opponents was whether this was a job creation bill for members of SMART and SMCA, as the amendment requires fire and smoke dampers to be inspected by a licensed sheet metal technician. While Masino agrees that it will create jobs, he adds, “Anyone, no matter whether they are sheet metal workers or not, can do the training to receive the licence to do the work.” Reardon adds, “The TABB/ICB certification is the only certification available today that meets the criteria laid out in the ordinance. There will be others any day now, but we know this is the best. The TABB/ICB Certification is ANSI approved and stands alone in that respect.” With the bill having been signed by the mayor on February 6, 2019, there is a one-year grace period giving the building owners of Philadelphia time to come into compliance. As of January 1, 2020, all those who fall into the building categories will need to show they have the appropriate certification. While a bill of this kind is not new to the United States (having similar preventative ordinance's already introduced in certain areas of Ohio, Texas, Nevada, Michigan, and in the state of West Virginia), it is a step in the right direction for Philadelphia. As for advice to other SMART and SMCA members who are considering a similar course of action, Reardon says, “The biggest lesson we learned was to promote this ordinance without any regard for its impact on hours worked or profit, because it is the right thing to do. This could not have happened without team work. While we don’t always agree on everything, we agree on the well-being of our community and the reality that our people are the solution.” ▪ Natalie is an award-winning writer who has worked in the UK, Germany, Spain, the United States, and Canada. She has more than 23 years experience as a journalist, editor and brand builder, specializing in construction and transportation.
© Can Stock Photo / SeanPavonePhoto
"This could not have happened without team work. While we don’t always agree on everything, we agree on the well-being of our community and the reality that our people are the solution.” — Bill Reardon, executive director/ CEO of SMCA of Philadelphia & Vicinity
Another Win, This Time For Pittsburgh Another great example of lobbying for the greater good can be seen with the collective efforts of sheet metal workers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. On August 3, 2016, an ordinance was passed that amended and supplemented the Pittsburgh City Code, Title Eight, Fire Prevention, by adding Chapter 802, Fire Safe Building Inspection Program. Under the ordinance, fire dampers, smoke dampers, and smoke control systems must be installed and maintained in accordance with specific requirements to prevent the spreading of fire and smoke through a building’s ductwork. For Kevin Malley, business representative, Local 12, who wrote the bill, and members of SMACNA of Western Pennsylvania, education was an essential component to the lobbying of this bill. “Having the Local 12 apprenticeship program onboard was extremely important,” Malley says. “We built a mockup in the training centre and attached it to a smoke machine that had dampers installed incorrectly. City council members and the mayor could then see for themselves the effects of faulty fire dampers.” James Strother, executive director of SMACNA Western Pennsylvania, adds that it was thanks to collaboration with the union, who really took the lead, that led to the passing of the Pittsburgh bill. “We worked alongside them, but Local 12 were the ones who shook the appropriate hands, educated city council members, and worked with the fire department,” he says. In another step forward, the Local 12 Training Center now includes the Fire Life Safety 1 technician as part of the curriculum, and as Malley says, “We have guys ready to do the work.” Malley concludes, “The passing of the bill is good for the industry in general as I have been able to share our experience with other Locals and sheet metal workers who are trying to accomplish the same thing.” ▪ Partners in Progress » March 2019 » 7
to Northern Florida Labor and Management Meet the Challenge by Deb Draper Photos courtesy of MG McGrath
he new Baptist MD Anderson Cancer Center in Jacksonville, Florida looks over the St. Johns River, a tribute to health and hope and to the skilled professionals who created it. Designed by an HKS/Freeman-White team of architects, the stunning exterior of the 330,000-square-foot building is clad in textured metal, terra cotta, and extensive glazing. The project used the Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) design and construction approach with local trade partners and stakeholders working together in a co-located space since April 2016. Nearly 1,200 construction workers from more than 45 sub-contractors joined together to meet the aggressive timeline set for the stateof-the-art structure. MG McGrath Architectural Surfaces of Maplewood Minnesota, brought decades of experience in design, engineering, and fabrication of metal plate, composite materials, and wall panel systems to meet the technical challenges of the job. Striking wall panels cover the front of the 250,000-squarefoot parking garage, perforated with diamond-shaped holes to accommodate code for open areas. On the first level, a unique stainless steel mesh panelling system made of Banker Wire wraps around and over the entry and exit. There’s a custom louvre system with tubes running about 30 feet, midway to the first floor of the four-level structure. And that’s just the parking garage. Three-dimensional diamonds shaped from brushed aluminum flow down exterior feature walls. Luke Rassmussen, project manager at MG McGrath, explains, “We bent those panels in the shop, adding reinforcement to strengthen them. One diamond takes four panels, with the smallest wall using about 400 panels, each assembled individually as they were being installed. There was so much custom work—even special terra cotta rainscreen panels shipped in from Germany.” Then there was the challenge of connecting the existing patient tower to the new cancer center with busy San Marco Boulevard running between. Two giant Ys made of structural steel and clad in Apex aluminum by MG McGrath, one on each side of the thoroughfare, support the 150-ton glass- and steelenclosed pedestrian walkway. “They constructed it on the parking lot next to the boulevard,”
