Contributed by Brent Williams
Hi, I’m Brent Williams and I’m a self-described construction materials geek. I come from an architecture background, but I was serendipitously detoured into the product rep world…and I’ve never looked back. Why, you ask?
Because I love working in the visual oriented design world that we live in. I’ve been lucky enough to become a hyper-specialist in one, weird little construction product. But my product is unusual & amazing, it solves a myriad of issues in the industry and I completely love my amazing job.
A big chunk of what a professional building product rep does on a daily basis is explain exactly where, why, how and how not to deploy these products to the design community. In medical terms, our friends in the Architecture world are General Practitioners, while the rep is a Micro Neurosurgeon. Architects, by the design of their craft, need to know at least a little bit about everything. Me? I need to know everything that there is about one tiny little thing. More importantly, I need to know what THEY need to know about my tiny little corner of the world.
And therein lies the magic, the alchemy, as it were. Product Reps have to communicate quickly and accurately, at an incredibly high level of proficiency, in both directions…both to and from the client. You simply must be empathetic, intuitive and proactive. Not the simplest matrix of executables and doubly tough to execute rapidly and on the fly. Nothing less than excellence will be tolerated by the modern construction industry.
An experienced rep needs to be both an incredible listener yet anticipate issues and questions almost before they are spoken. Frankly, all of us in the product representation arena either hold this skill set, or we’re not around very long. Check any employment website, or look on LinkedIn, and there are lots of vacancies for reps and lots of reps looking for employment.
If you think about it, just about everyone involved in the design industry must possess most of this skill set in order to be able to sustain the construction process. You either communicate at scale, or you’re gone. No quarter. You can’t do a proper program unless you can communicate at a very high level, with all of the constituents in and on a project.
Because I know my craft well and because I am blessed enough to actually be the sole independent technical support person in my corner of the industry, this is a pretty easy stunt for me to pull off. Thanks to more than 15 years as a Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) member, I’ve also learned specifically what is required from my clients, what the precise format that the information is required to be delivered in, and how to interface with the people and systems that need my information. I’ve learned to speak, emote and deploy marketing resources against my targets in the industry…and I’ve done pretty well at it.
Very early in my CSI career, I was encouraged to sit for my Construction Document Technologist (CDT) Certificate. At the time, I simply did not understand how that would be of benefit to my career.
I simply could not have been more wrong.
Earning my CDT Certificate was the single most important thing that I’ve ever done in my career field, and that includes my college education. No, I’m not kidding…it’s proven to be the best thing that I’ve ever done. Why, do you ask?
Because the CDT was fundamentally both a certificate and educational process that builds into the holder the understanding of every level and facet of the construction process.
Construction Law? It’s in there.
Submittals and how they work? They’re in there.
How everything is supposed to flow and how it’s all supposed to work together for good? It’s in there.
Stuff you didn’t even know existed in the construction process? They’re in there.
It’s the foundation of excellence for communication in the built environment. The CDT teaches you how it all works, how it all fits together and how the community works together for good. It ties together designers, specifiers, product reps, General Contractors, commissioning agents and more. It simply provides an efficient structure for project delivery. It is, in every facet, a conduit…delivering the information to the party that needs it in a timely and direct manner.
Today, the need for excellence in every facet of the construction process is only heightened, given that any information on the planet is available to anyone at just the click of a few key.
Information is plentiful, knowledge is cheap…but wisdom is becoming harder and harder to find."
CSI continues to lead the way in providing structure, systems and education to enhance the way in which we all communicate within the built environment and will continue to pursue that excellence. Special interests in the AEC industry, like USGBC, SCIP, DHI and other specialized voices, like letsfixconstruction.com, will add value and context to the community and let us continue the joint pursuit of excellence.
On July 1, 2018, the CDT program transitioned from a certificate to a certification, with the main change to the program adding prerequisites and a continuing education requirement. CDT certifications are only offered during a spring and a fall testing window each year and the spring window is fast approaching: 2019 CDT Exam early registration is February 11 to April 10 and the late registration is April 11 to Apr 30. The exam testing window is April 15 – May 24, 2019.
