Still Debating Taking the CDT Exam?

From a CSI news bulletin: 

Still debating taking the Construction Documents Technologist (CDT) Certificate exam? Participate in a FREE Webinar on the CDT Certificate on July 13, 2:00-3:00 p.m. ET.

The CDT 101 webinar is an opportunity for individuals to learn about the benefits of CSI's Construction Documents Technologist certificate. The webinar will cover the requirements and resources needed for successful exam preparation and study.

July 20 is the EARLY certification registration deadline for the fall exams, which will be held September 20-25, 2010! Learn more, or register for the exam.


Weak Link in Architectural Education

There is myth that architecture schools teach students about how to build.  But listen to what a leading academic* says about the studio system that is the heart of most architectural schools:

The AIA has targeted the teaching of how buildings are made as the weakest aspect of architectural education, and there is some merit to this charge. Because of time constraints (among other things), most traditional studios result in what can only be called schematic design. Design development, construction documents, materials and methods, and structures generally are taught as isolated subjects, and the transfer of that knowledge often is negligible.
This is both a bane and a boon for building product manufacturers:

On the downside, it helps perpetuate a culture of architectural practice in which many architects still do not give what I consider adequate regard for technical issues or the enforcement of specifications.

On the upside, it creates opportunities for manufacturers and reps to provide educational and technical services to architects, opportunities that can lead to potential sales.

* Steve Bananes, Howard S. Wright Professor at University of Washington in Architect Magazine, December 2009, pg 47.


State of Online Video

Exciting data on online video use, in an easy-to-understand format. Key facts:

  • Age 18-29 is still the top demographic, but 30-49 has caught up:19% to 17%!
  • 14% of net users have posted a video.
  • Social media sites narrowly edge out YouTube/Google in uploads.
  • Most common viewer has a college degree and earns over $75,000.
Check out the full image below:


5 Uses For Location-Aware Technology

Location-aware technology is the current hot-topic in social media circles. As is the case with most new forms of technologies, the first crop of applications are essentially toys and games (Foursquare, Gowalla, Brightkite, CauseWorld, etc.). The most successful and useful location-aware programs (Yelp, Twitter, photo galleries) are primarily preexisting programs that added location features. Either way, the underlying technology has huge implications and potential. Here are five ways location-aware technology can be useful in building product marketing:


Brand labels give your products extra exposure

My competitor labels its building products conspicuously with its name and logo. Though it doesn’t cost much, I’m not sure following that example will help my sales. Are architects and contractors influenced by seeing brand names on products in their buildings? Could there be a negative reaction?—I. L., product manager

Sew an alligator on a knit shirt and you can double the price. Embroider the right name on a pair of denim slacks and suddenly they become designer jeans. As proven in the consumer market, brand labeling can help shape customers’ product perceptions and heighten their awareness of your company.


Building Product Nutrition Labels Arrive in 2011

Light bulbs will display "nutritional labels" starting next year, according to an announcement from the FTC.

Starting in mid-2011, the Federal Trade Commission announced today, consumers shopping for light bulbs will notice new labeling on packaging designed to help them choose among the different types of bulbs on the market – traditional incandescent bulbs, and newer high-efficiency compact fluorescent (CFL) and light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs. The new labels will enable consumers to save money by selecting the most efficient bulbs that best fit their lighting needs.

Under direction from Congress to re-examine the current labels, the FTC is announcing a final rule that will require the new labels on light bulb packages. For the first time, the label on the front of the package will emphasize the bulbs’ brightness as measured in lumens, rather than a measurement of watts. The new front-of-package labels also will include the estimated yearly energy cost for the particular type of bulb.
Eco-insiders and sustainable design advocates have been predicting and calling for this type of labeling for years. Light bulbs are particularly well suited to the treatment, given the confusing interplay of wattage, lumens, energy cost, and more; I expect that if this program is successful it will quickly spread to other building products. Voluntary and preemptive labeling could help companies get ahead of the curve and cement their reputation for environmental leadership.

H/T TreeHugger and EcoGeek for the tip.


CONSTRUCT 2011 - Call for Presentations

Call for Presentations
Due 9/6/10

Theme: Progressive Thinking. Practical Solutions.

CONSTRUCT is committed to promoting a comprehensive education program for construction and design professionals, the people they serve, the environment, emerging technology and the economic impact to businesses.  CONSTRUCT is now accepting submissions for the 2011 educational program.  

CONSTRUCT provides an excellent opportunity and venue to showcase the latest industry updates and case studies for the commercial building and construction market.  The presentation theme focuses on taking design ideas using progressive thinking and the interpretation by offering practical solutions. 


