It doesn’t have Don Ho, Jack Lord or Elvis Presley hanging around anymore, but Hawaii is still a place many people long to visit.
Members of the Sheet Metal and Air-Conditioning Contractors’ National Association have been fortunate to visit the 50th state many times for the group’s annual convention. They’re returning Oct. 20-Oct. 23 for the group’s 70th gathering.
For this year’s event, the group has booked a bevy of contracting, safety and marketing experts to keep members updated on the latest industry trends and issues. As in recent years, SMACNA has booked two main hotels for the conference, the Wailea Marriott and the Grand Wailea. Sessions and activities will be split between the properties.
The show is not all business, however. The association is bringing in two entertainers to open and close the conference.
From ‘Seinfeld’ to SMACNA
On Oct. 21, SMACNA will present Jason Alexander as the convention’s keynote speaker.
He may be best known as “George Costanza” from the hugely popular 1990s situation comedy “Seinfeld,” but Alexander is an accomplished singer, director, writer, producer and magician.
He found early success on Broadway, appearing in productions written by Neil Simon and Stephen Sondheim. He won a Tony Award in 1989 for his work in “Jerome Robbins’ Broadway.” His television work in the 1980s included commercials for McDonalds and the sitcom “Everything’s Relative.” Alexander also appeared in the movies “Pretty Woman,” “Shallow Hal” and “The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle.”
But for millions of Americans, it is his work as the best friend of comedian Jerry Seinfeld on the NBC-TV comedy “Seinfeld” that is his signature role. The 1989-1998 show made him and the rest of the cast household names and his work on “Seinfeld” still airs on televisions around the world every day.
For his SMACNA appearance, Alexander will play “Donny Clay,” billed as “America’s fourth leading motivational speaker.” Loosely based on real-life motivational speakers such as Dr. Phil McGraw and Tony Robbins, the comedy act showcases his dancing ability and magic skills.
Motown in the Pacific
And Oct. 23, during the convention’s closing dinner, members can hear the Motown-inspired sounds of Australian vocal stars Human Nature.
Brothers Andrew and Michael Tierney with friends Toby Allen and Phil Burton started their first band, the Four Trax, while still in high school in 1989. In 1996, and now known as Human Nature, they released their first album in Australia. The triple-platinum album produced several hit singles, and the group opened for Michael Jackson and Celine Dion while they were touring Australia.
In their native country, they have produced nine albums, 17 Top 40 hits and five that made the country’s Top 10 charts.
While they were popular Down Under, they were little-known in America. That changed in 2008, when the group appeared in Atlantic City, N.J., at the Tropicana casino. A year later, they started a multiyear engagement at the Imperial Palace hotel-casino in the heart of the Las Vegas Strip. Those concerts eventually led to a U.S. tour and PBS television special.
The group recently signed an agreement to appear five days a week at the Venetian hotel-casino in Las Vegas.
Before Human Nature ends the conference, there is a trade show and many educational sessions and contractor forums members can attend. These are among the events scheduled. For the full agenda, including times and locations, go to www.smacna.org/events/annualconvention/.
These sessions are to take place Oct. 21:
During the HVAC Contractors Forum, a panel of project supervisors and superintendents will share how they solve problems out of the office using mobile devices and applications.
Attendees will find out how iPhones and iPads and their related apps make construction procedures more productive. Joe Perraton, president of Point One Media, will facilitate the forum.
During “Marketing Numbers and Well-Designed Websites — Two Keys to Success,” which is part of the Residential Contractors Forum, participants will learn the numbers that connect their marketing investments to their bottom line and how to make the most of those investments.
“If you don’t pay attention to the numbers, you end up with award-winning advertising that doesn’t sell products,” said marketing expert Lorraine Ball, who will lead the session. “You have to decide on the front end what you want to accomplish — how many sales, how many customers, how many phone calls. If you don’t know those numbers on the front end, how will you evaluate performance on the back?”
Ball, who has more than 30 years of marketing experience, will also explore how to make the most of your website. Participants will explore the most common mistakes business owners make when it comes to the Internet — and how to fix them.
Architecture and BIM
The Architectural Contractors Forum will feature Thomas E. Zahner, vice president of operations at A. Zahner Co. in Kansas City, Mo. His session, “BIM — Demystifying Building Information Modeling for the Architectural Sheet Metal Contractor” will explain what it takes to get involved in BIM and how it affects the primary processes of executing an architectural sheet metal construction project.