To read more about CDT Certification, please visit wwwcsiresources.org/certification/cdt
Personally, I’m going to continue to provide content, share best practices and continue my work in communication excellence. I’m stoked to see what is happening, how the community is truly striving to provide excellence and how the media market and the working world are beginning to blur for everyone. I’m happy to help, so reach out if I can be of assistance and please help me spread the word.
2019 CSI CDT Certification Study Groups and Courses
Editor's Note: Let's Fix Construction is not endorsing any particular CSI Chapter, group or company that is providing these study groups. This list is meant to be informative only. If your Chapter is offering a CDT Study Group for 2019, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the details to be added. )
Greater Lehigh Valley CSI is hosting 2019 CDT Study Sessions with instructor (and CSI Fellow), Mitch Miller at ATAS International, 6612 Snowdrift Road, Allentown, PA. Earn up to 12 AIA/CES LUs and register no later than Monday, January 21, 2019. FREE to CSI Members. Non-members $50. Details: http://ow.ly/muTG30nfqG0
Columbus State Community College offers a one day CDT Boot Camp in conjunction with the CSI Columbus Chapter twice a year - April and October, including a review of the CDT with sample questions and strategies to improve your success on the CDT. They also offer the same one day program embedded in the CSCC CMGT 1105 Documents course, along with a CDT Exam attempt. The course is offered every term through Columbus State face to face, and most terms online. Contact Dean Bortz email@example.com or 614-287-5033
CSI Chicago is offering their CDT Exam Study Class on Mondays January 7 - March 25, 2019, 5:30pm - 8:00pm (no class 2/18) at HACIA 650 W. Lake Street, Suite 415, Chicago. Details: http://ow.ly/72uC30neKVe
CSI Dallas Chapter is running a 2019 a CDT prep course that runs for 7 weeks from February 12 - March 26 from 6 - 8 pm.
CSI Indianapolis is planning to conduct a CDT Study group the five Saturdays in March 2019 from 9am to Noon at Schmidt Associates Architects, 415 Massachusetts Avenue, Indianapolis, IN. There will be a $30 (One time) free, checks Payable to the Indianapolis Education Foundation. Contact Jack P. Morgan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-508-4516
Minneapolis-St. Paul Chapter of CSI will be hosting CDT Study Sessions that run from February through March. Dates are locations are to be posted soon.
LACSI is offering CDT certification preparation classes at Gensler Los Angeles, 500 South Figueroa Street, Los Angeles, CA on Saturdays, February 2 – March 16 from 9 – Noon. Registration will close at the end of business on January 30th. Details: https://www.lacsi.org/events/lacsi-certification-preparation-classes-winter-spring-2019/
Mt. Rainier Chapter CSI is hosting 2019 CDT Study Group on 11 Tuesdays, starting January 08, 2019, 4-6pm
at Clover Park Technical College Building 19, Room 203, Lakewood, WA. Informational flyer: http://ow.ly/Zq1L30nfwff
Portland CSI is hosting 2019 CDT Study Classes instructed by Let's Fix Construction co-founder, Cherise Lakeside, at PAE Engineers, 522 SW 5th Ave #1500 in Portland, OR, but they will also be HELD ONLINE. All classes will be held from 6pm - 8pm on Wednesdays – February 6, 13, 20, 27 and March 6, 13, 20, 27 and concluding April 3. Details: http://ow.ly/Tply30neG48
Willamette Valley Chapter offers CDT Certification Exam preparation classes. Registration for the 2019 classes has closed, but CSI-WVC offers the 8-week sessions every January-March. For more information check out http://sworegonarchitect.blogspot.com/2018/10/2019-csi-certification-classes.html#.XDZ2MVVKhaQ or contact Randy Nishimura CSI, CCS, AIA at email@example.com or by phone at 541-342-8077.
See Portland CSI above http://ow.ly/Tply30neG48
West Region of CSI is offering ten weeks of an online 90 minute GoToMeeting starting Wednesday, January 23, 2019 from 11:45 AM to 1:15 PM (PT) and will occur each Wednesday through March 27. Click here for additional information and you may contact Patrick Comerford, CSI, CCPR – West Region CSI President at 805-402-2167 and firstname.lastname@example.org
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