SMACNA knows that a conference can’t be all work and no play. That is why the association usually plans a number of educational sessions and meetings along with big name speakers and entertainers.

Former Arkansas Republican Gov. Mike Huckabee is the featured opening speaker Oct. 11. His run for the White House in 2007 led him to a high-profile media career, such as hosting “Huckabee” on the Fox News Channel.


SMACNA knows that a conference can’t be all work and no play.

That is why the association usually plans a number of educational sessions and meetings along with big name speakers and entertainers. This year’s conference is no exception.

Attendees will get to hear from a former presidential candidate, a television sitcom star and some of the sheet metal industry’s top instructors when the 66th annual Sheet Metal and Air-Conditioning Contractors’ National Association convention returns to the Desert Springs JW Marriott Resort & Spa Oct. 11-14 in Palm Desert, Calif.

Comedian Bill Engvall will close the convention Oct. 14 by entertaining SMACNA members. Engvall is best known for his television shows “Blue Collar TV” and “The Bill Engvall Show.”

Featured guests

SMACNA will have a big-name guest to open and close its convention this year. The first special guest set to speak at the opening session Oct. 11 is former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

Huckabee served two four-year terms as governor of Arkansas before setting his sights on the White House in 2007. While Huckabee has had a successful political career, including being named one of the nation’s top five governors by Time magazine, it was his presidential bid that put him on the nation’s political stage.

Although John McCain won the Republican primary for president in 2007, Huckabee gave him a run by winning the Iowa GOP caucus as well as contests in West Virginia, Kansas, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Louisiana and his home state of Arkansas.

Huckabee’s success on the campaign trail allowed him to use his new political profile to reach even more Americans. He hosts the aptly named “Huckabee” on the Fox News Channel and the “Huckabee Report” on ABC Radio.

The former governor has also been known to show his musical side. He’s played bass guitar with his band, Capitol Offense.

While it’s not known if Huckabee will entertain audiences with his playing skills, there will definitely be some entertainment at the closing of the SMACNA convention.

On Oct. 14, SMACNA members will be treated to the “Blue Collar” comedy of Bill Engvall. Engvall starred in the Blue Collar Comedy Tour as well as the television series “Blue Collar TV” on the WB network.

Currently, he produces and stars in his own show, “The Bill Engvall Show” on cable channel TBS. He is also filming the movie “Bait Shop” with country singer and actor Billy Ray Cyrus. Besides television and movies, Engvall is a platinum-selling recording artist and author. He has written a number of books including an autobiography, Bill Engvall - Just a Guy.

Thomas Schleifer, Ph.D., will lead a session on surviving the recession at 2 p.m. Oct. 12. He will also host the “Business University and Graduate Reunion at 10 a.m. Oct. 13.”

Down to ‘business'

SMACNA has planned a number of business-development sessions on topics from green building to family business issues.

At 7:30 a.m. Oct 12, these sessions are planned:

• Jeffrey D. Moore, director of Navigant Consulting, will lead “Family Succession Planning.” The session is intended to help contractors plan for their future. Moore will discuss how contractors can plan for business transitions, such as bringing the next generation into leadership roles within the company.

Moore is also set to discuss financial strategies, as well as some of the things owners should think about when implementing a transition strategy, such as taxes and payouts. A repeat of this session will happen at 10 a.m. Oct. 13.

• “Six Steps to Controlling Your Accounts Receivable” will be led by Robert A. Langdon. A certified public accountant, he will share the importance of having timely accounts receivable, and will also discuss how owners can improve their cash flow, return on investment and profits.

Langdon will also discuss methods of identifying good credit risks and ways to retain customers.

This session will be repeated at 2 p.m.

“SMACNA Seismic Restraint Manual Guidelines for Mechanical Systems” will explain how to choose the proper restraints for various conditions as they apply to seismic bracing. This session will be presented by Eli Howard, executive director of SMACNA technical services, and Mark Terzigni, project manager for SMACNA technical services.

A number of topics will be discussed, including the proper selection of reinforcements and how this SMACNA standard relates to other building codes. The presenters will also look to answer common questions about the seismic restraint manual and clarify misunderstood terms.

Attendees of this session will also learn about changes incorporated into the third edition of the manual. The expanded tables regarding cable options and new seismic hazard levels in the SMACNA manual will be discussed.

These sessions will begin at 9:45 a.m.:

• “LEED Building for Sheet Metal and HVAC Contractors” will aim to help contractors decide if pursuing Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified projects is right for their companies.

Led by William A. Lutz, managing consultant for Navigant Consulting, this session will tackle the financial implications of LEED certification. Lutz will use his background in business process design to make sure that contractors understand what LEED is about and what it entails.

• Howard and Terzigni will return to discuss the “SMACNA HVAC Duct Construction Standards.” According to SMACNA officials, the duct construction standard allows for the most cost effective and sustainable use of sheet metal for the energy efficiency market.

Topics in this session will include instruction on rectangular-, round- and flat-oval duct tables. Proper joint, reinforcement and spacing requirements will also be discussed. Presenters will show examples of the selection process for each type of reinforcement, transverse joint and seam type.

A new section of the standard will also be presented. These cover double-wall ductwork, accessory details, expanded TDC/TDF construction tables and expanded long-seam and spiral-seam tables.