Learn how one SMACNA industrial contractor improved the accuracy of work performance by applying lean processes, 3-D modeling and pre-fabrication during the Industrial Contractors Forum.
Presenter Bryan Yearout oversees a company with $72 million in annual revenues. A 31-year veteran of the construction industry, he currently runs Yearout Industrial of Albuquerque, N.M. He has managed projects ranging from Nuclear Regulatory Commission construction to commercial construction and office buildings, casinos, hospitality projects and hospitals.
If you’re still not sure how net-zero buildings can make money for their developers, you may want to attend “The Business Case: Zero Net-Energy Buildings.”
Presenter Jerry Yudelson is a professional engineer and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design fellow with more than 25 years of experience with renewable energy, green building design, environmental remediation, and water conservation. He holds a master’s from the University of Oregon and engineering degrees from the California Institute of Technology and Harvard University. He has served on the national board of the U.S. Green Building Council and is an expert in the LEED green building rating system.
Convention locale offers history, beauty
“Maui no ka oi” — Maui is the best — is a Hawaiian phrase often repeated by travel agents and residents of this idyllic island.
And SMACNA must agree, because the association is returning to the island for its 2013 convention.
This 728-square-mile island boasts forest-covered mountains, sandy beaches and grass-covered plains. Perhaps this natural beauty is why, when King Kamehamena united the islands in 1802, he made the Maui city of Lahaina his capital. Today, Maui is an active commercial and tourist center, drawing more than 2 million visitors annually. With an average annual temperature in the mid-70s, it’s not hard to figure out why.
While Maui, along with the “big island” of Hawaii, is probably the best-known island of the chain that makes up the 50th U.S. state, it is actually one of eight islands formed by millions of years of volcanic activity. Each island — Maui, Kahoolawe, Lanai, Molokai, Niihau, Hawaii, Kauai and Oahu — was created at different times, making each one unique in landscape.
Maui was created by the eruption of the now-extinct 5,788-foot Puu Kukui volcano and the long-dormant, 10,023-foot Haleakala, which is now part of a national park. The red soil still shows its volcanic beginnings.
The Hawaiian Islands are one of the most remote chains in the world. For thousands of years, they were barren, until the wind and sea carried a variety of flora and fauna to the islands. By the time the first inhabitants discovered the islands, they were covered with lush valleys and sandy beaches.
Hawaii’s first residents were Polynesians. According to legend, the great Chief Hawaii Loa guided these travelers from Southeast Asia to the islands. Using the star Arcturus as a compass, they were led to the “heavenly homeland of the north.” They brought with them many of the flowers and plants that are considered “native” to Hawaii: plumeria, pineapples, orchids and mangoes.
For more than 5,000 years, these people traveled the sea, also settling on the islands of Fiji, Micronesia, Samoa and Indonesia.
In 1779, British Capt. James Cook sailed into Kealakekua Bay, opening the islands to visitors. Legend has it future King Kamehamena took note of Cook’s men and their weapons and battle tactics. He used this new knowledge in a war to unite the islands as part of his kingdom.
Following this battle, the Hawaiian Islands became a peaceful place for many years. In the 19th century, the Maui city of Lahaina was a whaling capital, attracting sailors from around the world. Today the city is registered as an historic place.
Today, the old mixes with the new in Maui. Many parts of the island are tourist meccas, and new golf courses, hotels and condos are not far from the historic mansions and settlements of the island’s first visitors. Tours of a number of these structures are available.
Whether you’re into hiking, biking, swimming or golf, Maui offers plenty to do. The island is home to more than a dozen golf courses, including the north and south courses of the Makena Resort. These courses host the Hawaii State Open. Golf experts say the north course is laid out to make visitors feel comfortable amid the natural surroundings. They say the course is distraction free, unless you are bothered by beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean and sandy beaches. The south course is a par-72, 6,739-yard park with rolling fairways and views of the mountains.
Another group of celebrated courses are the “Blue,” “Gold” and “Emerald” courses of Wailea Golf Club. The Blue course is often called “the grand lady” of Maui’s resort courses. It sits amid the upscale architecture of this city. The Gold course is laid out along the lower slopes of south Maui’s Mount Haleakala. The par-72 course was designed to take advantage of the naturally rugged terrain of the region. The Emerald course was designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., and stretches more than 6,800 yards. Officials say it was made to be a “pure golf” course in the middle of a tropical garden.
If golf isn’t your favorite activity, Maui offers other options. The Maui Ocean Center is one of the largest aquariums in the world, with more than 50 marine habitats on display. The center also contains a large ocean exhibit and another one focusing on whales.
