We Are All in This Together!


We Are All in This Together!

How one CM introduces building officials to the entire
scope of work that goes into truss manufacturing. 

“It’s a great way to stay plugged in to the industry and see that people, who aren’t component manufacturers, are learning,” said Keith Myers. For the past few years, Myers has been making presentations to building officials through the Rutgers University Continuing Studies program. Once again this spring, his presentation included a plant tour for a group of 20-30 building officials.

Myers is truss and panel general manager at Woodhaven Lumber and Millwork in Lakewood, New Jersey, and also president of the board of the Mid Atlantic chapter of SBCA. Myers’ involvement with the Rutgers program began when he expressed an interest in doing a presentation. “All I asked for was time to prepare, and that’s exactly what did not happen. I was thrown into the presentation, literally the night before, and have been doing it since.”

Comments on the evaluations from the May 20 event showed that Myers has found the way to successfully relay useful information: “Liked the design details and lots of practical field information.” “Handouts very useful, daily on the job, as an inspector.” “Consider the tour one of the best features of this event.” “Open to seeing what else the chapter has to offer.” According to one building official, Myers talks to them, not at them.

“The presentations give us the opportunity to break down the specifics of our work, show them best practices and what to expect at a jobsite,” said Myers. He even takes the time during class to pass around connector plates to help the inspectors get a sense of the parts that make up a truss. He explains that the engineering and technology aspects of truss manufacturing, which he sometimes refers to as the sexy software part of the truss business, is one small part of the work. The key is that through these presentations, building officials are introduced to the entire scope of work that goes into truss manufacturing and all the design and production tasks that need to be done by real human beings.

The full-day event is held at Woodhaven’s training center and includes three classroom sessions, lunch, a 90-minute tour of the entire facility, and a closing session for questions and evaluation. After the evaluations are returned to their facilitator, the building officials receive continuing education credits for the experience.

Myers makes a point of inviting the entire Mid Atlantic chapter to each of the presentations. In the past, both component manufacturer and associate members have attended.

Myers stressed the importance of providing a hands-on experience where he involves the building officials and component manufacturers in the entire process of building and inspecting a truss. This adds real-world perspective to the classroom information. He said there were times when he posed questions and asked for everyone’s input—giving him a chance to learn from the inspectors as well as teaching them.

This experience allows everyone to focus on teamwork and to move away from an “adversarial, almost anti-truss type of relationship” that sometimes exists with the building officials, Myers said. “At the end of the day, we all aim to put up a structure, and we should take pride in that. We are all in this together.”

About the Author: Lena Giakoumopoulos joined SBCA’s membership development team in 2014 and also focuses on workforce development and other management committee initiatives. She holds a masters degree in global marketing and has written for newsletters, manuals, brochures and websites.