SMACNA and the New Horizons Foundation Issue Landmark Report on the Productivity Impact of COVID-19

July 29, 2020

Research shows rising costs, diminished productivity in the industry

Chantilly, Va. (July 29, 2020) – The Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association(SMACNA), the leader in promoting quality and excellence in the sheet metal and air conditioning industry, announced its member foundation and premier research entity, the New Horizons Foundation, has issued a new project study addressing the productivity impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) across the sheet metal and HVAC industry.

Before New Horizons Foundation issued its findings, no specific resource and data existed to aid contractors in quantifying the cost impacts of lost productivity working under pandemic-driven work protocols.

“The report highlights important data that can help our members better understand quantitative impacts of the pandemic, accurately advise their customers, and adjust their future project bids as needed, ensuring members have a best practices approach to working in the new normal,” said Guy Gast, Chair of the New Horizons Foundation and President – Iowa Division at The Waldinger Corporation.

Through data collection focused on two key areas: 1) mitigation tracking (the added time on site access, fit-for-duty, personal protective equipment, cleaning and protocols); and 2) productivity benchmarking (lost time in actual performance of the work) of industry professionals, New Horizons Foundation and its partners quantified the magnitude of time invested in pandemic-related productivity losses. Key findings include:

  • Based on information collected from sheet metal, HVAC and mechanical contractors, 8.7% of hours available on projects to do productive work are lost due to mitigation requirements such as personal protective equipment management, cleaning and disinfection, access rules, and extra administration time.
  • There is a 9.2% average productivity impact — time lost in installation labor — and an 8.7% mitigation impact on sheet metal, HVAC and mechanical contractor productivity as a result of the pandemic, resulting in 17.9% productivity impact.
  • There are 85 minutes of lost productivity per day per employee’s 8-hour work period.
  • The financial impact of productivity losses can take as long as three to six months to fully play out in a company’s finances.

In addition to highlighting the quantitative impact of the pandemic, the report also includes a roadmap to help members adapt to the new industry landscape — noting that companies with pandemic mitigation processes in place saw lower productivity losses.

The report is a joint effort between SMACNA’s New Horizons Foundation and ELECTRI International, the National Electrical Contractors Association’s (NECA) foundation. The Executive Summary of the report can be found here.

Questions regarding this New Horizons Foundation project and report should be directed to Thomas Soles, Executive Director, New Horizons Foundation. He can be contacted via email,, or phone, 703-402-7395.


SMACNA is an international trade association representing 3,500 contributing contractor firms and is a leader in promoting quality and excellence in the sheet metal and air conditioning industry. SMACNA members are responsible for effectively delivering the clean air Americans breathe in offices, homes, and hospitals; for many of the attractive facades you see on today’s stadiums and office buildings; and for the comfortable, healthy, and safe living environments in which our citizens live out their daily lives. SMACNA has national offices in Chantilly, Va., outside of Washington, D.C., and on Capitol Hill. For more information, visit

The New Horizons Foundation is a sheet metal and HVAC industry initiative founded and initially funded by SMACNA.

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