I Know What Today Is

I Know What Today Is

A year certainly goes by faster than it used to. This past year? Even more so.

One year ago, a spur of the moment conversation with my friend, Cherise Lakeside, spawned my squirrel brain to kick into action. After discussing the continued ills of the construction industry for seemingly the umpteenth time, something clicked. We could continue talking about these issues, or, better yet, we could try and correct these issues. We knew we weren’t the only ones facing hurdles in the office or in the field. There had to be others. We had to do something about it.

Three hours later, I presented Cherise with www.LetsFixConstruction.com, complete with its first two blog posts, ‘The Fifth C of CSI: Collaboration’  and ‘Product Manufacturers: Are You Doing it Right? Construction Education for Product Reps’. In addition to the website I created a Facebook pagea Twitter and Instagram account and an official hashtag: #FixConstruction.

The concept was simple, share your gripe, but offer positive, left of center solutions to the problem at hand. We both recognized some of the shortcomings of the AEC industry – the aversion to technology adoption, the skilled labor shortage and communication issues among plenty of others. It was finally time to admit the problems, engage individuals to discuss them and publish proactive solutions for all to benefit from.

Response was immediately enthusiastic.

But we knew the voices couldn’t be just ours. It needed to be anyone and everyone in AEC who saw an issue and had a solution. Each person we asked were happy to contribute posts and offer their view. In this past year we’ve gained twenty-some contributors and have stayed true to our initial mission: to better the industry by sharing our knowledge, openly communicating & encouraging collaboration, all while being an unsponsored and unbiased platform.

We’ve received two best of construction blog nominations and in the process Mark Buckshon of ConstructionMarketingIdeas.com said ‘This blog is one of the most solid interdisciplinary resources for architects, engineers, contractors and specifiers I’ve seen in the business.’ Not too bad for a side project that launched over Twitter direct messaging.

We knew we struck a chord, but how could we go about spreading the word wider?

What if we leapt off of the screen and talked about the issues in person? The LIVE concept was born and Cherise took it under her wing to deliver the first ever Let’s Fix Construction workshop to her office at Ankrom Moisan Architects in Portland and the response was collectively favorable and appreciative. Add another workshop at a CSI Bi-Region Conference to reaffirm our belief that the live setting could work, and we were off. We added my voice to the mix and three more workshops were booked – two in Portland, OR and one in Eugene. With some on the fly planning and the capability to quickly change things up from one workshop to the next, the feedback remained upbeat.

With a year under our belt, it’s time to broadcast this message even further. We need to talk to more people, reign in more contributors, get in front of our bodies. With the addition of the Let’s Fix Construction podcast, which will be debuting soon, I know we’re on our way to reaching that goal.

Speaking of CONSTRUCT, we know the biggest challenge lays ahead of us in Providence on September 13th, with the Let’s Fix Construction interactive luncheon, but I know we’re up for it.

I also know I’m up for year two. A HUGE thank you goes out to our readers, supporters, contributors and especially Cherise for making August 15, 2016 to August 15, 2017 a year I won’t soon forget.

On this first anniversary, we are very excited to announce that CONSTRUCT has become an official partner of Let’s Fix Construction. Sylvia Wofford, Marketing Manager for CONSTRUCT, says “We feel this partnership will help spread the message of collaboration and resolution to problems that are faced in the construction industry. CONSTRUCT wants to help proliferate solution messages through this partnership.” You can read more about our partnership here: https://explore.constructshow.com/UtilityNav/News/Entries/53420

#FixConstruction at #CONSTRUCT 2017

#FixConstruction at #CONSTRUCT 2017

2017 will be my seventh straight #CONSTRUCT conference. For those unaware, CONSTRUCT is the Construction Specifications Institute’s annual meeting and affiliated trade show. I attended my first CONSTRUCT with the full education package in 2011 in Chicago, I returned to Phoenix in 2012, Nashville in 2013, Baltimore in 2014, St. Louis in 2015 and Austin in 2016.

