The Most Valuable Week of the Year - BCMC!
The Most Valuable Week of the Year - BCMC!
The warmer weather marks the beginning of spring, but my sights are set on fall when the BCMC show will roll into the Big Easy, the city of New Orleans. For me, BCMC is an annual opportunity to learn more about our industry. It’s the place to learn about innovative ideas, new products, software, and equipment. You can meet just about any vendor who serves our industry and make valuable comparisons. This access to vendors and their in-depth perspectives, coupled with the opportunity to discuss ideas and common challenges with manufacturers from all over the country, makes the Building Community Making Connections event the most valuable week of the year for me.
Over the last 20 years that I have managed component operations, I have been fortunate to attend 14 BCMC shows. Each of these shows has helped me grow as a manager and a leader, bringing value to the companies where I’ve worked. My interest and involvement in the show has clearly evolved over the years. As a young manager attending my first show in 1993, I remember going to every educational session I could fit in my schedule. Even as a newbie back then, it was apparent to me that I could learn a great deal from these sessions and the seasoned managers/owners who were willing to teach me their best practices.
As my career in this industry developed, I found more and more valuable learning opportunities at the show outside of the BCMC sessions. Oh, I still go to the educational seminars and learn a ton, but I have also come to find a great deal of learning opportunities in networking with my fellow manufacturers. I have developed great friendships with these folks, which has allowed me to draw on their knowledge and share my own with them as we collaborate on issues throughout the year. A perfect example of this teamwork is the ongoing Southern Pine (SP) lumber design values issue. We have had countless conversations about this topic over the last several months and will likely have many more. We share our ideas and concerns as we look for the best grade solutions and implementation timing for adherence to the new design values that go into effect in June. We’ve also discussed the anticipated design value changes coming sometime after September once the full range of SPIB testing on SP is completed. This overall thought process goes well beyond SP to other species.
BCMC has evolved a great deal over the years as well. Based on member response, the show moved to largely CM-led educational sessions a few years ago. This proved to be a great format that we continue to use to this day with members teaching members about solutions for their businesses. Every BCMC, I walk away thinking I’ve seen the best educational sessions to date, but the tracks just keep getting better year after year. Our BCMC Committee and staff’s knack for streamlining and improving the show is a tribute to their diligence and hard work; if you get a chance, please thank them for their service.
The economic downturn we have all experienced over the last five years or so has led the BCMC Committee to search for ways to revitalize the show and increase attendance. A couple of years ago, we added the BCMC Build to give something back to the cities we visit. The first year was a huge success in Charlotte, NC, when we built our first Habitat for Humanity home. Last year in Indianapolis, IN. we partnered with Eli Lilly to build not one, but two homes for deserving families. BCMC Build has brought a great deal of pride and accomplishment to the members who have participated, and it helped reenergize the show just as we had hoped. This year, BCMC Build will do its part to help rebuild New Orleans. If you can, I encourage you to volunteer your time on the day of the build. You will enjoy the experience and likely make some new contacts and establish new friendships in the process.
Last year, a couple of BCMC Committee members, a past president and I were approached by a few long-standing supporters of the show. We were asked to consider scaling back BCMC in 2012. Their idea was to focus more on the educational and networking aspects of the show rather than bringing equipment. Shifting BCMC’s focus this way would help cut costs for vendors during these trying economic times. This concept was taken to staff and the SBCA Executive Committee. The idea was discussed in depth with great care to consider how this change would affect the show. The Executive Committee (after receiving significant input from our vendors, CMs and the BCMC Committee) decided that this year would be a perfect time for this temporary change in the show’s format, and with that, the winds of change were afoot.
Our BCMC staff sprang into action, working to find the means in Denver to accomplish our goal. Eventually, a decision was made to relocate the show to New Orleans as the BCMC Committee worked on ramping up the educational and networking aspect of the show. The process has come together and we are confident we have an outstanding show on tap for October. As Jason Blenker, BCMC Educational Co-Chair, says, education is the “meat on the bones of the conference” and we’ve really brought education front and center. Following the theme of Plan, Perform, Achieve, BCMC will include more workshops and business planning sessions to help component manufacturers enhance their business strategy and operations as the housing market slowly emerges from this long downturn. The layout of the show is even being updated to encourage more interaction between vendors and attendees.
Our 2012 BCMC will be a great show experience in an outstanding location. So join us in New Orleans on October 17-19. With top-notch educational sessions, BCMC Build and a new layout for the show, this could be the most valuable week of your year. I GUAR-ON-TEE. See you in New Orleans!