The road to Mandalay Bay
October 1, 2007
Is Las Vegas the Sheet Metal and Air-Conditioning Contractors’ National Association’s favorite convention city? It certainly is a place the group heads to regularly. Every two years, its Partners in Progress event with the Sheet Metal Workers union is held there. And along with its meetings in Hawaii every four years or so, members can be assured SMACNA’s annual convention will be passing through Nevada sooner or later.
The city, besides being the nation’s top gambling destination and an entertainment capital, vies with Orlando, Fla., each year for the nation’s No. 1 convention city, according to Tradeshow Week, an industry publication.
As always, SMACNA has organized an event packed with educational seminars and meetings, along with plenty of break time for other activities such as sightseeing and golf.
This year’s Oct. 24 closing dinner performer will be Kenny Loggins. Chances are you know a few of his hit songs, either from his 1970s partnership with Jim Messina, as a solo artist or the hits he’s written for others.
“This is It,” “Your Mama Don’t Dance,” “Footloose,” “Danger Zone” and “Whenever I Call You Friend” are just a few of the chart-topping hits the 59-year-old Washington state native has had.
Loggins was born in Everett, Wash., and raised in Southern California. Working as a guitarist and songwriter, he eventually met and teamed up with Jim Messina, a former member of the country-rock band Poco and producer for Buffalo Springfield. Loggins originally planned to have Messina produce his first solo album, but the two worked so well together they became one of the most popular singing duos of the early and mid-1970s. Their hits of this era included “Danny’s Song,” “House at Pooh Corner” and “Your Mama Don’t Dance.”
After the two men ended their partnership in 1976, Loggins quickly moved into solo work. “I Believe in Love,” the Grammy-winning “This is It,” “Don’t Fight It” and “Whenever I Call You Friend,” a duet with Fleetwood Mac singer Stevie Nicks, were among his hits in the late 1970s.
In the 1980s, Loggins’ work was featured on many hit movie soundtracks. The 1986 Tom Cruise movie “Top Gun” saw fighter pilots flying to the beat of “Danger Zone.” The hit-packed soundtrack to the 1984 movie “Footloose” included Loggins’ title track. It spent four weeks at No. 1 on Billboard magazine’s Hot 100 chart.
Other artists have recorded much of his work. “What a Fool Believes” was a top hit for Michael McDonald and the Doobie Brothers.
Today, he continues to record and perform regularly. In 2005, he reunited with Messina and embarked on a successful tour.
SMACNA has hired two special speakers this year, Frank Abagnale and Alison Levine.
In a 1977 episode of the TV game show “To Tell the Truth,” contestants had to pick which one of the three men standing before them was Abagnale.
It wasn’t easy - the famous con man had cashed millions of dollars worth of fake checks and impersonated airline pilots, attorneys and doctors, and eluded capture by international authorities for years.
SMACNA members can be assured it will be the real Abagnale who will speak Oct. 21 during the opening general session.
Abagnale, 59, today is the head of Abagnale & Associates, and advises companies on how to avoid being victims of fraud. He was the subject of the 2002 Steven Spielberg-directed film, “Catch Me if You Can,” based on his best-selling autobiography.
His criminal life started as a teenager, when he learned how to cash bad checks and trick unsuspecting bank customers into making deposits into his accounts. Although he dropped out of high school, Abagnale was soon earning thousands through his scams.
One of his best known was pretending to be Pan-Am pilot “Frank Williams,” taking free trips on Pan-Am and other airlines all around the world. Tickets, food, hotel rooms were all billed to Pan-Am, thanks to a fake company ID card and pilot uniform.
For a time, Abagnale pretended to be a pediatrician at a Georgia hospital, an attorney in Louisiana and a university instructor.
His crimes ended in 1969 when he was arrested in France. Although all 26 countries where he was accused of committing crimes wanted him extradited to their jurisdictions, he only served prison time in the United States, France and Sweden.
He was released in 1974 on the condition that he assist the FBI and other law enforcement authorities catch criminals - but without pay. Later, he founded Abagnale & Associates, where he now earns a living as a fraud consultant speaking to business groups, and lectures often at FBI offices and academies.
His presentation will cover his time as fugitive and the events that led him to abandon his criminal life.
Alison Levine started life with a heart condition that doctors said precluded most normal physical activities. Even climbing stairs or driving was too stressful, she was told.
But Levine didn’t let that stop her. After surgery changed her condition, she was determined to live life at its fullest.
SMCANA convention attendees will be able to hear her story at noon Oct. 22 during the spouse luncheon program.
Levine became an accomplished mountain climber and explorer, serving as team captain for the first Mount Everest expedition featuring American women. She went across the Arctic Circle on skis to reach the North Pole.
Levine also reached the top of Wall Street, working for a major investment bank. She left New York to work as deputy finance director under Arnold Schwarzenegger in his bid to become governor of California.
In 2005, she founded the Climb High Foundation, a group that works to help women in Third World countries by teaching them to become tour guides. Levine’s work has helped build schools in Nepal and Uganda.
