MINNEAPOLIS — Spiral Duct Manufacturers Association members found themselves confronting beliefs about younger workers and generational touchstones during the group’s annual summer meeting.

The association came to Minneapolis May 4-6 to discuss the state of the spiral ductwork fabrication industry. They heard from Sarah Sladek, the CEO of XYZ University and an expert on the millennials and post-millennial or generation Z young people just starting to enter the workforce.

To demonstrate how different each generation is, Sladek asked SPIDA members to form groups based on their generation: baby boomers, generations X and Z and discuss their cultural touchstones and memories. Most baby boomers recalled the 1969 moon landing as the significant event of their youth, while gen X picked the explosion of the Challenger space shuttle in 1986. For the millennials, the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks were the most memorable event.

With such disparate events and experiences, it’s no wonder many younger workers don’t feel like they belong at their workplace, Sladek said.

Attendees also heard from Bill Sternard, the executive vice president of steel distributor Viking Materials Inc., who gave his analysis of the market. The gist? With a new administration in the White House discussing tariffs and other trade issues, “It’s very hard to guess where steel is going,” Sternard said.

The meeting included a presentation on customer relationship management, roundtable discussions on industry issues and a small trade show and reception.

SPIDA’s 2017 meeting ended with a chance to watch the Minnesota Twins play the Boston Red Sox from the comfort of a Target Field Skyline suite, sponsored by Minneapolis-based Sheet Metal Connectors.

SPIDA’s next major meeting will take place in January before the start of the 2018 AHR Expo in Chicago. The 2018 summer meeting is planned for New Orleans.