AIA 2011 Announcement & Call for Presentations

Announcement & Call for Presentations Due July 1

AIA 2011 National Convention and Design Exposition
Regional design REVOLUTION: ecology matters
New Orleans, May 12-14, 2011


Taking .xxx Seriously For A Moment

ICANN announced the creation of the long-expected .xxx domain. Putting aside the inevitable wave of jokes and giggling, there is reason for your business to take this seriously. It may be important for your company to register the .xxx version of your domain name in order to protect your brand and online identity from becoming associated with a porn site. Especially if your company name, product, industry segment, or important keywords are... a potentially good source of puns.

Which much of the construction industry is.


Customizing QR Codes

One of the top questions at my presentation last week on QR codes was how to make customized codes that incorporate company colors, logos, etc. The extremely artistic codes may require decoding software (to determine which parts of the image are essential), lots of trial and error, and someone who can, well, draw.

I cannot draw, and only have basic graphic editing software at the office, but I do have a good supply of trial and error, so I spent some time this morning seeing what I could produce with a simple QR code and Photoshop. Fortunately our logo is simple, geometric, and square-based, so we got some good  results.

For the first attempt I simply layered the logo over the QR code and made it slightly transparent:


Greenwash of Week

The following claim is from a building product manufacturer's sales literature:

"The copper used by [Company] is recycled, is recyclable and has a zero life cycle cost, since it is warranted for the life of the wall."
Copper products can contain high percentages of recycled content, provide a long service life, and can be recycled without loss of metallurgical value. However, it is greenwash to claim that this amounts to a zero life cycle cost.

The cost of fabricating, transporting, and installing the product virtually guarantees that the product will have a positive life cycle cost. The only exception I can imagine would be if the raw value of copper escalates so much that the product's scrap value in the future offsets the present value of construction. But I doubt the manufacturer intends to warrant this economic claim.

The sales sheet would have been just as effective if the manufacturer had claimed:

"The copper used by [Company] is recycled, is recyclable and is warranted for the life of the wall."


Housing Shortage Coming?

The current low level of housing construction may lead to a surge in housing construction once the economy improves. That is the finding of an article from CNNMoney (2010-06-15):
As the nation struggles to shrug off the worst housing crash since the Great Depression, it may be hard to believe a housing shortage could be on its way. The nation is simply not building enough homes to keep up with potential demand. Just 672,000 new homes were started in April, less than half the long-term run rate needed to meet the nation's natural population growth. "It is ironic, but there is a growing consensus that there may be a new housing shortage coming," said James Gaines, a real estate economist with Texas A&M.
 Read the full article here.


5 Essential Social Media Tools for Manufacturers

With so many social media options available, the biggest challenge in starting a campaign is deciding which systems not to use. Most successful social media campaigns will be multichannel, but starting with too many platforms is overwhelming. For most companies it will work best to start with a small, focused campaign, and gradually grow to include new networks and technology. With that in mind, here are five tools I consider essential for a successful social media launch:


Reed Construction Data and Hanley Wood Announce Alliance to Deliver Enhanced Product Directories to the Construction Marketplace

We just received a notice that Reed Construction Data and Hanley Wood, LLC will be entering a strategic alliance that we believe will enhance the way information is transferred among the building product industry.  Read below for the press release.

NORCROSS, GA (June 10, 2010) - Reed Construction Data (RCD) and Hanley Wood, LLC today announced they have signed a letter of intent to enter into a strategic alliance that will open up proprietary information channels in a pioneering effort to deliver richer, more valuable content to the construction industry.

The alliance will leverage the existing products, audiences, customer relationships, capabilities and expertise of each organization to deliver the most comprehensive, data and content rich directories in the commercial construction marketplace and other construction related audiences.


Product Inspiration from Neocon

I salute the spirit of innovation that moves the building product industry forward. Here are just a few of the things I saw at Neocon that suggest new opportunities and may inspire innovations in your product line.

Chairs from TMC Furniture with digitally printed graphics remind us that new options are available for decorated surfaces.

White LED light continues to be improved, more affordable, and more practical. Look at how even and brilliant these cove lights from Tempo Industries are. Watch for LEDs to be inserted into all sorts of building products.

The design of this table lamp is not what interests me, it is the design process. This was stereolithically printed by the designer, Kevin Willmorth, as part of his campaign to design and produce a lamp a week for 52 weeks.

In addition to LEDs, there are other new ways to play with lighting. I think you have to see these Sensitile panels in person to appreciate how they play with light and create the illusion of motion.

