We Will Miss You, Mr. Truss


We Will Miss You, Mr. Truss

Remembering Bob Becht (1947-2015)

Bob Becht kicked off his presidency of SBCA (then WTCA) with a clear message: “We can make truss installation safer.”

In November 2007, in his first SBC Magazine column as president, Becht introduced himself by urging members to take a proactive role in educating employees and customers about installation safety. It was a pitch he’d already been making to association members for years as the board representative of the South Florida Truss & Component Manufacturers Association (SFTCMA) and then as the WTCA Membership Committee Chair. As he explained in his columns, his job on the membership committee was “to convince truss manufacturers that they need WTCA’s excellent product”—namely, the tools and services SBCA continues to offer that enhance the professional image and promote the value of component manufacturers to their customers.

For Becht, the primary source of value was a product built and installed safely. Rather than take his first editor’s message to lay out a vision of the association for the coming year, he shared with readers the story of the Safe Truss Partnership, the installer training program he developed at Chambers Truss and presented to customers, building inspectors, fire officials and homebuilding associations.

Throughout the year of his presidency, Becht balanced pep-talk messages, about getting through the tough economic times and the innovation that was surely just around the corner, with a constant stream of reminders about how the industry could take immediate steps to become better. In “Looking Forward to Better Days Ahead” (December 2007), he outlined the quality control program at Chambers Truss. “I take great pride,” he wrote, “in the fact that not only do we inspect every truss, [but also we adjust] our system to make it even more fool-proof.”

A column titled “You Cannot Turn Back Time” (March 2008) was not a lament for the housing marking downturn—it was a reminder that “we can’t forget about jobsite safety.” Becht not only felt strongly about the subject; he wanted to pass his passion along. “Teaching safe truss installation is great,” he wrote. “Try it—you’ll like it!” Even by the end of his term, safety was Becht’s priority, no matter how many other concerns component manufacturers had while weathering the long economic slump:

It’s the August issue, and that means a spotlight on material handling. I know what some of you are thinking—“we don’t have any material to handle!” I’ve felt the same way a few times this year. But the reality is, as long as we have human beings moving inventory and product around, safe and efficient material handling is very important.

While his approach to safety on the jobsite, especially when it came to bracing long-span trusses, was one of his biggest contributions to the industry, he may also be remembered for the alter ego he created in Mr. Truss.

The original Mr. Truss was the hapless and humorous protagonist of presentations encouraging members to participate in SBCA’s Risk Management program and attend the Building Component Manufacturers Conference (BCMC). The Mr. Truss character resonated with Becht’s peers and took on a life of his own, even after Becht’s presidency.

Becht’s good-natured and positive approach carried through in everything he did. Ultimately, Becht championed the very real benefits of industry collaboration. His enthusiasm can be carried on, but his personal contribution will always be missed. In his own words:

If you’ve been to a board meeting lately, you know I like to talk. Reading this, you know I like to talk about myself. But isn’t it all about me and what I can get out of my WTCA membership and what I can contribute to the structural building component industry? It’s also all about you; what you and your company can get out of your WTCA membership and what you can contribute to our industry.

Bob Becht, as the original Mr. Truss, comically promotes the importance of attending BCMC.
About the Author: Dale Erlandson joined SBCA staff last fall as the assistant editor of SBC Magazine. She has written for a variety of publications over the last decade and thrives on the challenge of learning something new and passing that knowledge along through the written word.