As you probably noticed from the cover, January means it’s AHR Expo time.

For Snips staffers, that means several days out of the office traversing a cavernous convention hall and attending numerous seminars to bring you the latest products and trends in the HVAC and sheet metal industry.

This year’s expo is in New York City - the first time the show has visited the Big Apple since 1991. I’m excited about visiting Manhattan, a place I’ve only been to once, and that was for only about 10 hours.

But some don’t feel quite the same, I’ve discovered. As the show date approached, I heard some grumbling that New York would be expensive and comparisons were made to the last New York show, when apparently, the weather was especially bad. Some also said the union work rules in effect at Javits Convention Center are especially onerous for exhibitors.

There’s no denying New York is among the world’s most expensive cities, and January weather can be snowy and cold. But the same claim can be made about Chicago’s weather, and while cheaper than New York, Chicago is no bargain.

But Chicago is the “standard” against which most AHR Expos are judged, it seems, and certainly the most popular location. I wasn’t writing about the heating or air-conditioning industry 17 years ago, so I have no firsthand knowledge of what the last Manhattan show was like. But the population concentration in that part of the country is so great, expo organizers can’t - and shouldn’t - ignore it.

Snips will be exhibiting as part of parent company BNP Media’s booth, No. 1728. It’s on the third level of the convention center. Associate editor James J. Siegel and I won’t be there all the time, but please stop by if you’re around. We always like to meet readers.

Letters - Sheet metal was right choice

After reading your comments on the August Editor’s Page (“Construction workers can’t get satisfaction, it seems”), I could not wait to tell you how satisfied I’ve been with my choice to have a career in sheet metal.

On Aug. 14, 1972, I started working as a 17-year-old apprentice with a high school education for the R.B. Hayward Co. - at the time one of the largest, and still one of the oldest, sheet metal companies in the Chicagoland area.

When I started, I did not know a drive cleat from a piece of band iron, even though my father had been a tinner for over 40 years. Before then, I was making pizzas at a local restaurant.

When I graduated, my father asked if I wanted to be a sheet metal worker.

After he explained I would make more than the $1.75 an hour I was making, I jumped in.

It was one of the best decisions I ever made. Through the generous, kind and knowledgeable people associated with the Hayward Co. and a great Sheet Metal Workers union Local 73 apprentice program, I was able to rise through the ranks as a journeyman, lead man, foreman, superintendent, project manager and am currently vice president.

This industry gave my wife (Linda) of 35 years and me the opportunity to raise four children, getting two through college and one through junior college, after which he decided he wanted to come work with me.

I suggested he stay and complete his engineering degree and be “better” than Dad. He insisted, became an apprentice and eight years later is one of our company’s major assets. He’s raising a family of his own now, and is well on his way to being “better” than Dad.

We were fortunate to have my father with us long enough to have three generations of sheet metal workers alive at one time; he was very proud of his son and grandson.

Proud? Yes. Satisfied? Yes. Hard work, pride and challenges have made my career choice an exceptional experience and I express that at every opportunity. When the AC goes out when it’s 95 degrees or the furnace when it’s 20 below, or the exhaust fan serving a hospital isolation ward fails, whom do they call? A sheet metal worker.

Jeff Laskey

Vice president

Hayward Co.

Schiller Park, Ill.