New Horizons Foundation Selects Projects for 2020

November 15, 2019

The New Horizons Summit Council met recently in Boston to review and select foundation projects for 2020. The Council approved five of the ten proposals presented:

Addressing the Skilled Labor Shortage through Increased Workforce Diversity: Exploring Incentives and Deterrents to HVAC Industry Employment

This project will investigate current practices in HVAC and sheet metal workforce development with the goal to expand the workforce by gender-, race- and ethnicity-focused diversification. The results will inform current hiring trends as well as best practices in attracting and recruiting a diverse workforce.

An Investigation into the Best Practices for the Successful Development & Transition of Field Leaders

Despite field leaders’ significant contributions to company success, top management often neglect to plan for their departure. This research will address the following questions:

  1. What is the best method for accelerating the growth of incoming field leaders?
  2. What best practices are companies using to facilitate the transition of current knowledge and skills to future field leaders?

Human Dimensions Assessment of Top-Performing Personnel – Pilot Study

This research project will pilot a nationwide benchmark of human dimensions for project managers to identify what is “best-in-class” for this job function. The study will help SMACNA members with hiring new personnel, internal promotion decisions and talent development.

Managing the Risks of Today’s Projects

Over the past two decades, three significant trends have converged to increase the risk profile for firms in the HVAC and sheet metal construction industry.

Owners of construction projects are focused on compressing schedules for their projects. At the same time, they are pushing for earlier cost certainty. As a result, contractors are often pressured to commit to a contract cost as early as schematic design, with little negotiation for addressing late changes. This has also led to cuts in design budgets and schedules, leading to the delegation of design to the trade contractor. The trade contractor is now in the position of owning more risk than at any time in the past.

This project will identify and describe these risks and will introduce methods for identifying and eliminating or minimizing their effects.

Organizational Adoption of New Technologies

In today’s rapidly evolving construction market, it is critical for sheet metal and HVAC contractors to maintain their competitive advantage. They need to know how to successfully adopt new technologies and methods across the organization.

This research project will address the question of why some companies are able to successfully adopt and implement new technologies and methods, while other companies struggle. The results are expected to demonstrate learnable approaches, skillsets, training modules and leadership techniques that can be used to achieve successful– and profitable–outcomes when introducing new technologies.