For this year’s conference, taking place September 13-15, 2017, at the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence, Rhode Island, I had the privilege of serving on the conference Advisory Council with a slew of other industry professionals. We assisted in culling down the 200+ submitted proposals down to over 40 available presentations, where participants at CONSTRUCT can earn over a year’s worth of CEUs, including 18.5 AIA LUs/HSW.

What’s new at CONSTRUCT for 2017? Well, for me, I’ll be presenting. TWICE!

I am honored to deliver one of the Featured Sessions on Day 1, Wednesday, September 13th, with my partner-in-crime-and-education, Cherise Lakeside. Titled ‘Let’s Fix Construction: An Interactive Luncheon’, it is based on our website and blog Let’s Fix Construction and we do hope that over a lunch we can demonstrate how you can improve communication, collaboration, unique ideas and the sharing of perspectives from different disciplines. You can read more on this session here.

On the final morning of CONSTRUCT, you can find Cherise and I back together to co-present ‘She’s a Specifier, He’s a Product Rep: Different Roles, Same Goals’. We hope that by representing both sides of an architectural sales call, we will be able to educate both parties in a dynamic manner.

Registration is now open for CONSTRUCT, which is the only dedicated national event specifically designed to provide the commercial building team with real-world, practical products and education solutions. The Exhibit Hall will be packed with 200+ exhibitors spanning over 28,000+ net square feet. covering everything from air barriers to fire protection systems, coatings to architectural hardware, and much more, Exhibiting companies will showcase products, services and technologies for commercial building industry professionals who design, build, renovate or operate in the built environment.

You can read the official press release here and if you are interesting in registering for this must attend event, you can visit at https://www.constructshow.com/en/register.html.

Interested in a FREE Exhibit Hall Pass? Click on the graphic below to register for one.

The Summer of 1992

The Summer of 1992
Yesterday was hard for me (and so many friends as evidence by Facebook) because Chris Cornell was the first artist that had been with me for 25 years.
 
I remember seeing the video for ‘Hunger Strike’ for the first time. I was 16, watching TV in my bedroom with Josh Keller and Sean Daley. Our cable had been spliced so many times that my reception was snowy. But I do remember one of us saying ‘Isn’t that the singer from Soundgarden?’ and then ‘Wow, that’s Eddie!’.
 
The Seattle sound hit Vermont that Summer of 92. Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Nirvana and we were all hooked. Badmotorfinger was the sleeper of the four bands.
 
I also remember buying the ‘Singles’ soundtrack on opening day with Sean on June 30, 1992. By then, both he and I were craving something new from Pearl Jam, and ‘Breathe’ and ‘State of Love and Trust’ didn’t disappoint. But somehow, Chris’s ‘Seasons’ always stood out. At one point ‘Full Moon Blanket’ was even thrown around for a band name for Josh, Sean and Phil Joseph‘s latest project.
 
August 4th 1992 found Sean and I going to see Lollapalooza to see undoubtedly the biggest band in the world, at least in our eyes, Pearl Jam, play Saratoga Performing Arts Center. Soundgarden performed that day, along with the likes of Ice Cube and Red Hot Chili Peppers. I remember the pouring rain during Pearl Jam’s set and I remember triple cheeseburgers in Dream Team cups after the show.
 
I remember tweeting at Chris shortly after joining Twitter in August of 2009. I didn’t know what I was doing, and he didn’t respond, but his music had just spoken to me, again, and I let him know.
 
Chris’ music and that incredible voice was always there for the last 25 years. I got to see him twice more. November 29, 2011, a solo acoustic performance at the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts with Tater and friends. It was quiet, haunting, emotional. Everything I wanted.
 
And then I got to see Chris one last time. for the last time unfortunately, in a complete circle, when I saw Temple Of The Dog at the Tower Theater in PA on November 5, 2016. It was everything I wanted it to be and then some.
 
