A new direction

In the almost 20 years that I have been writing about this industry, the retirement of many of the skilled trades people and the resulting worker shortage has been a concern. However, as those at the tail end of the baby boom generation are now reaching retirement age, this industry is also going to see a significant change in leadership over the next few years.

Every time I go to a contractors meeting, a trade show or an industry conference, I look around the room and see a lot of people with white hair that are around the same age as I am – 62. It’s my generation, and we’re all going to be leaving the industry over the next few years. There are a remarkable number of people in this industry that are all from the same generation, running contracting businesses, in wholesale, manufacturing or associations.

Two major association leaders – Mechanical Contractors Association of Canada CEO Richard McKeagan and Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada president Warren Heeley have announced their intentions to retire next year. Longtime Canadian Construction Association president Michael Atkinson has just retired.

In many ways, I think this is a good thing as it will bring new blood into these key leadership roles. At the same time, I’ve never felt that the current generation of leaders is an “old boys network” such as that which existed when I came into the industry. Or perhaps it’s simply difficult to see people of my generation that way; we like to think we’ve done better. These are the people that worked so diligently to rid the industry leadership of that image, the results of which we see every day in just about every company and association. I think that my generation better understood the importance of mentoring, something that so many of us growing up in the 50s, 60s and 70s never had.

Many of these people will be difficult to replace. The combination of mechanical aptitude and good business sense needed to run a successful mechanical contracting business is becoming increasingly rare.

Fresh leadership tends to take companies and organizations in new directions. It’s going to be an interesting few years.

With that, I would like to wish all our readers and advertisers a wonderful Christmas and all the best, in their businesses and personal lives, for 2018.


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ASHRAE Winter Conference
ASHRAE Winter Conference, Palmer House, Chicago, Illinois. Please visit www.ashrae.org.

AHR Expo
Jan. 20th, 2018

McCormick Place, Chicago, Illinois. Please visit www.ahrexpo.com or call 203-221-9232.

Canadian Construction Association 100th Annual Conference
Mar. 12 - 15th, 2018

Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, Banff, Alta. Please visit www.cca-acc.com or call 613-236-9455 for information.

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