Want to inspire pride in your employees? Take a tip from the sheet metal industry.

When one thinks of pride and passion, sheet metal isn’t usually the first industry to come to mind. As we become more computerized as a society, the value of working with our hands is being tossed by the wayside. In the sheet metal industry, I can see this isn’t the case.

I’ve been working on the sheet metal account since I started at Imagine Marketing. To most people, it may not be the most exciting of clients. I, however, love working on this account. I’ve been reminded of the importance of industry and manufacturing to the American and world economies. I’ve gone back to my blue collar roots and working with a group of people I can relate to. Most importantly, I’ve learned that pride and passion are the norm when it comes to sheet metal.

Last week, I attended the award ceremony for the Annual International Sheet Metal Competition hosted by the International Training Institute (ITI) for the sheet metal and air conditioning industry. I was really excited to be a part of it and to see the top apprentices in the industry recognized amongst their peers.

As winners were announced at the banquet, entire tables of their fellow apprentices would stand and applaud. Even if they were competing against each other in certain categories, they were still excited when one of their own won. One winner of the night told us that her instructors, retired and working, had been calling her all night as they anxiously awaited her results back home. There was a level of support and pride that night (and throughout the whole competition, really) that you don’t often see.

I also had the chance to speak to a couple of apprentices from Hawaii. They told me how they were excited to be at the competition and be amongst their union brothers and sisters. They felt like they were representing not only their local union, but the people they worked for and the state of Hawaii. They loved the competitive spirit and the collaboration that came with it.

As I recounted my night to some co-workers the next morning, Megan brought up a good question: What does the sheet metal industry do to cultivate that sense of pride and passion? From apprentices, to journeymen, to contractors who have been in the business since it started, they almost all have this sense of pride and passion to move forward when it comes to sheet metal.

My opinion is that the pride comes from having something tangible to show for your hard work. We are so reliant on computers to do the work for us, it’s easy to forget how good it feels to work with your hands and accomplish something. My other opinion is that the sheet metal workers understand what they do ultimately affects lives, and we rely on them. (And if you don’t think what they do is important, I’d like to see you get through a Las Vegas summer without air conditioning!)

How can you mimic this sense of pride and passion in your business? It’s simple: give your employees ownership. Give them a project to work on together that will benefit your customers. Get them involved with local groups or charities. Any task that is going to ultimately benefit others is going to make them proud of themselves and proud to be a part of your company.

Nadia Zerka serves as account executive for Imagine Marketing.
Contact Nadia at nzerka@imnv.com.

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