I had hopes of seeing him again. Hearing whatever it was he decided to create next. It didn’t matter what he touched. His wail was unmistakable and his way with words was as well.
 
I woke up yesterday at 6:30 to the next from my buddy Kurt, who I attended Temple of the Dog with and he said “I am really glad that we went to Temple of the Dog together…since I just heard Chris Cornell died” and I would say was “Waaaaaaa?” and my day was a daze from there.
 
Music is an escape and we all cope in different ways. Many, many of us, put on Chris’ music yesterday and shed a tear. I was one of them. “Say Hello 2 Heaven”, Chris.

What is CSI in 2016 to You?

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On February 12, 2009, I joined the ranks at CSI and my then home Chapter of Allentown, Pennsylvania (now named Greater Lehigh Valley).  I had been invited to attend my first meeting in Pittsburgh the previous month by a spec writer for a prominent school design firm after I had been introduced to CSI by a design library coordinator at a firm in Pittsburgh. Having been involved in construction off and on since 1998, I hadn’t been directly introduced to CSI until this gentlemen informed me that in his opinion the acronym CSI on my business card would pull more weight with him had he seen it on my card.  A bit of research and a Chapter meeting later, I joined and got involved.

I have recollected many times over the years since I joined CSI that had I not sat down and struck up a conversation with the gent next to me in Allentown, who happened to be the Chapter President, I probably wouldn’t be where I am today in CSI.  For me at the time, having met a Board Member was a very important thing and the fact that he chose to talk to me meant that as a member, I was important in his eyes.  A very intelligent man, and one of my CDT instructors, Mitch Miller, has said that ‘membership retention starts on day one’ and I couldn’t agree more.  However, in order to retain a member, a member has to be involved with the Chapter and attend a meeting.  In order to attend a meeting, a meeting of value to the member needs to be booked and promoted.

That brings me all back around to the ‘moral’ of this post.  What makes an in person meeting of value to you, whether CSI or otherwise?  Are you in it for the credits? The networking? The camaraderie? The education?  For many years, education was a focal point of a CSI meeting.  CSI meetings have traditionally offered top notch education, but no longer can education be relied on as the core value.  In person presentations that offer HSW credits are a dime a dozen if you work in a design firm of note.  Credits can also be easily attained via the web, so there is no shortage of delivered credits.

So, let me ask you, what gets YOU to a CSI Chapter meeting?  Or is a Chapter meeting even relevant as part of your membership? As we evaluate our Vermont Chapter programming for the remainder of 2016 and all of 2017, I would like to hear from you, our membership.

Being a relatively “new” Vermont Chapter member who has yet to meet many of you, I am curious. Are CSI programs and meetings relevant to you and your needs? Whether here in Vermont or otherwise, I would like to hear from you! Please reach out by email at elussier@precisionathleticsurfaces.com or feel free to call me at 802-922-8407 and tell me what 2016 means to you.

Meanwhile, here in Vermont we plan on meeting as a Board, which as a CSI member you are ALWAYS welcome to attend, on the second Tuesday of every month in the downtown Burlington area.  Please contact me at the info above and I will let you know when our next meeting is.

With our new leadership at the Institute level, I’m excited for where CSI is going and I’m glad to have you on board.  Please let me know how we can serve you on a Chapter level.

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  www.CONSTRUCTshow.com for details.

Experiencing #CONSTRUCT

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Four years after attending my first CONSTRUCT, the Construction Specifications Institute’s (CSI) annual meeting, education sessions and affiliated tradeshow and it is hard to put my finger on any one thing that makes it click.  It is EVERYTHING that makes it click.

After spending 2011 in Chicago, 2012 in Phoenix, 2013 in Nashville and this past September 9-12, 2014 in Baltimore, it is hard to describe in words just what makes CONSTRUCT so unique and special.  The education, the tradeshow, the host city and the people all make it a can’t miss event.