New installation methods abound. For example, ceramic tile with an interlocking, floating installation to keep tiles aligned, reduce installation time, and protect against cracks in a concrete slab from telegraphing through the tile.

I have written before about the trendy use of tessellations, and they were very evident at the show. This product, Clouds from Kradrat, is composed of stiffened fabric tessellations of triangles joined together by elastic bands. It can be used as an acoustical wall or ceiling covering, or just for fun.

Also see my earlier post about the growing variety of dry erase marker boards.


NeoCon Call for Presentations

You are invited to submit presentation ideas for consideration at future NeoCon shows produced by Merchandise Mart Properties, Inc. (MMPI). A leader in trade show development, management and production, MMPI produces more than 300 trade shows, market events and conferences each year.


Due October 1, 2010
We’re Looking For A Few Good Speakers

If you have an interesting presentation or an idea that could be developed into an educational session, you are invited to submit a written proposal. By submitting a proposal, you will help shape the educational conferences at various MMPI events and the future of your industry. If selected as a conference speaker, you will gain visibility in the industry and contribute to the advancement of your profession. Complete the application and return it by the deadline listed for each show.

If you need ideas or help formatting a proposal, Chusid Associates can help.  This group also needs speakers for other events in other cities.  See their other events here.


5 Uses for QR Codes in Construction

QR code for
I am giving a presentation today on QR Codes for the local AAF chapter. The question I get most, besides "What are QR Codes?", is "How can I use these in my industry?" With that in mind, we brainstormed a list of five ways QR codes could become useful in construction.


Goodbye Green Wash - Not Quite

UL Environmental is a new division of Underwriters Laboratories and offers "independent green claims validation, product certification, training, advisory services and standards development."

In their exhibit at Neocon, they were giving away bars of soap emblazoned with the slogan, "Goodbye Green Wash." The slogan and the soap create a strong and memorable image that explains the benefit of the company's services.

Still, they missed valuable opportunities to "walk the talk":
  • The packaging does not list products ingredients, place of manufacturer, or whether sustainable paper and printing were used -- important information that can help a consumer assess the environmental impact of the product.
  • More, the fragrance in the soap, while pleasant enough, could irritate show attendees with chemical sensitivities, and does not support environmental goals for indoor air quality.
The point I am trying to make is that claiming an environmental benefit for a product can act, ironically, as an invitation for greater scrutiny of all aspects of the product.

A Neocon publication from Interior Design, written by Penny Bonda, put it this way:
Remember, as you engage with showroom personnel, to ask the right questions: Where did this product come from? What is it made of? How is it made? How is it maintained? How does it affect the well-being of the building occupants? How much energy does it use? How do I know you're telling me the truth? Knowing whom to trust in this era of greenwash is a huge challenge, sorting out the science is difficult for those not schooled in technical matters.
On the positive side, the soap is one piece of trade show swag that I will probably use, unlike the plastic gizmos that will sit on my desk for a week and then wind up in a recycling bin or trash can.


Marker Board Mania

Marker boards, also known as white boards, were ubiquitous at Neocon this year, the annual contract furniture expo at the Chicago Merchandise Mart. The shift is not only quantitative but qualitative – “markerability” has been incorporated into a surprising variety of architectural surfaces and building furnishings. This suggests the trend may offer opportunities for other building product manufacturers.


5 Essential Press Kit Pieces

Trade show season is in full swing, with the AIA show last week, NeoCon this week, and preparations getting under way for Greenbuild (you have started preparing for Greenbuild, right?) and once again I am amazed by the number of companies, exhibitors even, that do not put out a press kit. Or even worse, have an ineffective one.

Creating and maintaining a useful press kit does not need to be expensive or time consuming. If you have active year-round publicity then you probably already have every thing you need, and can add or replace using the newest releases and articles. But even starting from scratch it should be a pain-free experience.


Chusid Associates at NeoCon 2010

Michael Chusid will be at NeoCon in Chicago next week discussing the newest building trend -- tessellations. Will you be there?

Date: Tuesday, June 15 
Time: 2:30PM - 3:30PM 

Modern ceilings must meet goals for both sustainable and aesthetic design. Compare various materials for ceiling construction including wood, metal, and high recycled-content materials for cost, dimensionality, lighting flexibility and other aspects like ease of use. Learn how to make great ceilings with a reduced environmental impact. Learn how ceiling panels can provide shape and dimension for better aesthetic expression. Learn to consider acoustical characteristics of perforated panels to meet a variety of architectural challenges. [basic] [FC/R] [HSW]

Michael Chusid, FCSI, RA, CCS, is principal of Chusid Associates in Tarzana, Calif.


