BCMC 2017: Education Highlights


BCMC 2017: Education Highlights

There was so much information to absorb at this year’s show! And there are more resources online to help you catch up on anything you missed.

Facing the Future, Ready for Success

Ryan Estis, a former ad agency executive and expert on leadership, sales, and creating a company culture conducive to success, shared his insight into working with and selling to the millennial generation with over 400 members of the structural building components industry.

Whether it’s updating your communication style, changing your message to compete on things other than price, or re-evaluating your willingness to innovate, Estis argued that bringing a company up to speed on current trends was the only way to carry current success into the future. And when those tasks seem hard or overwhelming, Estis suggests striking a power pose. He cited research suggesting that a few minutes in a superhero stance of your choice can change your mindset and set you up for future success!

Economic Forecast

The economic outlook for 2018 and beyond is positive, according to Todd Tomalak of John Burns Real Estate Consulting. Almost 350 people – the largest attendance of this session in BCMC history – stopped in to listen to Tomalak’s predictions. Check out the slides from Tomalak’s session.  

Risk Management

SBCA Legal Counsel Kent Pagel once again delivered valuable content to BCMC attendees. Pete Bitnex of EBC Trusses Inc. said, “This session made me aware of how important it is to re-evaluate what we provide to our customers.” Bill Blades at Truss Fab commented, “I texted my agent during the session to check our coverage.”

Don’t let anyone else define your scope of work! Consider this sample best practice language for CMs.

Learning Labs

New for 2017, the learning lab space on the show floor offered BCMC attendees an additional chance to process the information they picked up in educational sessions. Moderated, small-group conversations on pre-selected topics allowed participants to take a break from booth browsing without leaving the vendor hall and engage with their peers on some of the pressing topics the industry faces today.

“The learning lab discussion was one of the best I have had at the show,” said BJ Louws, president of Louws Truss and one of the learning lab moderators. “There were only about six of us, but it led to some in-depth conversation about employee retention.” 

For more opportunity to network and discuss, join us at the next SBCA Open Quarterly Meeting!

Manufacturing Safety

Brad Gardner’s powerful safety presentation garnered high praise from attendees: “Every person at BCMC should have heard Brad’s story." Learn more about Brad's “compelling presentation on the importance of safety” here.

Updating the Office

A panel discussing employee communications – the place where IT support and designer team-building overlap – suggested that the days of email communication may be numbered. Email is still a good method of formal communication with clients, but one-line messages between employees are a waste of time. Skype, Slack, One Drive, Web X and Microsoft Groups are all tools worth looking into as your office operations modernize. 

Another panel discussed the challenges of leading a design department today. Building personal relationships with designers is critical, even and especially if you’re not sharing a physical office location. Leadership in the design department requires taking an interest in each designer, whether that means identifying the people in the shop who will succeed in the office, taking the time to understand the skill level of every person on the team, or engaging in one-on-one conversations to address mistakes.

Industry Roundtables

More than 125 component manufacturers and suppliers joined roundtable discussions of a wide range of topics, from current events and trends affecting the industry to how to make the most of their time on the show floor.

Notes from a Building Official

Labor shortages and material price increases are stressing today’s construction market, but new framing techniques, of which trusses are an important part, can help:

  • As building codes place a greater emphasis on energy efficiency and sustainability, trusses offer a huge advantage in that they can be designed with taller heel heights (i.e., energy heels) that allow a greater depth of insulation at the juncture between the roof/ceiling and the wall. 
  • Trusses can be designed for long spans, which can reduce or eliminate interior bearing locations, and gable end frames can be designed to span end wall openings (i.e., structural gable end frames), minimizing the need for headers and beams.
  • Roof trusses can be designed to support HVAC and MEP units within attic spaces, and the openness trusses can provide allows ample room for mechanical, electrical and plumbing runs.
  • Top chord bearing floor trusses eliminate the need for rim joists and blocking panels.

Component manufacturers don’t need to see building officials as adversaries. Instead, get involved in the markets you serve, get to know your local building officials, and become a resource for your local building department.

  • Offer plant tours to building officials.
  • Attend local building official chapter meetings (or host meetings at your plant).
  • Invite building officials to SBCA chapter meetings.
  • Offer truss and component training to building officials (cover topics like how to read a truss design drawing or truss placement diagram, industry standards on design responsibilities and scopes of work, or things to look for when inspecting truss and component installation).

Looking for help planning a training session or event for building officials? Email chapters@sbcindustry.com and SBCA staff will help you get started!

Recruiting Millennials

"This could be the most needed topic for our industry,” said Steven Powell of North Georgia Truss Systems of this session, which focused on how one company reimagined its staffing needs from the millennial perspective. Steve Stroder of California TrusFrame agreed: "Our industry needs to get this message. This is our future.”

Visit The Brainery – one company's effort to showcase careers in a little-considered industry.

Designer Development

Mistakes will happen, and it’s better to find them before a product is built and shipped. Checklists and mistake tracking can help ensure consistency among designers and reveal what aspects of design and production truly need attention and improvement. Design review should be a positive process, not a punitive one: everyone wants to send out a quality product, and the more designers can learn from every misstep, the stronger your design department will be.

Find more checklists and error tracking examples online in the session handouts.


Ready for more education in the coming year?

Keep an eye on SBCA’s webinar series to find out when you can revisit these topics and others in 2018.