Making progress isn't enough. You have to make it faster than your competitors!

Even amid a tropical paradise and widespread prosperity, some cautionary pessimism is called for. At the annual Duct Fabricators Forum, speaker John Mariotti talked about change and how it affects our industry.

Several disturbing changes are afoot for contractors, he said, indeed some changes that could "pose a potentially unfavorable climate for the traditional SMACNA contractor."

John Mariotti, the Enterprise Group, emphasized the issue of change before the duct manufacturers forum here. He noted that this is the only construction sector that installs what they fabricate. "The best value will win in a free market."

Citing an FMA Duct Fabrication Market Survey, Mariotti named three earth-shifting changes afoot for SMACNA contractors:

  • There is a trend from rectangular hvac duct to spiral.

  • The functions of fabricating and installing hvac duct are separating.

  • There is a movement toward product standardization.

Mariotti also cited these comments from those responding to an FMA survey: "If outside fabricators with lower rates can sell into our territories, we may as well get out of the business."

And, "automated manufacturing of ductwork is here to stay¿ large manufacturers have created more man hours for sheet metal workers than contractors claim to have preserved through work protection clauses."

Mariotti urged contractors to: learn from the past; understand the present; and create the future. "Don't be so preoccupied with perfecting the present¿ that you fail to work on finding the future!" He cautioned contractors on complacency, noting that changes are afoot that could impact their very way of doing business.

For example, the growth of spiral duct, of non-installing fabricators, and of product standardization could mean that some contractors are "targeting the wrong segments with the wrong product."

Mariotti has an extensive background in business, having managed and led organizations in four different industries, during the past four decades. During his career he has held key managerial positions in materials, manufacturing, logistics, and planning and development. For 15 years he was president of major businesses - most recently of Rubbermaid's Office Products Group, and prior to that, Huffy Bicycles.