Apple's Tech Failure

Apple had a technical failure during a keynote demo, and it provides an important reminder for us all: always, always, always practice extensively with any technology you will be using in your presentation before you arrive at the presentation! Know how to set it up, how to operate it, how to take it apart, and have a backup plan in place for when you forget the one cable that makes the whole thing work, batteries die, or they give you a projector but no screen.


Engineering Design and Its Relationship to Product Liability

Guest post from Mark Pasamaneck, PE 
In this article, I will explore the relationship between the engineeringdesign process and the failure of a plumbing component as it
relates to product liability.
     In the litigious society in which we live, everyone connected to
the life-cycle of a plumbing component should be concerned with
its long-term suitability as it exists in any plumbing system. As an
engineer or designer of a plumbing component, you should have
a desire to go beyond just limiting liability. As described in the
codes and most engineering ethics documents, a designer must be
concerned with protecting the people and property exposed to his
design from seen or unseen damage and hazards.


5 Products from Dwell on Design

I went with my husband and two young kids to check out what's new in design at the Dwell on Design show last year. I wrote this post but forgot to put it online until now. Fortunately, these products still have an air of freshness about them.

Dwell magazine and the show focus on residential interiors, a milleu in which new ideas, materials, and technologies can move rapidly into the marketplace. Thus, the show can be a harbinger of styles and technologies.

Here's a list of my 5 favorite things from the show:

Fencing Low Table by BRC Designs

Pebbles by EIS Studio

Playgoda by Gregg Fleishman

Woolly Pockets modular garden systems

Real Door Inc. Custom doors & windows

I hope to attend the show again this year, in Los Angeles, CA from June 24-26, 2011. Hopefully, I will post my favorites in a more timely manner. See you at the show!


Prevent Drive-By Shootings

Getting good quality, high-resolution photos of our client's projects is one of the biggest challenges we face when preparing marketing collateral.

One of our clients put it this way, "I give my staff good cameras and tell them to take lots of photos when they visit our projects. But what I get back looks like a drive by shooting. I tell them they have to get out of the car, or at least get off the freeway before taking pictures."

I loved his phrase and thought you might too.


How to Hold a Contest on Twitter, Facebook, or a Blog

Building Product Manufacturers can learn how to shape up their marketing strategies by using some mainstream consumer marketing campaign techniques.

If you are on Twitter, Facebook, or are a frequent blog reader, you're probably following someone or are a fan of a brand that you like.  So that means you are obviously already a fan of Chusid Associates,, and are following @ChusidAssociate on Twitter.  You may even be the lucky winner of a prize or two due to the contests your favorite companies have held (like me! -- I recently won a trip from Southwest and Marriott Napa and a TBD surprise from Burke Williams Spa).  I have been a contestant in many other contests but wasn't as lucky.

                                 This is an example of a contest that I did not win but wish I did. It was done
                                 via Twitter, Facebook, and having customers join their email newsletter lists. 

More and more companies are starting to hold contests via Twitter, Facebook, and their blogs in order to drive traffic to their websites, gain brand ambassadors, and to establish their reputations as passion brands who care about their customers.

As soon as you create a decent-sized social media audience for your company, it's time to keep them coming back. What does everyone love? Free stuff.  What better way is there to keep people coming back to your site? That's right, give them a free window, or door, or 75% off an order and free shipping!


Social Media tips from Joy Davis, CSI

Joy Davis, CSI recently presented the following slide show about social media at the Construct 2010 convention in Philadelphia.  Look for our newsletter on slide 19.

Follow Joy at CSIConstruction (Twitter), LinkedIn or Facebook 
Read CSI's blog here.


Do Certifications Get You In the Door?

Product Representation Practice Group: 
CDT and CCPR – 
Do Certifications Get You In the Door?

Join us for a Webinar on June 14


How AT&T's limits on data use will impact A/E/C users

AT&T announced yesterday they are eliminating unlimited data plans, capping the "premium" plan at 2GB per month, with fees for additional gigabytes. Reports suggest Verison has a similar plan in the works. Some commentators are getting a bit melodramatic about this step, but there will be potentially serious impacts on the way we use mobile data, especially in an industry like construction where files tend to be large and graphic intensive.


Is the internet private?

The one fact everyone knows about lockpicking, gleaned from years of action movies and police-procedural tv shows, is that any lock can be picked; it's just a matter of time. I just finished listening to a podcast from South by Southwest, one of the major social media conferences, that reminded me the same is true of internet privacy.