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explains Lance Fout, business manager for Local 435 in Jacksonville. “We put on all the panels along the bottom side and anywhere else where it’s not glass.” When it was completed, two 450-ton cranes lifted the 124-foot sky bridge into place—a feat of meticulous engineering and design. “We had good collaboration with the contractors, DPR Construction from Orlando, Perry McCall Construction, the architect, and those in the field installing everything,” Rassmussen says. About 10 workers from Minnesota’s SMART Local 10 came on site to give further training in the custom architectural side of sheet metal to some 34 Local 435 workers. Ferber Sheet Metal Works, Inc. of Jacksonville, with decades of experience in healthcare construction, was brought in from the beginning to help design and install the complex HVAC system. “Most of the specific healthcare requirements are about cleanliness—the process used to clean the ductwork when it’s fabricated and keeping it clean through installation,” explains Ferber's General Manager, Jon Croft. “That means we wipe out all dust and debris, then do it again using denatured alcohol. All the ends of the ductwork are covered while being shipped to the jobsite and they stay covered until they start pumping air.” “The workers from Local 435 are trained on the types of hazards that can be created if these standards aren’t fulfilled,” Fout says. “Also our guys are used to working in tight quarters in a healthcare facility with so many different systems— mechanical, electrical, plumbing—all running through the corridors. We train our labor force in using building information modeling (BIM), working with the contractors so everyone understands the process.” About 10 years ago, Ferber adopted BIM along with the powerful software applications the technology supports. “Everybody on the job site used Trimble grade control systems to laser-shoot their hanger points,” says Harold Sharp, Ferber project manager. “There’s a lot of training involved, but we can install ductwork in a quarter of the time it would normally take. It all begins with the hangers; they have to be in the right spot.” Although most of the ductwork was galvanized, there were also MRI quench pipes using 12-gauge, reinforced stainless
steel. “That was a challenge with 11 running together tightly, all bending the same way,” Croft says. “We had a unique situation in that there was an extremely large amount of work going on in the area with all our workers coming from Local 435. We answered that with overtime and splitting some shifts to bring in crews from other jobs.” It had all just started to get going when Hurricane Irma hit. Because none of the windows were in yet, many of the hanger attachments were compromised and had to be reinstalled. The first floor was flooded; all the office trailers were contaminated with seawater and sewage and had to be replaced. “Everything shut down for almost four weeks,” Fout says. “The contractors did a good job of keeping track of how many hours the members missed, and SMART stepped up and approved a [national stabilization] SASMI benefit to help those members affected by Irma. Between the two contractors on the job, we had about 60 of our union workers involved, with a total of about 10,000 shop hours and 44,000 field hours at Ferber and another 35,000 hours at McGrath. Our guys were exposed to many new things, and got some good experience on this project. “Florida healthcare projects are moving away from traditional stucco towards the longevity, easy maintenance, and aesthetic appeal of metal, so when the next project comes up, we’ll have people who can do the work.” In the end, stretched to the limit by an extremely fasttracked timeline, the many different unions involved met every challenge, and the new Baptist MD Anderson Cancer Center opened in September 2018—an incredible achievement in only 18 months including one hurricane. The extensive healthcare experience of Ferber Sheet Metal Works, Inc., the custom fabrication and installation abilities of MG McGrath, and the ready, willing and very able Local 435 workforce played a huge part in making that happen. It just goes to show what can be accomplished when labor and management work together to get the job done, and done right. ▪ From her desk in Calgary, AB, Deb Smith writes for trade and business publications across North America, specializing in profiles and stories within the hospitality, food service, mining, recreation, and construction industries.
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Contractor of the Year Credits Partnership with Success in Sheet Metal By / Sheralyn Belyeu Photos courtesy of SMACNA Cleveland
homas E. Martin, president of T. H. Martin, Inc. in Cleveland, is SMACNA’s 2018 Contractor of the Year, and Local 33 President and Business Manager Mike Coleman knows why. “Martin absolutely loves this industry,” Coleman says. “No one would dedicate so much time to things that don’t affect his business model without love. That love was instilled by his father.” Martin’s father is a retired contractor who started out as a sheet metal worker. “My father and grandfather were both sheet metal workers,” Martin explains. “Growing up, my brother Mike and I learned the nuts and bolts of the industry through my father.” Mike Martin is partner, vice president, and general manager overseeing construction at T. H. Martin (THM). “We understand the industry from top to bottom. We can talk the talk because we come from a family of sheet metal workers,” Mike Martin says. “Tom Martin’s father built from the ground up, and Martin has a very clear understanding of what his father accomplished,” Coleman says. “That insight makes him an unbelievable industry partner. He is always engaged in any project that will build this business. He keeps the industry in mind in all decisions, even those that don’t benefit him directly.” Tom Martin is chair of the LMCC and on the JATC Apprentice Committee. His dedication allows SMART and SMACNA to collaborate on initiatives like an aggressive fire life safety program. “Local 33 brought it to employers, and they embraced it,” Coleman says. “Our program is the most successful in the country.”
