Dear CSI: I Met Your Mark at CONSTRUCT 2015

For the past 5 years, I’ve taken a full immersive through CONSTRUCT, the Construction Specifications Institute’s (CSI) annual conference and trade show. Chock-full of industry leading education by real world instructors, coupled with a product show of cutting edge exhibitors that include manufacturers, contractors and product representatives, you are bound to find me tucked away somewhere during CONSTRUCT. In 2011 it was Chicago, Phoenix in 2012, Nashville in 2013, 2014 found me in Baltimore and just this past week, September 30th to October 3rd, I was in St. Louis for the 1st time ever.

Each year I return back to the grind renewed. With fresh energy from the education, camaraderie and revelry that is CONSTRUCT, coupled with a wee bit of vacation, I find my own #MondayMotivation. I probably won’t be the first to admit that I found my sails a bit deflated after Baltimore in 2014 when just a few weeks after our Monday return, we heard that CSI’s Executive Director and CEO of 8 years, Walt Marlowe was stepping down. Coupled with a member database update from Hell that impacted communications and departure of other key CSI staff, including my friend Joy Davis, who was CSI’s Communications/Community/Web Director, it made late 2014 and the first 8 months of 2015 difficult for my normaly full passion for CSI.

Things started looking up when after an extensive search, CSI named a new Executive Director and CEO, Mark Dorsey, in mid-July. Taking the reins on September 1st, CONSTRUCT was going to be the grand unveiling, if you will, of some fresh blood within CSI. Mark’s background in associations is extremely strong, including being a Fellow in the American Society of Association Executives, but it was his non-construction background that most interested me: which includes the American Snowsports Education Association, which is home to the Professional Ski Instructors of America and the American Association of Snowboard Instructors.

Initially, I had a fear that someone not fully vested in the construction industry couldn’t possibly understand the day-to-day activities of a typical CSI member, whether a specifier, architect, engineer, contractor, facility manager, product representative, manufacturer or owner. Then, the more I thought about it, the more I realized a NON-construction industry professional is EXACTLY what CSI needs. Someone not steeped in the 65+ year tradition that is CSI. Someone that can ask “Why is it done this way?” and “How come?” and tackle it from a new vantage point.

Then, I got to meet Mark Dorsey. Quickly. In passing on Tuesday night, before CONSTRUCT officially started. And then again on Wednesday night at the CSI Young Professional’s Mixer at Flamingo Bowl. I had the chance to hear him interact. To joke. To quip. To converse. It was truly impressive. Watching him talk to a young professional, then, a peer. Then, turn to co-workers of his and share his inside joke about working with them. And then I spoke to those that knew him more, some involved on the Institute board and some of those co-workers. I received more of an inside scoop as to Mark the person and professional.  Not only was it impressive, it was inspiring. It was uplifting. It was exactly what this six year veteran of CSI needed after a hard year within the organization. I recently continued saying Yes to CSI by agreeing to become CSI Vermont’s President-Elect, taking term July 1, 2016. I decided that if I was going to continue in my leadership role inside the Chapter and Organization that I had to be all in. The best way to be all in with CSI is to attend CONSTRUCT, and two weeks before St. Louis commenced, I was unsure if I was going to attend. Looking back, barely 1 day after I return home, St. Louis is exactly what I needed. A break from the normal day-to-day and a full on transfusion of the old blood of CSI with the new blood that I truly believe will be CSI with Mark Dorsey at the helm.

So, October 5th finds me refreshed and re-inspired in my role within the greatest construction organization in the industry. St. Louis rekindled my passion for an organization that I fell in love with years ago. I reconnected with friends and colleagues that I get to see in person only yearly, but converse with plenty thanks to social media. We all share our own love for this organization in our own way and I truly hope that Mark Dorsey becomes our new pied piper that I believe he can be.

Now, the biggest question I’m left with after CONSTRUCT: who does Mark look like more?

Dorsey (2)     OR     Dorsey (1)

Be sure to put CONSTRUCT 2016 on your schedule now.  September 8-11 in Austin, TX. Stay tuned to for details.

3 thoughts on “Dear CSI: I Met Your Mark at CONSTRUCT 2015

  1. Great Post buddy, and it was terrific to see you and hang with you for a couple days. Already looking forward to Austin next year!!

  2. I wanted to take a moment to thank you for this blog. Although a member of CSI since 1983, I went to St. Louis with much the same anxiety you describe after seeing staff friends depart and not knowing fully why. I also knew about some serious CSI shortcomings in some university relationships that took years to establish. However, I can’t agree more that we got the person we need. I found that in both large and small settings, he listened and asked probing questions if needed. I got to see and hear first hand the working relationship he has with our Officers, so I’m much more comfortable that we will see some prioritized action in the next 30-60 days that will get us moving in a positive direction. We all know there will be some bumps along the way and he will probably make some mistakes but that’s why he is the Exec Director and not “King” .

    Keep the CSI “passion” that I sense in your article, the people is why I’ve stayed active so long. I was asked at a Region Conference years ago why I keep coming. My was then & is now ” there are people here that can do some things better than I can and they are willing to share”

    So in the words of the un-official Sacramento Chapter motto, “get the work done BUT have fun doing it”. Look forward to meeting you in Austin if not before.

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