Contributed by Russell Harrison
As product reps, most of us have it pretty easy in our day-to-day lives. Sure, there are long days walking, driving, or even flying from meeting to meeting. And don’t forget the many nights in hotels!!! But overall, our jobs aren’t too difficult.
Well, except for the one thing that we don’t have control over. When the drawings and specifications don’t agree on a project. This is always a difficult spot to be in for a product rep. I won’t even start to cover what happens at the subcontractor level, as that’s a blog post unto itself.
Has anyone ever wondered what happens when a manufacturer’s rep is asked to provide a bid in that instance? Many things happen, and not necessarily all of them are good! To give you a background on what products I cover as a rep, I handle aluminum composite materials (ACM), plate, and honeycomb panels in the Pacific Northwest. Our products are specified on a regular basis. A good number of projects we end up working on are handled via substitution request.
Typically, when a subcontractor gets an invite where one of our products are being used (material, not necessarily manufacturer specified), we’re forwarded some, or all of the information we need to get started on providing a material bid. As reps, we get to go through the details and specs to make sure they work together and there aren’t any issues. In the last month, I’ve had eight or ten projects come across my desk where the specs and details did not agree, even to the point of ACM rainscreen panels being specified, but the drawings calling out honeycomb barrier panels. That, kids, is an apples and oranges conversation and very difficult to negotiate at the architectural level without ruffling feathers!
The first thing that I do when providing a subcontractor request is to annotate the project spec and note where our proposed substitution is an equal or comparable, but I always include notes where there was a “miss” on the part of the architecture team to either make sure the spec was clean or where the details don’t match the specs. Unfortunately, because my notes are on the spec, it always seems that I’m picking on the specifier, but I’m not. Regrettably, it’s a feature of the substitution request process, since they are typically based around the specifications.
By definition from the Construction Specifications Institute, Fellowship is one of the top two honors given by CSI. Fellows of the Institute are chosen by their peers. Nominees must have been members in good standing for not less than five years and have notably contributed to the advancement of construction technology, the improvement of construction specifications, education, or by service to the Institute.
I've known my friend and Let's Fix Construction co-founder, Cherise Lakeside, for just shy of seven years. Relatively fresh off of joining CSI, we met at CONSTRUCT, when it was held in Phoenix in September of 2012 by happenstance. In those seven years that I've known her, I've watched her give, give and give some more. Always selfless. Never asking for anything in return. Seven years of continually making up for the lost time of not being involved in CSI earlier in her professional career.
Cherise and I are friends. Friends talk. When she knew she would be nominated for Fellowship, she had her doubts. "I haven't been doing this long enough". "I haven't done enough". "I won't be selected". All thoughts that she uttered to me in private conversation. "You're full of it", I would respond. "I know of nobody else in CSI who has given more in seven years".
Even I was shocked on just how much Cherise has done for CSI and the construction industry in seven short years. I read a draft of her Fellowship submission and even I was in awe. CDT classes. Specs 101 presentations. Let's Fix Construction workshops. Dozens of blog posts. The list went on and on.
When I was on the shortlist of those that were asked to write a Letter of Endorsement for her earlier this year, I wondered to myself where I was going to start and where I was going to end. I've never met anyone who has said "I haven't done enough", but turns out has done a bit of everything. It turns out I had to stop myself at 1,500 words, and I felt that I only scratched the surface on describing what Cherise has done.
I submitted my Letter of Recommendation with little doubt of what the end result would be. I concluded my Letter with "I’m honored to call her a friend and I’ll be even more honored to call her a Fellow." On August 2nd, the information trickled out and joining John T. Dunaway, CSI, CCS and Kermit Duncan, CSI, CCCA in elevation to Fellowship on Thursday, October 10th in National Harbor, MD at CONSTRUCT will be my friend, Cherise Lakeside, CSI, CDT.
We've blogged about it, we've podcasted about it, we've mentioned it at our numerous Let's Fix Construction workshops.
CONSTRUCT is dedicated to bringing together all disciplines in the AEC industry. True to its history of breaking down barriers between the different players in the commercial construction process, CONSTRUCT attendees represent all disciplines in the AEC Commercial industry.
Today is the last day to save on registration and join us in National Harbor, Maryland from October 9th to the 11th. Prices go up at midnight and you'll still be able to register right up until the show on the 9th.
