Developing Staff: Production to Technician to Project Manager


Developing Staff: Production to Technician to Project Manager

BCMC Session: Design by Example: Training a Successful Design Culture
Zach Shepherd, Engineered Building Design, L.C. 


A 22-year industry veteran explains best practices for developing truss designers

In order to train successful designers, Zach Shepherd, operations manager at Engineered Building Design (EBD) in Washington, Iowa, believes component manufacturers (CMs) should never stop training both themselves and their employees. 

Plant employee using a staple gun on truss

“We should always be learning and so should those we lead,” says Zach.

In his 22 years in the industry, Zach has spent time in every facet of a manufacturing plant. He leverages his industry knowledge and training culture to develop truss technicians into project managers who can own a project from start to finish with minimal manager input. To do this, his approach to training designers hinges on the individuals themselves, rather than going through a predetermined checklist. 

“Each new technician sets the course for their training, I don’t have one particular method for training new technicians,” he says. “My screening process is based on finding highly motivated and dependable individuals. By default, they should then be pushing themselves to learn.”

People working on a large roof truss in the plant

Most designers at EBD spend at least six months working in several areas of the production facility. 

“When I start looking for the next truss technician from the shop, I list out the qualities I want to see from them and I tell them that the more they know, the more valuable they are to EBD, thus the more valuable they are to me as a potential truss technician,” Zach says. “Ideally, they have a mix of all departments. The more areas they partake in, the stronger they can be as truss technicians.”

He also takes advantage of SBCA resources such as webinars and Truss Technician Training (TTT), supplier training opportunities, and even sends employees to a local community college for courses in math and computer science. 

“Take advantage of every opportunity you have available to help your employees develop and grow,” says Zach. “Every investment makes them a better designer.ˮ