Her story has been featured by more than 450 newspapers, television and radio stations. She has appeared on CNN, ABC, NBC, Fox and CBS, as well as in National Geographic, Sports Illustrated Women and numerous other publications.
SMACNA’s convention also includes a small trade show Oct. 23. Here’s a list of some of the other meetings planned.
Oct. 22• Construction efficiency expert Dennis Sowards will tell why “Lean Applied to Construction - It Works!” at 7:30 a.m. Oct. 22.
The SMACNA-affiliated New Horizons Foundation-sponsored project examined “lean thinking” and analyzed how working “lean” has made some nonconstruction industries more successful.
In this session, attendees will learn how principles that led manufacturing industries to higher profitability and lower costs are applicable to sheet metal and HVAC work.
Examples where lean thinking has been applied in construction with great success will also be shared. Learn how applying it can help reduce waste in the office, yard, fabrication area, HVAC service and in the field.
• This year’s Architectural Contractors Forum, also at 7:30 a.m., will discuss how to achieve optimal stainless steel performance. It will include a discussion led by Catherine Houska, an architectural expert with TMR Consulting, on how stainless steel is a “hot” design material because it can be aesthetically spectacular while providing practical long-term performance benefits for green or “sustainable” construction.
• Is “green” the future or a fad? That’s the question to be debated at the 7:30 a.m. Oct. 22 HVAC Contractors Forum.
Thomas Glavinich, Ph.D., P.E., an associate professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering at the University of Kansas, will tell why he believes green is here to stay and what this means for sheet metal contractors.
Oct. 23• During “Politics, Policy, Legislation and You,” scheduled for 10 a.m. Oct. 23, Stan Kolbe, director of legislation, and Dana Thompson, director of political affairs, will lead a talk on the upcoming election season.
• David Coble of Coble, Taylor and Jones Safety Associates will tell how to make safety training interesting, effective and memorable by attending “Effective Safety Training Techniques” at 10 a.m. Coble has 33 years of safety experience including 12 years with the North Carolina Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the past 21 years in consulting.
For more information on SMACNA’s annual convention, write 4201 Lafayette Center Drive, Chantilly, VA 20151-1209; call (703) 803-2980; fax (703) 803-3732; see <a href="link:http://www.smacna.org" target=_blank>www.smacna.org</a> on the Internet.
Sidebar - New York-based contractor to be SMACNA presidentRonald Palmerick is a busy guy. Meetings - or interviews - have to be scheduled a week or two in advance, and you have to be ready. His time is tight.
But that’s understandable when you are part of a management team running one of the largest mechanical contracting companies in New York City.
Palmerick is one of the owners, along with Edmund Mei and Richard Minieri, of ASM Mechanical Systems, which includes Aabco Sheet Metal of Ridgewood, N.Y., and Accurate Specialty Metal Fabricators, which is located in the borough of Brooklyn. The company has had a hand in some of the biggest building projects in New York City, and boasts of plenty of clients from Manhattan’s investment and business communities. Tourists have probably visited or gawked at some of the buildings his company has worked on, including those of the Bank of America, AOL-Time Warner and 7 World Trade Center, one of the off-site buildings which fell after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists attacks.
Other projects have included architectural metal installations and industrial exhaust systems for the city’s subways and pollution control facilities.
When you do work in the country’s largest city, you have to handle things a little differently than contractors in other areas, he said.
“Getting trucks around the city of New York is difficult,” Palmerick said. “We get around that by delivering earlier in the morning. It’s not the easiest way to do business, (but) these buildings get built.”
A small sheet metal shop wouldn’t work for a company of Aabco’s size. The company’s 80,000-square-foot facility includes 70,000 square feet dedicated for sheet metal fabrication.
“We’re a fully equipped shop,” Palmerick said. “We have every conceivable piece of equipment that’s available.”
That includes several coil lines, three plasma cutters and a new water-jet machine for cutting duct insulation. Palmerick figures Aabco produces 4 million pounds of ductwork annually. He said such work accounts for about $30 million worth of the mechanical company’s $60 million yearly volume.
If he’s busy now, Palmerick can expect to be busier after this month’s convention, where he will assume the Sheet Metal and Air-Conditioning Contractors’ National Association presidency for the next year. The position will mean he will be traveling frequently from his Ridgewood, N.Y., offices and New Jersey home to speak to SMACNA members across the country about programs, services and issues.
Personally, Palmerick said he’s a big fan of the association’s New Horizons Foundation, which sponsors studies on issues in the HVAC industry.
“Some of the studies they have done have been very helpful to me as a contractor,” he said.
The studies fit in with Palmerick’s view of the industry - and himself.
“If you love this business, you’re a student of it. You never stop learning,” he said.
A third-generation sheet metal worker and accountant as well, Palmerick said he’s learned a lot from his 30-plus years in the business. Among them is the importance of giving duties to capable managers, something he expects to do often during his time as SMACNA president.
“We delegate quite well,” he said. “I carry a laptop with me. I’m always able to stay in touch.”
The company currently has about 200 workers including people involved in production, fabrication, installation, and warehousing and distribution.