2008 is a presidential election year, which is great news for political news junkies, but it also means a lot of people will be tired of hearing about the candidates long before the ballots are cast Nov. 4.

I’m not going to tell anyone how to vote, but for those of you who think national elections have little impact on your daily lives or businesses should consider the energy bill signed by President George W. Bush in December.

If you visitwww.snipsmag.comand read our Today’s News Update section, we followed this story online throughout December. In the major media, much of the focus was on increasing the fuel economy standards for automobiles and requiring the use of renewable energy. However, buried within the bill were provisions that would allow the U.S. Energy Department to establish regional energy-efficiency standards for HVAC equipment.

That was a major change for an industry long used to one federal rule. And coming so soon after increases in efficiency standards for furnaces and air conditioners, much of the industry was upset. The Heating, Airconditioning and Refrigeration Distributors International, Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors, and the Air Conditioning Contractors of America lobbied hard to have the provisions removed.

The major equipment manufacturers, however, took a different tack. Although they too initially opposed the rule change, they realized it was very likely to be enacted anyway. They decided to work with the bill’s sponsors to make it as favorable to the industry as possible.

The final version of the bill authorizes regional equipment standards. Regardless of how you feel about that issue, it proves the need to become involved in the lawmaking process, whether in your community or at the national level. Every day, politicians are considering laws that could affect your business, whether its local zoning or federal regulations.

Officials with HARDI acknowledge they were not used to taking such an active role on Capitol Hill. But knowing who your allies are, whether it’s on a city council or in Congress, is a vital part of being a successful business owner.


This letter was sent in response to “Construction workers can’t get satisfaction, it seems,” Editor’s Page, August 2007.

What could be a more soul-satisfying job than sheet metal? At the end of each day, you not only feel a sense of accomplishment, but you can physically see it.

We, as sheet metal workers, are afforded tangible results from our labors. Sure, some of it is dirty and tough work. Some projects really exercise your mind. This trade is challenging. It is also a trade where we turn raw materials into functioning products.

Over the years the trade has changed. I come from the days where we used “tinner’s rivets.” We fabricated blowpipe and dust-collection systems this way. Now, tinner’s rivets are a thing of the past.

But a good layout person is still a viable force in the trade.

I have been bending metal since the U.S. Navy sent me to ship fitter school in 1970. It has been a good trade for my family and me. It is a trade you can work in almost anywhere in the world.

All in all, this is a great trade with boundless opportunities. Why wouldn’t a person want their children to be a part of it? I have always been proud to call many sheet metal workers my friends. They are my kind of people. We are the best.

Derk Akerson

Salinas, Calif.