CM Perspective: SBCA Is Valuable at Every Level


CM Perspective: SBCA Is Valuable at Every Level

Rhonda Leppert

Rhonda Leppert has worked for Annandale Millwork and Allied Systems Corporation in Chantilly, Virginia since 2006. 

There are a lot of highly intelligent people in the Structural Building Components Association (SBCA). They are not just book smart; they have vast practical experience, and their willingness to share what they have learned is invaluable to anyone in our industry. 

I work for Annandale Millwork and Allied Systems Corporation as Executive Assistant to Gene Frogale, who is this year’s SBCA Treasurer and President-Elect. I have been attending SBCA Open Quarterly Meetings (OQMs) and BCMC since 2015. There seems to be a general opinion that SBCA caters only to executives and that there isn’t much value in mid-level employees or executive assistants attending and participating. While it is true that all executives benefit from being members and attending meetings, it is also true that all other levels of employees can learn, network, and develop their skills through SBCA.  If your goal is grow your company, or just grow yourself, SBCA OQMs and BCMC are a great place to do it. SBCA offers training in many areas – sales, safety, lean, design, workforce development, leadership – which are available at these in-person events. 

For example, last June I attended the OQM in Fort Worth, Texas, where Carlin Mueller of Trussway gave a great presentation on leading from the middle. Carlin brought up the fact that most people spend the majority of their career in the middle of an organization’s leadership team. That means that we all must learn how to lead up, down, and across because that is most likely where we will be spending most of our career. The number one myth of being a leader, according to John C. Maxwell’s book The 360 Leader, is “I can’t lead if I am not at the top.” But leadership is not a position, it is really the influence we have on the people around us. 

I really connected with Carlin’s presentation. It confirmed that I have great potential to be influential, that I can be a significant force in my company, even though I’m not the boss. As an executive assistant, I’m often the buffer to lessen the impact when a problem does arise, or absorb issues entirely so they never make it to Gene. 

Another principle for leading up is, “be willing to do what others won’t.” It is very important to have a serving attitude. For example, a customer recently called me directly because she needed to know how many linear feet of material shipped to the job. By this point, she’d been waiting for two weeks.  Having managed the flow of material to a few of her jobs, I knew that when something like this makes it to her, it’s been through quite a few people in their organization, which is not good. 

At this point, I could have made the mistake that many people make and said, “This isn’t my job.” But keeping in mind how I can be a leader from inside, I got in touch with our current project manager for the job, accounting, purchasing, and ticketing. We went over all the details, got everyone on the same plane and were able to get an answer to our customer. All of this might sound like common sense but the reality is that someone without this viewpoint may have handed this problem off to someone else. This could have resulted in our customer having to wait longer for an answer and potentially turned into a much bigger issue. 

It’s not difficult to lead from the middle; it’s a matter of your perspective. Instead of thinking, “I don’t want to do this, it isn’t my job, and I already have a lot to do,” we should be thinking, “We have a problem that needs to be solved and I can be part of that solution; I can be a go-to player for my company.” This is a winning attitude, an attitude that gets the job done. 

In short, this presentation was a good reminder. It gave me a more positive attitude overall and strengthened my work ethic further. Being at the OQM was a great experience. Not only was I able to have a great time networking, I also learned something of value to implement it in a real-life work situation. I encourage all of our members to invite more employees from their organizations to take part in SBCA’s educational opportunities. 

SBCA offers education in almost every area to empower your employees to be more proactive, more aware, and more knowledgeable. Experience it for yourself! Join us for our next OQM in Park City, Utah, August 4-6, and BCMC in Columbus, Ohio, September 29-October 2.