Editor's Message: As Iron Sharpens Iron

Editor's Message

Editor's Message: As Iron Sharpens Iron

Accelerate your professional growth by finding a peer

Over the past few months I’ve had the opportunity to work with two exceptional individuals, Tony Acampa with Shelter Systems Limited in Maryland and Zach Shepherd with Engineered Building Design (EBD) in Iowa. I want share why they are exceptional, but first I want to talk about how they met because I think their unlikely friendship is something that can, and should, be replicated throughout our industry.

At BCMC 2019, Zach gave a presentation on training designers and leading by example. Tony was sitting in the audience because he was looking for ideas he might be able to take back and implement at Shelter Systems. After the session, Tony approached Zach and they struck up a conversation. It quickly became clear they shared similar views on a wide range of topics. That one conversation led to several others, and over time they developed a close friendship. Tony says, “I found Zach’s passion for his people and their success inspiring, and relatable to things I was beginning to try in our workplace.”

Located over 900 miles apart, Tony and Zach have freely shared how their companies tackled a myriad of challenges. Whether its related to recruitment and training or leadership development and process improvement, time and again they’ve been able to improve upon their initial ideas by talking through them together. It’s not difficult to quantify the value EBD and Shelter Systems have gained from their collaborative approach to problem solving, it’s been invaluable. “We swap stories and ideas, we talk about books we’re reading, and recommend good podcasts,” says Tony.

The collective value of their relationship isn’t limited to their companies either, it has also benefitted the greater industry. Zach and Tony recently hosted a two-part SBCA Webinar series sharing the lessons they have learned together in creating cross-functional teams between their design and production departments and fostering a company culture that encourages these two aspects of a truss plant to work together in greater harmony. 

It probably no coincidence that both Zach and Tony now find themselves in a position to take on greater responsibility within their respective organizations. As they have embarked on that journey, they have traded off encouraging and challenging each other—living proof that iron sharpens iron. “I’d like to think it is a relationship, a true friendship, that will continue to grow for years to come,” says Zach.

In many ways, this is the power and purpose of SBCA. This association provides many resources and services to its members, but at its core it is about bringing together component manufacturers (CMs) from across the country and giving them an opportunity to build close relationships like Zach and Tony have done. Like these two, BCMC is the most likely place for these interactions as a large segment of the industry shows up during the annual three-day event. Between the show floor, the education sessions, the pre-conference workshops, the roundtable discussions, the fun events and the supplier dinners, there are so many opportunities to strike up a conversation and start a relationship that might change the trajectory of your business or career.

For some, BCMC may seem like an overwhelming venue to make that kind of personal connection. Fortunately, SBCA also hosts Open Quarterly Meetings (OQMs) throughout the year. These events are open to everyone, but smaller in size and a great place to meet non-competing CMs. In his President’s Message (p. 9), Mike Ruede gives you a good sense for what the first OQM in January was like. 

Over the course of 2021, you will hear more from Zach and Tony. They will be recording some podcasts together in the coming months and hosting an education session in October at BCMC 2021 in Omaha, Nebraska. If you missed their earlier webinars, you can access archived recordings at sbcindustry.com/webinars.
Sean D. Shields, Managing Editor