Top 5 CM Resolutions for 2015


Top 5 CM Resolutions for 2015

Early in the new year is always a great time to make resolutions on how to improve your life (and your business). Here’s a look at five powerful things component manufacturers (CM) can resolve to do in 2015.

Plum Buildilng plant tour1. Exercise... 

your rights as a member of a democratic society.

Your elected officials work for you; it’s time you met with them and gave them feedback on the job they’re doing. One of the best ways to do this is by hosting a tour of your production facility. Plant tours are easy to set up and host, and give you an uninterrupted hour or more to talk one-on-one with some of the most well-connected individuals in your community on your home turf.

Several CMs have had great success using this approach to build relationships with local, state and federal lawmakers. For example, Zeeland Truss & Components in Zeeland, MI, gave three separate tours recently. “These tours have been a great way to build valuable relationships through showing our community the work we are doing in their backyards,” said General Manager Dean DeHoog. “They’ve also been an effective way to showcase the structural building components industry to the community.”

Another example was a recent plant tour Plum Building Systems gave to an Iowa state lawmaker. “Most of our conversation was around employment issues in southern Iowa and the ½-inch gypsum Des Moines building code requirement for floor trusses and EWP,” said Rick Parrino, Plum’s General Manager.

“We discussed how the single membrane requirement exclusion for solid-sawn joists was putting our truss and I-joist sales at a significant competitive disadvantage for no good reason,” said Parrino. “[State] Senator Sinclair agreed to look into who supervises the adoption of the codes and vets the provisions in them, to see if we can fight this code provision through the legislature.”

Add to this the fact there are 67 new members of Congress who start their jobs this month in Washington, DC. It’s likely most (if not all) are unfamiliar with the structural building components (SBC) industry and the important role it plays in the light-frame construction industry. Commit to changing that in 2015—invite one of these lawmakers in and let them see and appreciate the important work you accomplish.

2. Improve a Relationship...

with your local building official’s office.

When the housing market tanked in 2007, these departments experienced a double whammy. The Great Recession resulted in lower tax dollars to fund their agencies, and the slowdown in home construction made it necessary for administrators to reduce staff. The result was that many building departments across the country were gutted, and have only recently ramped up hiring.

Shelter Systems Plant TourThat means there are numerous green recruits now inspecting buildings who all could benefit from the kind of foundational knowledge found in the Building Component Safety Information (BCSI) series of documents ( You can follow through on this resolution by reaching out to your local building department and volunteering to host an educational presentation for new hires. SBCA has worked with several CMs across the country to create presentations you can use to expose your building officials to important aspects of proper truss installation, code requirements, conventional framing requirements, code compliance and permanent bracing (

It’s important to note this is likely not a short-term issue. According to a recent survey conducted by the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) for the International Code Council (ICC), 30 percent of building safety professionals plan to retire in the next five years, and 80 percent will retire within the next 15 years. That significant amount of turnover means the individuals hired today will quickly become “senior” building inspectors before too long. Now is the time to build good relationships with them and expose them to the SBC industry.

3. Lose More Weight...

in your design and manufacturing processes.

The theme of BCMC this past year was Gearing Up for Growth, and several education sessions focused on best practice ways to go about doing just that. In one session, Donnie Powers, President of Panel Truss Texas, Inc., said, “If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail.” Powers was joined at BCMC by Aaron Roush, General Manager of Villaume Industries, Inc., to share their best practices for increasing production. In that presentation, they outlined ways CMs can effectively evaluate their manufacturing process and plan out how to make it leaner and more efficient all while producing more product.

Rich Ackley, Manager of Truss Ops North, LLC, and Dave Motter, P.E., Structural Engineer of Louws Truss, walked CMs through the concept of optimization and offered up their reasons why companies literally can’t afford not to engage in optimization techniques. They stressed that optimization means different things to different people, given the wide variety of costing methods and where value is assigned. Their advice: “Ultimately, in order to optimize, you need to be able to look at the entire process and identify where your bottleneck is,” said Motter. “Your pinch-point, whether it’s design, production or delivery, is the area where improvement will have the most dramatic impact.”

