The Mechanical Insulators LMCT recently completed a successful Firestop Market Recovery Program.
The LMCT Firestop Market Recovery Program is designed to bring together union leadership and contractors to gain market share and increase manhours in the growing firestopping and smoke seal sector.
Participating in the event were Insulators Locals 23 and 38, along with several of their signatory contractors. The program took place from June 27 to 30 in in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
As part of the four-day program, an assessment of the existing market was conducted and compared to other areas and best practices to ensure a customized approach appropriate for the market was developed. Firestop contractor techniques and development were also addressed.
Upon completion of the program, all parties gained knowledge of firestopping, its intended purpose, where to bid it and how to complete it economically to increase the market share.
The first two days of the event were dedicated to the union leadership, while the last two days was focused on the contractors. All parties are welcome to attend the entire four days, and most did.
For all involved, the course was thorough and covered a vast array of topics. Among the items discussed were:
- Basic Firestop concepts
- Local market analysis
- FM/UL contractor qualifications
- Bidding techniques
- Training concepts for the Local and contractors
- Basic understanding of building codes and fire codes
- Approved firestop systems overview
- QA/QC modes
- Developing relationships with fire inspection community
- Where to locate firestop in specifications
- Salesmanship from both the workers and contractors
- Many other topics too numerous to list.
Just as important was the dialog between all the participants about their prior experiences, good and bad, to help develop a strategy for future initiatives.
This program successfully brought together the labor management partnership better help them understand the commitment required, along with everyone’s responsibilities to control the local firestop market.
The Local 38 and 23 firestop market has a history of success and failure. For over 30 years, the union industry has been plagued with reasons and justifications not to control this market. Now, all parties agree it is time to change the paradigms.
As the course discussed, firestop systems are the work of the Mechanical Insulators. First and foremost, firestop specifications, in most cases are within the Mechanical Insulation specifications. The firestop work techniques, materials and timing are similar to mechanical insulation. Also, Insulator firestop training programs are superior to those of the other trades and should be utilized for this very specific skill.
Representatives of Superior Industrial Insulation company, Tom Dake Sr. and Tom Dake Jr., facilitated the event. Superior Insulation, a signatory Mechanical Insulation shop, made a commitment to be a firestop contractor about 15 years ago and today, are viewed as one of the nation’s preeminent firestop contractors.
As a signatory contractor with Insulators Local 3 and Local 50, they worked with their Local union and addressed the many area logistical obstacles and barriers to become one of the recognized leaders in the industry.
As they discussed, the phrase “it can’t be done” was replaced by the phrase “Insulators are Firestop Experts,” which Tom Dake Jr. infectiously repeated to the participants. He explained how confidence is needed to successfully secure the industry.
“You are Firestop experts,” he said. “Speak, act and conduct yourself as such from this day forward.”
LMCT Executive Director Pete Ielmini credited the event co-hosts, Insulators Local 38 Business Manager Local Tip Wright and Local 23 Business Manager William McGee, for their understanding of the groundbreaking concept of bringing their union leadership together with their contractors to develop a mutual labor management partnership.
“Their vision of increased market share is paramount to secure work opportunities for their members,” said Ielmini. “Participation of their Local contractors by itself demonstrates the culture of cooperation that is being developed.”
Both respective Local organizers, Ronnie Beverly and Matt Turner, also played a key role in the course, as they deal with non-union employers and the direction needed to control the labor in the market.
The union leadership discussed prior success, failures and obstacles within the current market and the employers presented their concerns with a sense of cooperation. Among the contractors in attendance were:
- IREX/Advanced Specialty Contractors: Matt Spangler, Troy Rominiecki and branch Manager David Cutright.
- Eco Serve Construction: Troy and Angela Blass
- Radar Insulation: Randy Weaver
- Therm-All Inc.: Ronald Tirko.
For the participants, this class is only the beginning of a long journey that will be filled with hard work and cooperation to capture the firestop market.
There are still many aspects that must be addressed, but the program showed everyone involved what can be accomplished through a clearly developed strategy to capture the firestop market.
The Local has to develop the qualified workforce, develop relationships with other building trades representatives and develop relations with fire inspection and building officials. The contractors, for their part, will have to develop inquiries for bid opportunities, increase their bidding techniques and to become a certified competent contractor.
As the late great Green Bay Packers Head Coach Vince Lombardi said, “The difference between success and failure is the commitment to excellence.”
The LMCT, Local 38, Local 23 and their signatory contractors are committed to making this program work and taking back the firestop market.
The Firestop Market Recovery Program is not just for Locals 23 and 38.
The LMCT will bring this event to any Local who is willing to host the course and make the commitment to retake the firestop market. However, the host Local will have to bring together their respective local leadership with the physical participation of signatory contractors. Additionally, an honest and realistic market analysis is discussed during the event to collectively develop a strategy of success.
If any Local is interested, please contact Pete Ielmini.