On a hot summer day there is nothing better than a good air conditioning system in your office building to make working conditions better.
The same is true in the winter when a good heating system can maintain the temperature at the right level to keep employees happy.If you combine good air conditioning and heating systems with a good plumbing system, a building will result in high productivity because employees will be happy.
Despite the mechanical systems being valuable to the success of an office, you won't see what makes it possible because the pipes, ducts and other items are located in the ceiling and walls and are covered with wallboard or tile. The only way you can get close to a mechanical system is in special rooms with large pieces of equipment, places usually off limits to all but trained personnel.
Making certain that buildings have good mechanical systems is the responsibility of mechanical contractors and this year their group, the Utah Mechanical Contactors Association, is celebrating its 50th anniversary. The association counts as its members 75 percent of the mechanical contractors doing industrial building jobs and 20 percent of the contractors doing residential projects.
Robert G. Bergman became association executive director in 1993 after Avard Booth retired. Originally called the Plumbing, Heating, Cooling Contractors of Utah, the organization was led by Booth for 46 years.
Bergman said the association is the industry's voice in dealing with the public, state and local government, other construction industry groups and labor. The UMCA provides information and educational services to improve member awareness of contracting and technical capabilities and to assure the public that contractors dedicated to efficient and economical installations belong to the group.
A native of Indiana, Bergman graduated from Indiana State University in 1990 with a degree in political science. He worked for the Mechanical Contractors Association of Indiana as a field representative and became involved in recruiting members, labor negotiations and lobbying for legislation. He also served that group as acting director for six months.
He learned that Booth was retiring and while attending a national convention met some members of the search committee from Utah. He previously was interviewed for the same job in Oregon and a month later came to Utah for an interview.
Bergman liked Salt Lake City so much that he told the Oregon people to remove his name from consideration. "It's a small city with a big city attitude," said Bergman, referring to his immediate attachment to Salt Lake City. He since has begun skiing and also likes biking, two pursuits available in Utah.
To illustrate the importance of mechanical contractors, Bergman said they are around when the first dirt is turned and they are still around when the keys are turned over to the building owner. In the interim, they must coordinate their work with other subcontractors, such as electricians, so the construction goes smoothly and can be completed on time.
Before a building takes shape, a mechanical contractor does the site utility work and installs the sewage and water systems. Later comes the rough-in work for the plumbing for bathrooms and kitchens, and when the building starts to take shape the air conditioning and hearing systems are installed.
Bergman said the mechanical systems in a building are about 30 percent of the cost, an indication of the importance of this type of work.
Because plumbing, water and sewage systems are such critical parts of a building, Bergman said the association holds seminars to maintain the professionalism among its members.
In addition to the regular seminars, some of the events to be held in this anniversary year are an annual convention Sept. 10-12 in San Diego, Calif., a spring meeting in Park City and a community service project yet to be defined that will help people with the mechanical systems in their homes.
Besides Bergman, the office has Michelle McGaughey as member services director trying to recruit new association members, and Sylvia Beesley, a secretary-receptionist. There are chapters in Salt Lake City, St. George and Ogden.
Executive officers of the association are Mark Kendall, Harding Mechanical Inc., president; Cal Coates, Coates Industrial Piping, past president; Tom Jensen, A-Tom Plumbing and Heating Inc., vice president; Hal Christiansen, Palmer-Christiansen Co., treasurer; and Bergman.
The board of directors consists of Rick Cowley, Mechanical Service & Systems Inc.; Ken Richards, Archer Mechanical; David Halverson, Halverson Mechanical Inc. Ralph Pond, Pond's Plumbing and Heating; and Kevin Winsness, Winsness Plumbing Co.
In addition to his involvement in labor negotiations with three locals of the United Association of Plumbers and Steamfitters, Bergman lobbies the Legislature over issues impacting mechanical contractors. By belonging to the Mechanical Contractors Association of America, Utah members are also involved in helping shape legislation at the national level.
Bergman believes Utah's robust economy will continue for at least three years, which is good news for his members. Meanwhile, there is work to be done on which plumbing code is the best for the state and its consumers.