SACRAMENTO, California – CAL SMACNA is proud to launch the “Choose Bigger California” industry recruitment campaign today. This campaign is designed to increase awareness of the rewarding careers in the sheet metal and HVAC industry for students pursuing either college or non-college pathways. 

CAL SMACNA is joined with SMART in connecting this campaign to our local JATCs for students interested in apprenticeships.  The “Choose Bigger California” campaign includes a strong visual and online presence with collateral print materials that will inform and connect the next generation of workers (including bilingual outreach to parents and counselors) to proud careers in both management and the skilled trades. 

The volunteer members of CAL SMACNA’s Industry Recruitment and Promotion Committee worked over the last 18 months at the direction of the Board of Directors and under the guidance of CAL SMACNA President Duane Davies (NABCO) and Committee Chair Phill Phillips (Southland Industries) to produce this new and exciting industry campaign with our contractor Nehlsen Communications.  Thank you to Phill Phillips, Chair (Southland Industries), Carna Blau (United Mechanical), Philip Bonney (Xcel Mechanical), Stan Capelli (Tri-Counties SMACNA), Kathy de Jong (Bay Area SMACNA), Mitch Hoppe (Melrose Metal Products, Inc.), Drew Miles (Tru-Duct, Inc.), Susan Nichol (Cold Craft, Inc.), and Brad Young (Wittler-Young Co. Inc.). 

The following is what was released this morning to a broad list of industry trade press, California media organizations and K-12 academic and career counseling points of contact:

The Los Angeles Rams’ SoFi Stadium, Salesforce Tower and Pixar Animation Studios couldn’t be more structurally different. But one thing they all have in common? The use of sheet metal and HVAC professionals in their construction.

The California sheet metal industry prides itself on recruiting the brightest talent to design and build everything from museums and entertainment venues to hospitals and high-rises throughout the state. And they’re looking for the next group of young, hungry individuals ready to enter a career with unlimited benefits — whether through the sheet metal HVAC apprenticeship program or as a degree-holding professional.

To help generate awareness of and interest in a career in the skilled trades, the California chapter of the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (CAL SMACNA) has launched Choose Bigger California, a recruitment program for industry professionals both in the field and in the office.

“Maintaining a legacy of skilled talent in the construction industry is essential to economic growth, as well as public health and safety. We’re excited to launch this new initiative to continue the excellence and quality of workmanship our state and country is accustomed to,” said Chris Walker, CAL SMACNA executive vice president. “Our association represents the interests of more than 600 union sheet metal and air conditioning contractors throughout California, and we’re committed to investing in the resources that will provide rewarding opportunities to bright young men and women to keep the pride of our industry moving forward into the 21stcentury.”

How does the program work?

Choose Bigger California was designed with two distinct audiences in mind: apprenticeship candidates and students who are working toward or have obtained a college degree. 

Apprenticeship. Here, potential applicants to the apprenticeship program can browse an overview of a career in California’s sheet metal industry, including average wages, career benefits and requirements of a successful candidate. After five years of paid hands-on training in a state-of-the-art training center, apprentices earn journeyperson status.

“We have a great pension, we have a great salary as journeymen, we’re in a membership that’s 6,100 members strong,” said Mike Debellis, a 2010 graduate of the Local 105 JATC. “We do a lot of different projects, from high-profile tenant improvement, remodels, retrofit, new construction — the list goes on. Apprenticeship programs are great for men and women that are looking for opportunities to advance themselves and pursue a career path that extends 30 years.”

College degree. Those with a college degree can discover how to use their education in a challenging and rewarding field. Once on the site, students can filter opportunities in the sheet metal industry by type of degree, interest or career options, like design engineer or financial controller.

The recruitment campaign also extends to the parents, school counselors and other influencers in a student’s life. Even if a student isn’t actively looking for a career, it’s possible someone they trust can guide them to choose a bigger future for themselves among one of the industry’s many diverse career specialties. In the coming months, each target audience will be exposed to Choose Bigger California messaging through various digital platforms. With careful monitoring and proven strategies, getting more students on the path to a bigger future will become an achievable goal.

Creating community and health-focused solutions

Sheet metal HVAC professionals are fiercely proud of the iconic buildings they’ve helped design, deliver and maintain. But their work runs deeper than the visual beauty visitors see on the outside. Members of the sheet metal industry also create and install the high-efficiency indoor air systems that are essential to achieving energy efficiency and a healthier indoor environment for all.

“Sheet metal professionals are tasked with finding sustainable solutions that not only make a building look beautiful on the outside, but also improve indoor air quality for the people working and living in those buildings,” Walker said. “A good mechanical system makes up the lungs of a building, which is essential to the health of the occupants.”

Earlier this month, Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill 841 into law, which will make public school air safer to breathe and water safer to drink — all while reducing energy bills. Among other things, the new law will help fund the assessment, repair and replacement of inefficient ventilation systems and provide new filters to reduce exposure to COVID-19 and wildfire smoke. Skilled and trained sheet metal professionals have been identified for this important public health effort.

“California has always been a leader in indoor air quality (IAQ) policy and initiatives,” said Phil Phillips, Vice President of Operations at Southland Industries, one of the nation’s largest MEP building systems experts. “For a long time, we’ve recognized the impact of poor IAQ on development and learning within our schools. In the current environment, there’s an additional pressing need to ensure good ventilation in the classroom to protect our students and teachers. I find it incredibly rewarding to be involved in an industry on the front line of addressing this important concern.”

Whether you’ve graduated from high school or college or are just deciding on a career path, choose bigger with a career in California’s sheet metal HVAC industry. Visit for more information or to apply.