Contributed by Eric D. Lussier
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 Providence from September 13 - 15. 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, 2015 was St. Louis and 2016 was Austin), 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 7 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 $275 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 next week, I get to physically see them again.
I feel very fortunate to be involved in CONSTRUCT in more ways than one in 2017. I am a first time Advisory Council member, where myself and 11 other industry professionals helped whittle the 200+ submissions for education presentations down to the forty or so that will be given. I will also be speaking alongside Ms. Cherise Lakeside on two instances: Wednesday, September 13th, we will be hosting 'Let's Fix Construction: An Interactive Luncheon' and Friday the 15th we will debut a new session titled 'She’s a Specifier, He’s a Product Rep: Different Roles, Same Goals'.
You still have time to attend CONSTRUCT. Trust me that it will be a conference 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, next week and beyond.
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