• “Developing a Crisis Management Plan” will focus on the newly released document “A Crisis Management Plan for the SMACNA Contractor.” Show organizers said that a consultant will discuss with members how to develop a crisis management plan, as well as “pre-crisis” and “post-crisis” planning.

The business session will also show attendees how to create an emergency plan, the appropriate things to think about when creating the plan, and how to customize a basic program.

• SMACNA’s soon-to-be-revised Cost Reference Manual will be the topic of another session. A panel of SMACNA contractors will lead this session and show attendees the features of the updated version. Features include a new electronic spreadsheet, which SMACNA says will calculate adjustments in the 138 labor unit tables for project types and jobsite conditions.

These sessions are scheduled for 2 p.m.:

• BIM is getting a lot of buzz lately. That may be why SMACNA is presenting “Building Information Modeling, Integrated Project Delivery.” Navigant Consulting’s Bradley T. Johnson will share why he believes the ideal BIM process is integrated project delivery.

Topics of the presentation will include the current status of integrated project delivery and some of the roadblocks to implementing the strategy. This session will be presented again at 10 a.m. Oct. 13.

• “How to Survive a Recession in the Construction Industry - Prospering in a Cyclical Market” will be led by Thomas Schleifer, Ph.D., author of Construction Contractor’s Survival Guide.

Schleifer will explain the current economic conditions and some of the concerns among contractors and those in the construction services business. He will also show attendees how market changes are cyclical and how successful companies are able to stay profitable during an upturn or downturn in the economy.

• Change is going to be the main topic of the program “How Change Management Techniques Can Improve Your Safety Program.” Katherine A. Hart of K.A. Hart and Associates will cover the importance of communicating change when it comes to updating safety procedures.

Hart will explain how contractors can improve their safety programs by addressing the way people within the company deal with change. She will also reveal models that can be used to plan and implement new safety procedures.

• For SMACNA chapter executives only, Moore of Navigant Consulting will return to present “How Can Chapters Get Their Members Involved.”

The purpose of this session is to address how chapter executives can get their members to participate in more training events and chapter activities. This is especially difficult in the current economic climate when contractors do not want to be torn away from their business, Moore says.

Moore will try to show directors how they can offer more to members and how to help them succeed in business.

These presentations will get under way at 10 a.m. Oct. 13:

• Stan Kolbe, SMACNA’s director of legislation, and Dana Thomson, director of political affairs, will lead “An Overview of the New Congress and Congressional Spending: Does It Work For You?”

This session will cover such topics as the $787 billion stimulus bill and the 2010 congressional elections. SMACNA says it is also looking for opinions from members on what has worked with the stimulus package.

• “Construction Coordination Software” will tackle the International Training Institute’s on-the-job training software. Presented by Michael T. Harris and Michael Keane from the ITI, this session will demonstrate the software capabilities, from project management, drafting, fabrication and shop input.

Harris and Keane will also share some of the developments under way for this software.

• Schleifer will return for the “Business University and Graduate Program Reunion” to discuss the state of the industry. This program will also reunite members and prior graduates of SMACNA’s Business Management University and graduate programs.

Tom Piscitelli of Trust Training and Consulting will lead this year’s SMACNA residential contractors forum Oct. 12. The forum will provide SMACNA members with strategies to sell HVAC to consumers.

Forums and special events

SMACNA’s New Horizon’s Foundation will give attendees a look at one of its latest projects at 1:15 p.m. Oct. 13.

• “Kaizen Events - Improving Your Business’ Efficiency in Just One Week” takes a look at a lean production tool intended to eliminate waste and improve job processes. An example of how this lean process has been used in a sheet metal shop will be part of the discussion.

This presentation will include speakers Larry Swanson, president of manufacturing for World Competition Consultants; James Myers, president of Sheet Metal Connectors; and Paul Frascione, project manager of the New Horizons Foundation.

• This year’s architectural forum and HVAC contractors forum will happen at 7:30 a.m. Oct. 12.

The architectural forum will give attendees a look at the International Training Institute’s new soldering certification program as well as a new fall-protection system. SMACNA will present a panel of architectural contractors to talk about the benefits of soldering certification. Consultants will also be on hand to talk about technologies in fall protection.

“BIM in Practice” is the subject of the HVAC contractors forum. Stephen A. Jones, senior director of business development for McGraw-Hill Corp., will discuss a 2008 BIM survey from the company. Jones will talk about the findings in this report, as well as BIM in reference to contractor arrangements and productivity.

• SMACNA’s residential contractors and industrial contractors forums will both occur at 9:45 a.m. Oct. 12.

“Best Practices to Increase Sales, Margins and Close Rates” is the subject of the residential contractor forum. This forum presented by Tom Piscitelli of TRUST Training and Consulting, will give attendees a look at in-home sales practices. Piscitelli will aim to show attendees the tools and strategies involved in obtaining higher close rates and higher profit margins. 

The industrial contractors forum will take a look at welding programs offered by the International Training Institute. SMACNA officials said this forum will cover welding safety and health issues, as well as proper use of respirators, effective engineering controls, and an update on regulations for hexvalent chromium.

For more information on SMACNA’s 2009 convention, write to the association at 4201 Lafayette Center Drive, Chantilly, VA 20151-1209; call (703) 803-2980; fax (703) 803-3732; visit www.smacna.org on the Internet.