First: the education.  Where else can you learn from industry leaders that are also your peers?  A juried selection committee whittles down hundreds of applicants to the 60 or so classes that make up the CONSTRUCT education segment.  This year featured 90 minute sessions, as well as 60 minute sessions and the brand new ‘boxed lunch sessions’, which were all well attended and led by instructors that are specialists in their field.  Professionals who have been there, done that and know how to back up their talk.  You can challenge them, you can learn from them, you can question them, but in the end, you can walk away knowing that the knowledge and information you are being delivered is top of the line and meet the four C’s of CSI: clear, concise, correct and complete. You can read more on the education at CONSTRUCT in one of my previous blog posts here,

Second: the tradeshow.  The CONSTRUCT tradeshow is the only exhibit hall in the industry that meets the needs of all of the project players involved in CSI.   Whether a specifier, architect, engineer, contractor, facility manager, product representative, manufacturer or owner you will be able to gather leading construction industry knowledge on building products and services from the hundreds of exhibitors on hand.   The exhibit hall also featured show floor discussions and a learning pavilion which was a designated area on the show floor that offered free education to participants.

Third: the host city.  I have slowly been using CONSTRUCT as my opportunity to see parts of the Nation I have never visited.  Before I attended in 2011, 2012 or 2013 I had never seen Chicago, Phoenix or Nashville respectively.  All three ended up being an amazing experience in cities that I can’t wait to visit again.  While before CONSTRUCT in 2014 I had previously visited Baltimore, it had only been for brief visits to see the Orioles host the Yankees at Camden Yards.  This year allowed me to spend more than 5 hours in a great city that I truly under-appreciated.  Arriving on Sunday afternoon and departing on Saturday morning allowed almost a full week to not only enjoy a great conference but also a fantastic city.  I finally had the chance to make it to the Inner Harbor and enjoy the sights around it, and also be ON it.  The Baltimore Chapter of CSI hosted a dinner cruise on the Inner Harbor on Wednesday and with the 200th anniversary of the writing of the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ being celebrated complete with the ‘Tall Ships’ in town, being on the water was truly the place to be.

While the food was great all week long in Baltimore, it’s not all just seafood.  In addition to crab cakes and fish tacos, I had the opportunity to have an amazing burger at Alewife, great food and drink at Pratt Street Ale House, Italian food that I still rave about at Amiccis and French Fries that I dream about at Joe Squared in Power Plant Live.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly to me, are the people.  Since joining CSI in February 2009, I have had the incredible opportunity to meet dozens of amazing people that I am fortunate enough to call friends and associates.  Whether having met them locally at my Chapter, at a previous CONSTRUCT, on social media or working for the Institute directly, the fine folk that I’m able to reconnect with during CONSTRUCT are worth my price of attendance alone.   For if you read my last blog post, you understand that the people involved in CSI are what make the Institute click.  You are not just a membership number, a random attendee or a stranger when attending CONSTRUCT.  Within CSI, you are among industry peers and never among strangers.

One of the highlights of CONSTRUCT for me was on Wednesday as I was fortunate enough to host and moderate a bloggers panel that consisted of industry friends who share their knowledge publically for all to read.  I sat with Sheldon Wolfe who blogs at Constructive Thoughts, Marvin Kemp, who blogs at The Accidental Leader, David Stutzman, who blogs at SpecWords, Lori Greene who blogs at I Dig Hardware and our blogger newbie Cherise Schacter, who decided to ‘Jump’ in the game and gets ‘Into the Groove’ on her blog The Voices in My Head.  It was an absolute privilege to sit with friends who I look up to for their writing abilities and to get to pick their brains for the attendees and myself to hear.  Ginny Powell of Hager Companies posted a great review (on the Hager blog of course!) of the panel here.

