Why NFC Growth Is a Boon for Component Manufacturers


Why NFC Growth Is a Boon for Component Manufacturers

Promoting NFC shouldn’t fall on framers alone; component manufacturers can benefit from recruiting in their market.

With so many players in the building and building support sectors of construction, each has a unique connection with general contractors (GCs) and framers. Component manufacturers (CMs) have a growing relationship with framers, especially since more structures are being designed using wood components, and it appears this trend will increase given the shortage of framing labor that will likely persist for the foreseeable future. For this reason, CMs have an opportunity to promote membership and active involvement in NFC to framers who buy their products.

Last year, Tom English wrote about using framers as a passive sales force for CMs (see Sept/Oct 2014 issue). In short, his argument was that, if framers installing a CM’s product appreciated its quality and ease of installation, they’re more likely to mention that to the GC that they are working with. If the GC continues to hear similar praises, they’re likely to suggest/request a particular manufacturer’s products on the jobs they oversee.

This approach highlights the power of communication and involvement between sectors in the building industry. Joe Hikel, Vice President and CEO of Shelter Systems Limited, says not only is it vital for framers to join NFC, it is important for CMs like him to become members also. “Framers are the end users of our products... it’s important to understand what a framer needs and make the framer happy,” he said. “Why not participate with them and their trade association?”

Reaching a point where framers verbally endorse a product, share that with other framers and GCs in the field, and want to use it can be a great advantage to a CM. NFC membership can help make that happen, and there are several reasons why.

One, framing crews that are active in NFC will become more organized and will operate under similar approaches to safety and jobsite processes. NFC was created to help framers, no matter the size of the company, grow and evolve as successful proprietary businesses by following a proven system of safety and framing best practices. As framing crews become more familiar with the NFC approach to jobsite layout, planning and safety, training, and even scope of work best practices, there will naturally be a more standardized approach between crews. Designs and details can even become more simplified, and the design to installation process more clearly defined and easy to implement. Downstream, the hope is this will deepen the CM’s relationship with framers as they work together on best practices. This will then lead to easier acceptance, use and installation of a CM’s products.

Two, the experience and use of component products has been a large influence on NFC’s work. SBCA already developed and currently promotes best installation practices, which are intended to help framers be safe and efficient, while also improving consistency and helping to ensure proper usage of components in the field. Having NFC engaged in the installation best practice development process, with framers providing installation guidance to CMs and other framers, will further bolster these efforts and encourage the evolution of recommendations that provide more efficient and safe solutions.

For example, there are three main areas where NFC has focused its efforts on creating best practices:

1. Safety: This isn’t only a concern for NFC but everyone involved in the building industry. In the case of component-built structures, the ability to use components safely increases the validity of using them in the first place. GCs and framers want to maintain safe jobsites, and NFC promotes safe usage of components through its FrameSAFE Safety Manual, Site-Specific Fall Protection Plan, and Toolbox Talks.

2. Consistency & efficiency: These two words formulate the cornerstones of why using components is smarter than stick framing. Just last month in our article, “Better, Faster, Smarter: Componentized Rough Openings Are Making a Difference for Framers,” we discussed how components are changing the way builders construct rough openings and the impact using them has on material efficiency, accuracy, production time and engineered designs.

3. Proper usage: Correct handling of components will lead to less broken members and/or damage to wall panels/trusses that either have to be repaired or replaced. This will reduce call-back costs significantly. Proper implementation also ties back into safety and consistency on the jobsite.

Our industry is more of a tight-knit group than one imagines, and every business plays a role in helping other businesses flourish. This is even more evident when one gets involved with NFC and SBCA because the relationship between framers and CMs is already strong and essential in providing the right materials at the right time to efficiently complete the job.

For CMs, NFC is a valuable platform for spreading the word about new framing concepts and innovative framing products. Since its conception, one of NFC’s goals was to increase the rate of innovation in the field with outreach and education. It’s a simple goal of adding value to framers’ work for years to come, and Hikel says, it’s a very important opportunity.

“If you’re not adding value to the framer’s job, if you’re not working to make their jobs easier, then you’re not doing your job,” says Hikel.

For more information about the National Framers Council, visit framerscouncil.org.