And what a day October 9th is! The fifth annual Emerging Professionals Day will be curated once again by Cherise Lakeside. If you are 35 and under, this is the true way to experience CONSTRUCT.
Also being held on October 9th is the brand new Product Rep University. We've been blogging quite a bit about this as I helped create this great event for building product marketers.
"Why did I help to create the Product Rep University? Because as a building product representative myself, I understand the important role that we reps have in the built environment. Knowing the phases of the project, who, when and how to talk to the project players and where to look for vital information in the project documents are critical components on becoming a trusted advisor and are all components covered as part of the Product Rep University."
Join me for my tenth consecutive CONSTRUCT in just two short months. I hope to see you there!
Once upon a time, I wrote about a project we were awarded in an article titled ‘Not Quite Ready Yet’. That piece was a follow up to piece called 'Project Compaction: Not Just for Soil'. In that article, I had taken part in a pre-construction meeting on February 25th where the contractor asked if we could install flooring on a slab five days after the concrete pour. Needing to understand that one correctly, I said run that by me one more time? Their contract to us had flooring finishes being installed between March 21st and April 12th and as of that call, the concrete slab had not even been placed. Well, time flies and I’m here to provide an update on the project. Officially, we’re done as of Friday July 26th. Which all-in-all, isn’t horrible as that’s only three months and change behind the schedule that was dictated to us.
Numerous times in the last week I was struck by a recurring issue, and one that wraps up my trilogy on this particular project in one of the five boroughs of New York City.
If you ask 100 people what they would like more of in the day, I would guess that a vast majority would answer time. Ask the modern marketer what one of their primary objectives is and most will tell you its to gain peoples time and attention.
All the time we’re being reminded how our time is short and how time is of the essence and within construction, it always seems to be a race against time and before we know it, crunch time. Well, I beg to ask, in a business where time is money, and money is time, how did we get to a point where we seemingly no longer respect someone else’s time?
So, on this project that we just wrapped, we were informed that there were site inspections scheduled for Monday on Friday the 19th. Now in a borough of 1.5 million people, I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that our customer, the General Contractor, had to schedule this inspection at least a few weeks in advance, if not a month or more. So, how is it we were told that we wouldn’t be able to work Monday, (which then turned into Tuesday as well) on a Friday afternoon?
Contributed by Liz O'Sullivan
I think there’s a big problem with the way substitutions are often handled, at least here in Colorado.
CSI has some great solutions – for example, 2 different substitution request forms, one for use during bidding, and one for use during construction. MasterSpec has what I consider to be fairly decent language regarding substitutions, in Division 01. But these solutions are often not implemented.
I think that “what we’ve got here is a failure to communicate” on several levels:
As a specifier, I sometimes add some language to the “acceptable products” list in each spec section that refers to the Division 00 section “Procurement Substitution Procedures” and/or Division 01 section “Substitution Procedures,” or if I have a Basis-of-Design product by one manufacturer listed, and a list of comparable manufacturers after that, I sometimes add language in each spec section that indicates that the contractor should “Comply with the requirements of Division 01 Section ‘Product Requirements’ for comparable product requests.”
But as with everything else, the project architect still has to know what’s in the specs (and then enforce the specs), the G.C. still has to comply with the requirements of the construction documents (and make sure his subs do too), and the Owner still has to understand that proposed substitutions have to be very carefully evaluated since everything was designed around the specified product.
I think this is where our work as CSI members lies – we should try to educate the rest of our industry about the roles that all parts of a project team play in this substitution process.
This post originally appeared on Liz O'Sullivan's website as "Substitutions: Often a Quagmire, but CSI Can Help"
WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT SUBSTITUTIONS & SUBMITTALS?
The NEW Product Rep University Program at CONSTRUCT has been designed to meet the needs of Manufacturer's Representatives of Architectural Building Products, as integral members of the project team. The program features a full day of education (6 sessions) which includes 'Substitutions and Submittals: Not So Dirty Words' presented by Michael Chambers. Get additional details on the Product Rep University here: www.constructshow.com/PRU
Download a Product Rep University flyer here.
CONSTRUCT will be held October 9 - 11, 2019 at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, MD. Read more on CONSTRUCT here. )
Let's Fix Construction is an avenue to offer creative solutions, separate myths from facts and erase misconceptions about the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry.
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