The other highlight for me took part during the CSI annual meeting and member forum when I was recognized with a national award for ‘my continued devotion to CSI and the Allentown Chapter through my blogs, excitement-driven tweets, and extraordinary communication effort.’  Here I am receiving my award alongside fellow Allentown member and good friend, Jon Lattin of Corrosion Technology Systems who was also recognized for his Allentown Chapter work with Marvin Kemp (left – Awards Committee Chair) and Casey Robb (Right – Fiscal Year 2014 CSI President)

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One of the last matters of business at the CSI annual meeting and member forum is the passing of the panic whistle.  This is when the current host city ‘passes the torch’ onto the host Chapter of the next conference.   CONSTRUCT 2015 will be hosted in St. Louis from September 30 to October 3 next year and I was certainly not the only person to utter the phrase ‘Meet me in St. Louie’!  CONSTRUCT is not just one thing, it is EVERY thing.  The days are already marked on my calendar and if you want to attend the leading AEC industry conference and meet some memorable people along the way, I suggest you add the dates to yours.

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#CONSTRUCT: Thousands of People Strong


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National events, tradeshows and organizations are filled with attendees, members, associates and numbers.  Names and faces can be lost in the crowd.  People come, people go.  They attend one year, perhaps skip the next.

How many functions are a must attend for you?  Perhaps your annual family reunion? Greenbuild? That friend’s party that comes along every Summer? Inbound?  I can name just one for me: CONSTRUCT. The Construction Specifications Institute’s annual meeting and tradeshow, which is being held this year in Baltimore from September 9-12. www.CONSTRUCTshow.com

Since attending my first CONSTRUCT in Philadelphia in 2010, I’ve blocked out one week per September to ensure that I will make it to my must attend event.  While the show itself moves from city to city each year (2011 in Chicago, 2012 was in Phoenix, 2013 was Music City – Nashville and 2015 is slated for St. Louis),  the people themselves remain constant.

Coming from all walks of life in the construction industry – including specifiers, architects, engineers, contractors, facility managers, product representatives, manufacturers, owners and others – most attendees of CONSTRUCT are attracted for the education (which can be acquired both in a classroom setting and the tradeshow floor), while chances are the rest are there for the people.   An AEC family reunion of sorts, friends from across the United States and our ‘neighbours’ to the North, come together for the camaraderie that is CSI.  No matter the walk of life, all members of CSI hold an equal seat at the table.  This is evident from watching people interact at CONSTRUCT.  Architects sharing hugs with product representatives, handshakes exchanged by engineers and specifiers, cordial smiles between manufacturers and owners.  Your background and profession really doesn’t matter within CSI and at CONSTRUCT.

I’ve been fortunate enough to witness this firsthand now 4 years over.  While the admission for CONSTRUCT is worth every cent for the education and events alone, the real value is in the relationships and the people you meet and connect with.  Whether you share a cab, a class, a lunch table or a dinner, it is easy to meet a stranger that has the immediate potential of becoming a lifelong friend.  CSI has done wonders for my career over the last five and a half years, while introducing me to some of the friendliest, personable and most intelligent friends I know.

What is the value of a great friendship to you? If you think the terms invaluable and priceless like I do, then the annual $240 National membership fee of the Construction Specifications Institute is quite a bargain.  You can join CSI here and the more you get involved at either the local Chapter, Region or National level, the further CSI can take you and the more incredible people you can meet.

What consistently makes CONSTRUCT my must attend event of the year is the people I’ll see.  While we may only see each other once every year, we stay in touch however we can.   Through phone calls, emails and social media we ‘talk’.  Sharing information, ideas, learned lessons and more.   These are people I know, trust and will go to bat for any day of the week.  They are my inner circle and in one months time, I get to physically see them again.

You still have plenty of time to plan and attend CONSTRUCT.  Trust me that it will be a week in the Inner Harbor of Baltimore that you won’t soon forget, due to the people that you will meet alone.  Visit CONSTRUCT online to find out more and if you are active on Twitter, be sure to follow along using #CONSTRUCT now, during the week of September 9th and beyond.

 

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