2010 PiNP Conference

Conference Presentations

Mentor Tomorrow’s Leaders

(A Message from SMACNA’s President)

Inviting apprentices to this year’s Partners in Progress Conference certainly shook things up a bit and broke with tradition. Apprentices participating in the International Training Institute’s annual Apprentice Contest attended educational sessions with contractors and business agents/managers. They told us things we didn’t know and a few things perhaps some of us didn’t want to hear.

Their participation served two purposes. First, we hoped to open their eyes to this industry’s great opportunities and many career paths. And, second, we hoped to motivate them to develop their skills and become industry leaders, if they so desired.

We encouraged them to join in the discussions. Many did just that and we appreciate their views. We needed and respected their input as we discussed opportunities and worked on solutions to our industry’s challenges. Innovative thinking and collaboration require trust and we’re glad these guys and gals trusted us enough to speak their minds.

We gladly listened and heard their excitement and enthusiasm about learning new things and new technology. We also heard about their frustration when we do not embrace new technology quickly enough.

As our keynote speaker Mark Breslin concluded the program, he challenged us to go home and do just one thing to make a difference.

My message to those of you who attended the conference is to encourage and mentor these apprentices and others like them. The same message applies to those of you who did not attend. Help these young people discover the opportunities our industry offers. Together we must recognize their talents and provide them with what they need to grow. We must give them the permission to succeed in this field and appreciate and build from what they do best.

It is our responsibility to make today’s apprentices tomorrow’s leaders. That’s a big job, but I have confidence that we can do it.


John Lindemulder Sr.
SMACNA President

Opening Remarks by Michael J. Sullivan

Good morning. We start today, as it should be, in partnership at both the national and local level.

Every two years, SMACNA’s President and I have extended our greetings before getting into the important work of these conferences.

John Lindemulder, this year’s president, shares a common interest in moving our industry to new heights.

And that goal is being advanced through the efforts of the Best Practices Market Expansion group and the Conference Planning Committee. They have done an outstanding job in putting together this year’s conference – as is most evident from this year’s level of attendance, particularly significant in view of the current economic situation.

Yesterday, you jumped right into this two-and-a-half-day conference with a full day of breakout sessions. These sessions also took on a new look with the addition of a much larger number of apprentices participating.

That dimension to our bi-annual conferences places even greater importance on the vital role our rising stars will play in advancing the future of this industry.

ITI, along with tremendous support from Local 88, did a magnificent job in making the apprentice competition a major industry event.

Today, this is when the rubber hits the road. All of us have to stretch our thinking to explore the challenges that confront our industry and generate ways to seek solutions that help us grow our respective memberships and make our jobs easier, profitable and more enjoyable.

In many respects, our industry has benefited from these conferences by raising the level of cooperation at both the national and local levels. However, we still must recognize the need to prepare ourselves for ever-changing technology and the opportunities to enter new markets.

In the past, we’ve asked ourselves to think outside the box. That’s ok, but that often implies that somewhere out there our industry’s salvation and the solutions to our problems exist.

Most of today’s business issues, however, can be solved far more simply and directly. For example, almost any problem you are facing today at work, I am willing to wager, came as a result of some change.

Either the market changed, your sales rep changed the deal, your company changed the specs, or something else changed. Thinking outside the box only raises our hopes for an easier solution. Instead, what we should be doing is simply going hard after a better understanding of the problem – finding out what changed, and then you are almost there creating new opportunities.

During the past 10 years, we’ve experienced change in the wrong direction. I doubt if there are any in this room that can truthfully say they are better off today than they were in 2000 when we held our first partnership conference.

Your union partner shares that view and our members who are not working have definitely felt it even more. The bad times are not over, but both sides know things will turn around.

We may be down, but we’re not out!

That being the case, we need to be prepared to get a bigger share of the work that is our jurisdiction.

Essentially, I believe this is a jobs conference. Each of us must take something from this conference that drives us to be prepared for the work that’s coming.

Last night, you saw another reason why the solutions to our problems are self-evident. The 320 some apprentices who competed in the international competition are all winners. They are this industry’s most valuable resource. They have, as we did on our first job, high expectations. They want to succeed. They want to be well-paid with good benefits and the opportunity to grow. We must make sure they have that opportunity.

Let’s keep their future and ours in mind as we leave this conference as even more valued partners.

Thank you and now on with the business of the day.