If you make this resolution, the bottom line is to find your pinch-points, evaluate your options and create a plan before you start cutting out the fat in your operations.

4. Improve Your Finances...

by further limiting your liability and capturing more value for the goods and services you provide.

This is easier said than done, but it starts by having a strong grasp of the scope of work guidance provided in Chapter 2 of the ANSI/TPI 1 standard. This consensus standard is referenced in the building code (essentially making it part of the law) and should serve as the foundation upon which every CM builds their business practices.

Through a clear grasp of what has been established in the codes as a CM’s scope of work, and if the contract of sale is otherwise silent, you have the ability to better navigate the demands of your customers and assign value to the services you are asked to provide beyond your scope of work. Not only will this help you avoid the types of liabilities that customers want CMs to assume, it will also give you a basis to charge for the unique value you provide to your customers that goes above and beyond the industry-defined scope of work for CMs.

One great place to start is by reviewing SBCA’s ORisk program ( This online training program was developed by SBCA Legal Counsel Kent Pagel to give CMs a strong grasp of the legal liability you may take on through various customer contract provisions and business practices. As an added benefit, ORisk also tackles the meaty issues of better understanding insurance coverages and best practices for filing claims and managing litigation.

Pagel, SBCA Executive Director Kirk Grundahl and Josh Backer of BMC joined forces at BCMC 2014 to give a presentation on limiting your liability and understanding the risks you take on through customer contracts and business practices. If you want to tackle this resolution, be sure to sign up when this issue is revisited in an online webinar in the upcoming months.

The cover sheet of SBCA’s Jobsite Packages can be a very effective front line of defense for CMs. Upon delivery, it clearly separates the responsibilities of the contractor and/or installer from those of the CM by referencing specific portions of ANSI/TPI 1, Chapter 2. While an individual CM may choose to assist the contractor with some of these areas of responsibility, it should be clear to both parties the CM is engaging in an activity outside of their scope of work and should receive reasonable compensation for doing so. In the near future, SBCA’s Jobsite Packages will be available online, and CMs will have the ability to provide customized electronic Jobsite Packages that contractors and framers can access on the jobsite from any mobile device. It’s just another way SBCA is striving to help CMs limit their risk and expand the use of the industry best practices contained in BCSI.

5. Set Aside Time for Yourself...

to get more actively involved in your trade association’s activities.

OQM in Madison, July 2014If you only want to make one resolution this year, this is the one to make. CMs who attend SBCA Open Quarterly Meetings (OQM), BCMC and local state chapter meetings would agree that the return on investment makes engagement a worthwhile endeavor. (See details.)

President John F. Kennedy is attributed with saying, “a rising tide lifts all boats.” This is certainly the approach of SBCA and its state chapters, to identify effective ways to support the growth of SBC market share and foster innovative framing techniques. While this work can benefit you whether or not you are actively engaged, your involvement gives you the ability to help determine the direction the structural components industry ultimately moves and receive advanced knowledge on the trends of tomorrow.

The next SBCA OQM is March 17-18 in Denver, CO. The CM Roundtable and CM and Supplier Roundtable discussions are the perfect place to hear about emerging trends and opportunities for further growth, as well as challenges in the marketplace that need collective solutions. If you’d rather start on the local level, contact SBCA staff and find out when the next chapter meeting in your market will be held. Lastly, make sure to put this year’s BCMC on your calendar; it will be held in Milwaukee, WI, October 20-23.

All of these resolutions touch upon the issues and activities we plan to focus on (in one way or another) in the pages of SBC Magazine during 2015. If you find yourself taking up one of these resolutions, we encourage you to let us know. In our June/July issue, we plan to highlight some of the ways in which CMs have benefited from following through on these resolutions in the new year.