Also popular is Oheo Gulch, also known as “The Seven Sacred Pools.” Situated on the Hana Highway, the gulch contains a number of connected waterfalls and pools, eventually leading into the Pacific Ocean. The area is a good place for swimming.
If you’re a lover of art, visit the Hana Coast Gallery, called one of the best such places in the state. The gallery contains furniture made from extinct wood and a large collection of feather art.
Sugar has been one of Maui’s main exports for centuries, and that heritage is celebrated at the Alexander & Baldwin Sugar Museum. The smell of sugar cane hangs in the air as visitors learn about the history of one of the state’s most important cash crops.
Maui is full of natural beauty, but among the most beautiful areas is Iao Valley State Park, highlighted by the Iao Needle. The 2,000-foot mountain peak ranks among the island’s most-photographed images. The park contains several routes that visitors can take to hike to the needle. It also has picnic areas and gardens. The valley was the site of a battle centuries ago. Some locals believe the area remains haunted by those who lost their lives.
Maui’s celebrated cuisine runs the gamut. Chain restaurants such as Hard Rock Cafe mix with independent establishments. Hawaiian food is available at many hotels through a replica of the traditional Hawaiian luau. Asian food is also very popular, which is not surprising considering the island’s proximity to Japan. Another common Hawaiian cooking style, known as “Pacific Rim,” combines Asian and Western cuisine.
Of course, the Hawaiian Islands are known for fresh seafood, but many food experts also say the island’s farms produce delicious vegetables as well. The Maui onion is one example. Very sweet, it is similar to the Vidalia onions of Georgia.
As for seafood, mahi-mahi remains a perennial best-seller. Other popular creatures of the sea include hebi (short-bill spearfish), nairagi (striped marlin), kajiki (Pacific Blue marlin), or onago, a ruby snapper.
Howard Stine sees signs of recovery as association president
His year as SMACNA president felt like a fast one, but Howard Stine said he liked every moment of the experience.
“It’s been really great, and I have gained a great deal of knowledge from my travels across the country — and input from Canada, too.”
Despite a year of heavy travel visiting contractors across North America, the 69-year-old executive vice president at Charles E. Jarrell Contracting Co. Inc. doesn’t seem tired at all and is as upbeat as he was a year ago, before he took on the position as SMACNA president.
Stine said he enjoyed his time visiting with member companies, and it helped that his wife, Jeri, was often able to join him. The couple visited California, Texas, Illinois, Indiana, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, among other states. Washington, D.C., was also a frequent stop.
“I enjoyed getting to know a number of the chapters and our counterparts in different parts of the nation,” he said.
What the interactions with other association members taught him was that there are major regional differences when it comes to the economic health of SMACNA companies.
“I would say it is a gradual recovery,” he said. “In St. Louis, we’ve bounced back. We’re down to below 10 percent unemployment on the sheet metal side and we’re busy in education and health care and some specialty work. Jarrell is in those markets, along with service and renovation work, which is coming back strongly.”
Parts of California, Texas, and the Great Plains states such as Oklahoma also seem to be doing well, he added.
“Overall, I’d say it’s a slow process, but it’s moving toward improvement,” he said.
Stine was the fifth national president to come from the St. Louis SMACNA chapter. Prior presidents from St. Louis included George L. “Butch” Welsch, George Edinger Sr., Lee Schwartz and Les Hundelt. Welsch and Edinger continue to be active in local and national SMACNA organizations.
Stine has logged a 41-year career in the sheet metal industry, 21 of them at St. Louis-based Jarrell. Graduating from the University of Missouri-Rolla — now Missouri University of Science and Technology — with a bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics with an engineering minor, he went on to earn a master’s in engineering management, and was awarded a management engineering professional degree.
But sheet metal wasn’t necessarily where he thought he was headed.
“After I graduated with my master’s, I had many opportunities to choose different industries,” he said. “Petroleum was big back then. I had a couple of marketing opportunities. But Trane Co. recruited at Rolla for a new program that would be a marketing-sales position in the sheet metal and HVAC industry.”
He took the job. Stine went to Trane’s LaCrosse, Wis., headquarters for six-weeks of training before returning to the St. Louis area. It was during this time that he met his wife, Jeri. For several years, he was the manager at Progress Air, a local residential sheet metal contractor. He then took a position at commercial and industrial contractor System Air. After that, he accepted a job as vice president at Jarrell, where he has been ever since.