We Are Not Truss Fabricators.
This is an essay by Mike Ruede as part of the ongoing “President’s Message” series in SBCA Magazine.
Every CM is more than that and has the potential to be a lot more with today’s technology.
As I enter into the role of SBCA president for the coming year, I am convinced that we need to change how we look at our businesses and our employees. This indus-try has been around for more than six decades; we obviously know what we’re doing. A lot of innovation has gone into the design and manufacture of our products over that time as well. Yet, we continue to approach our customers like it’s the 1970s. It’s frustrating that we still need to convince our customers that our products are the best way to frame a building!
Technology has been a game changer for all of us. From high-powered PCs on every desk and the agile design software we run on them to the automated saws that inte-grate with that software and the lasers and automated pucks that make truss table lay-outs more efficient and accurate, virtually everything has changed about our industry besides the wood and connector plates.
Who is designing trusses using span tables, hand calculations, and drafting tables? No one. So why would anyone be resistant to adopting the technology available to us today? I’m not just talking about automation. I’m talking about tablets, lasers, blue lights, handheld scanners, virtual reality, and software that enables us to track any and every aspect of our business to get real-time information. I would submit that if you aren’t devoting some of your time figuring out what is out there and how you can you use it right now, you’re being foolish.
Don’t be stuck doing things the same way simply because they work. We no longer live in an age where you “don’t fix what ain’t broke.” You need to seek continual improvement or you face even-tual extinction. Why not make your processes more efficient? Why not make your products cost less money yet perform even better? Why not have more money on your bottom line to invest back into your employees and your operations?
For too long, individual CMs – and our industry as a whole – have lived in the present and dealt with what was right in front of us. We need to be thinking forward. We need to be the ones who are defining the role we want to play in tomorrow’s market because, if we don’t, our customers will define it for us. We already know how that will turn out. Our businesses will be focused on just one thing: manufac-turing the lowest cost commodity trusses, wall panels, and related components.
We need to get away from the low-ball approach in the market. This industry has had that mentality baked into its soul because it started in a place where it had to prove itself and compete against master craftsmen efficiently banging sticks together. Again, that isn’t the reality of today or tomorrow. No one else can more fully optimize what a 2×4 can accomplish, nor do so in such a reliable manner, yet we give ourselves no credit for that. We continue to let the commodity lumber market mentality dictate the value of our products. That just doesn’t make any sense. Who is going to point out the true value we provide to our customers if we aren’t doing it?
This coming year, I want our industry, through the association and its individual CM and supplier members, to more broadly communicate to the market all the value we truly provide and make the case we deserve more for it.
Alongside that effort, we are going to create a five-year strategic plan for SBCA that will act as a clear roadmap for us to achieve our goals. We need your input and your par-ticipation. We started this conversation at BCMC a couple weeks ago, but it’s important everyone’s voice is heard. If you have some thoughts on what you think SBCA should or shouldn’t be doing for you going forward, we want to know. Reach out to me.
Mike Ruede, SBCA President
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