Transforming the Future of Framing Through Testing & Technical Evaluation Reports (TERs)


Transforming the Future of Framing Through Testing & Technical Evaluation Reports (TERs)

I believe engineering, building design, intellectual property development and engineering innovation can change the SBC world for the better.

TER logoLike so many of you who have weathered the past five-plus years, SBCA has gone through the kind of forced economic transition that no one ever wants to go through. To put this transformation into business terms, from 2006 to 2011, SBCA’s total revenue dropped by more than half. Over this same period of time, SBCA embarked on a new industry testing program and testing business through the creation of the SBC Research Institute (SBCRI).

Not only was it paramount that we keep SBCA, SBC Magazine and BCMC solvent, we also had to find a way to bring in enough revenue to cover the additional cost of carrying out a brand new and innovative approach to testing structural performance—accuracy through loads-in/loads-out technology with full roof, floor and wall systems tests. Since we had never faced this situation before, there was no proven roadmap to follow that guaranteed success.

This forced transformation had the unfortunate consequence of not allowing us to be as good as we would have liked on several fronts, the most notable being communication with our members. Further, we were unable to fully establish the SBCRI foundation needed to best conduct and provide the industry testing value we had anticipated during SBCRI’s initial planning stages. In fact, these efforts are just now getting underway at a level to meet industry testing goals and objectives. Any delay or shortcomings over the past few years are due to survival being job number one.

As with any period of hardship, challenge and survival, we were forced to re-think all of our businesses. This included the private contract testing business that SBCRI needed to keep cash flowing in a positive direction. This work led to the creation of benchmark testing and code compliance tools called Technical Evaluation Reports (TERs). Customers told us they wanted to get their new products to market as quickly as possible so they could generate the cash needed to pay for past testing and innovation into the future. As it turns out, professional engineering, ANSI/ACLASS-certified testing, investment in code-based assembly benchmark testing, and helping customers get their new products into the code compliance mainstream has been a key driver of SBCA survival.

All SBCA members have benefited, whether they were aware of it or not, from the creation of the TER concept. TERs have already bailed out several CMs in situations where they had a code compliance issue that was easily taken care of through the TER process. In the future, SBCRI and TERs will continue to show how valuable components and engineering are when directly compared to actual stick-frame benchmarks.

During a crisis, survival is the first step in the healing process. Now that we are out of intensive care, we will be getting our health back on track. All of us at SBCA believe one thing and one thing only—the future of the structural building components industry is before us. We have never truly exploited our engineering acumen and innovation. We have two choices: 1) embrace engineering, building design, intellectual property development and engineering innovation, or 2) become commodity producers.

If you are a smaller CM, I know choosing the first option is a challenge. However, when you think about it, your highly capitalized suppliers should be willing to help given that you provide a source of profit to them—your success is important to their success. When is the last time your lumber supplier played a role in your success?