This month, I’m giving most of the Editor’s Page space to Gerry Spanger, who sent in this letter and photo about Nick Carter and the role he played in making Spanger’s sheet metal businesses succeed.

We will try to run all such letters we receive. Send them to Snips magazine, BNP Media, 2401 W. Big Beaver Road, Suite 700, Troy, MI 48084, or e-mail to mcconnellm@bnpmedia.com.

Nick Carter (left) and Gerry Spanger meet in January 1971 at Snips’ Chicago offices. Photo courtesy of Gerry Spanger.

Letters

You asked for a story on Nick Carter, so here is mine.

In 1967, I was running a small sheet metal business in Johannesburg, South Africa, and was having problems finding the hardware I needed to manufacture and install sheet metal ductwork.

I visited the commercial section of the U.S. Embassy and there I found copies of two magazines. One was American Artisan, which ceased publication not long after that; the other was Snips.

I immediately arranged a subscription to both magazines and found Snips in particular to be a complete mine of information, which I then used to acquire a number of agencies from some of the manufacturers who were advertising: Duro Dyne, Gripnail, Arno Tapes and Hardcast, to name a few. We even brought in some Malco tools.

I subsequently purchased a lifetime subscription, which remained in force until I came to the United States. I remember clearly my brother Barry purchased a subscription around 1979. It followed him when he moved to Australia in 1991. He ultimately had to get me to cancel it for him when he left the HVAC industry.

I used to read each issue from cover to cover and, without exception, there was always something new for me to learn, or a new product for me to chase up.

In fact, I believe I can safely say that because of the many new advances in machinery and processes which I found in the magazine and subsequently introduced into the market, the Carters and Snips were indirectly responsible for a substantial modernization of the sheet metal industry in South Africa over that period.

This was the foundation on which I built an importing/distributing company called Europair Africa, which is still very much in existence today.

I first visited the USA in 1969 and had the pleasure of meeting both Ed and Nick Carter in person at the Snips booth at the ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) show, where I was made extremely welcome and was presented with a number of the legendary Snips tie pins, one of which I still have today.

The Carters were very taken with, and proud of, the idea that they had a reader as far away as South Africa and they were both instrumental in helping me to find manufacturers of the components I wanted to buy and invited me to visit them when the expo next came to Chicago.

This I did on my next trip to Chicago and I visited their office at Mannheim Road in January 1971 when the photo was taken. It seems both of us had a lot more hair then.

I then began visiting the USA every year and each time, I met up with the Carters. I was treated with the same unfailing courtesy and consideration.

Anytime I needed to find out where to locate anything related to the sheet metal industry, all it took was a phone call to Nick and I got what I needed.

I immigrated to the USA in 1984, and in 1986 when my employer was sold and I was looking for a new job, I will never forget how Nick was instrumental in finding some contacts for me and went out of his way to help me find something, which I eventually did.

My association with Nick continued through the years, even after he had sold his interest in Snips. It was always my pleasure to meet up with him, exchange a few pleasantries and a bit of banter, and, occasionally, lift a jar or two.

As Thomas Keating of Colorado’s Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association chapter said so eloquently in his February letter, he so graciously treated me like I belonged, and I still appreciate it greatly.

Gerry Spanger President EZ-Trap, SlimDuct, Marketair Edison, N.J.