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SMACNA and SMART hired a lobbyist to set up joint events for politicians, officials, and customers. “We bring governors, mayors, politicians, municipalities, and firefighters to our JATC so they can see why certifications are important,” Coleman says. “We inspect building fire dampers and smoke dampers and check stairwell pressurization, which prevents smoke from being distributed and oxygen from feeding fires. This gives occupants time to get out of harm’s way, gives fire fighters time to do their jobs, and saves lives.” The coordinated effort is paying off. Municipalities and counties across Ohio now require fire life safety inspections, and the team is working on a statewide initiative. “Projects like fire life safety could never be successful without a strong partner like Tom Martin,” Coleman says. “No matter when I call him, he gets right back to me. I’ve never known him not to take a call. He’s busy, so we often discuss industry needs on the weekends.” The appreciation goes both ways—Martin is quick to credit Local 33 with increasing his market share. “We hadn’t been very successful in getting projects in assisted living facilities,” Martin explains. “We didn’t know why until Local 33 brought it to our attention with a memorandum of understanding (MOU).” “The MOU encompassed all kinds of light commercial work,” Coleman says. Local 33 did an extensive study of permits pulled by HVAC contractors in all cities to see what kinds of projects they were losing to non-union employers. “Once we had the information, our committee put together a package of things we would do to be more competitive,”
Tom Martin (left in above) gives Ruskin's Keith Glasch a tour of the THM shop in 2017. Photo: SMACNA Cleveland The sheet metal business is more relationship-driven than many industries. “Many owners are more concerned about who can provide high-quality work and meet a schedule than they are about pricing,” says T.E. Martin, president of T. H. Martin, Inc. Coleman says. Local 33 now bids certain contracts at a competitive, discounted rate. “Local 33 approached the LMCC with the MOU five or six years ago, and it helped us secure more work,” Martin says. “It keeps contractors busy and employees working.” Martin is always looking for ways to improve market share. “We do our own fabrication, and we also fabricate for supply houses and other contractors,” Martin says. THM takes jobs of all sizes, from $100 to $15 million. The small jobs started as filler work to keep the shop busy, but Martin soon realized they were expanding his customer base. “If we provide exhaust fans for a hospital, we might be involved with the next big project on their campus. It’s all about networking. Each job gives us an opportunity to build a relationship,” Martin says. The sheet metal business is more relationship-driven than many industries. “Many owners are more concerned about who can provide high-quality work and meet a schedule than they are about pricing,” Martin says. “Hospitals, universities, and corporations like Ford and Sherwin-Williams need contractors who can get the job done professionally in a timely manner.” Strong relationships with employees are critical to quality work, so Martin thinks deeply about employee needs. “We want the sheet metal workers to be successful, which means we have to give them the support they need,” Martin says. “That includes adequate manpower. We provide materials and take care of
quality control so they don’t have to worry. Good support allows the foreperson to concentrate on the job.” Support includes clear communication, so Martin supplies his lead forepersons with iPads. “Without an iPad, the foreperson is bombarded with time-consuming paperwork,” Martin explains. “Papers might get lost or dirty. Sometimes they fall in the mud. With an iPad, you don’t lose anything—it keeps the drawings, the addendums, and the submittal dates all in one place. The foreperson has access to schedules, so he or she always knows where the other teams are working. When any issue comes up— say there’s ice or the dock space is occupied—he can blast out a question and keep working.” The iPad also tracks time cards, daily logs, and safety meetings. “It’s less tedious for the foreperson and allows him or her to concentrate on the priority—getting the job done,” Martin says. Coleman worked for THM as a young man. “I got to see how the company was run from the very beginning,” Coleman said. “I don't know how Tom Martin does it all, but I am glad he does.” ▪ A Colorado native, Sheralyn Belyeu lives and writes deep in the woods of Alabama. When she’s not writing, she grows organic blueberries and collects misspellings of her name.
Partners in Progress » March 2019 » 11
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The expression, “You get what you pay for,” is a cop out. It lacks meaning and purpose, and it is in many cases inaccurate. The problem is...
Published on Mar 27, 2019
The expression, “You get what you pay for,” is a cop out. It lacks meaning and purpose, and it is in many cases inaccurate. The problem is...