Recently Facebook has been in the news again for privacy issues; some of you may even have observed Quit Facebook Day, a coordinated effort to get users to leave Facebook in protest of its new privacy policies. At the root of the issue is that most users don't even know they can change their privacy settings, let alone that they need or might want to. There is an assumption of privacy that is just plain wrong; the default settings share almost everything with the entire internet.

Michael and I presented a course on ethics for the San Diego CSI chapter last week, and group discussion focused strongly on the ethics of social media and internet technologies in the construction industry. Privacy issues will be a major part of this over the next few years, as we deal with issues of who is responsible for protecting specific information, who is allowed to release it, and who is liable when privacy is breached. Whether your company is fully immersed in social media or still using your original webpage design, these are issues you need to address now to stay ahead of the curve.

The issue of internet privacy keeps coming back to one simple concept: if you put it on the internet, it's not private. Think of it as a conversation on a crowded subway train; there's so much noise it will be hard for someone to eavesdrop, and if no one on the train knows you it's unlikely they will even care enough to try. Regardless, you just had a conversation in front of dozens of people, anyone of whom could have listened or recorded what you said. This is the privacy of the internet.


Trend: Stilted Construction

In an attempt to minimize flood damage from hurricanes, some communities on the East Coast are promoting construction on stilts. Elevating buildings allows storm surges to flow underneath structures rather than hitting them broadside.

West Coast communities are starting to get into (onto?) stilts for another reason: to avoid damage and deaths due to tsunami.  A small town in coastal Oregon has broken ground for a new municipal structure on stilts.


Building an Intellectual Property Portfolio

Sales and profits are certainly an important measure of value, but most successful businesses also build the value of the worth of their firms by building a portfolio of intellectual property. Patents, trade secrets, copyrights, and trademarks are the fruit of a company's creativity and must be protected.

With this in mind, I am pleased to report that one of our clients has had their brand registered as a trademark by the US Patent and Trademark Office. Chusid Associates helped the founders of Lythic Solutions, Inc. select the name of their start-up company, and then helped guide them through the process of applying for and obtaining trademark registration for LYTHIC.

The firm is well on its way to creating brand awareness among targeted prospects.



The core of marketing is communication. The following quotes inspire me to be a better communicator, and offer fresh ways to think about the dynamic of marketing:

Be sincere; be brief; be seated.

- Franklin D. Roosevelt

I quote others only in order the better to express myself.
- Michel deMontaigne

If I am to speak ten minutes, I need a week for preparation; if fifteen minutes, three days; if half an hour, two days; if an hour, I am ready now.
- Woodrow Wilson

Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.
- Rudyard Kipling

The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously.
- Hubert H. Humphrey

Argument is the worst sort of conversation.
- Jonathan Swift

Try the experiment of communicating, with fullness and accuracy, some experience to another, especially if it be somewhat complicated, and you will find your own attitude toward your experience changing.
- John Dewey

In describing today's accelerating changes, the media fire blips of unrelated information at us. Experts bury us under mountains of narrowly specialized monographs. Popular forecasters present lists of unrelated trends, without any model to show us their interconnections or the forces likely to reverse them. As a result, change itself comes to be seen as anarchic, even lunatic.
- Alvin Toffler

Verbosity leads to unclear, inarticulate things.
- Dan Quayle

To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.
- Tony Robbins

I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.
- Robert McCloskey

To listen well is as powerful a means of communication and influence as to talk well.
- John Marshall

People change and forget to tell each other.
- Lillian Hellman

Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something.
- Plato

The problem with communication ... is the illusion that it has been accomplished.
- George Bernard Shaw

Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
- Stephen Covey

Many attempts to communicate are nullified by saying too much.
- Robert Greenleaf

The colossal misunderstanding of our time is the assumption that insight will work with people who are unmotivated to change. Communication does not depend on syntax, or eloquence, or rhetoric, or articulation but on the emotional context in which the message is being heard. People can only hear you when they are moving toward you, and they are not likely to when your words are pursuing them. Even the choices words lose their power when they are used to overpower. Attitudes are the real figures of speech.
- Edwin H. Friedman

When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.
- Ernest Hemingway

The newest computer can merely compound, at speed, the oldest problem in the relations between human beings, and in the end the communicator will be confronted with the old problem, of what to say and how to say it.
- Edward R. Murrow

One of the basic causes for all the trouble in the world today is that people talk too much and think too little. They act impulsively without thinking. I always try to think before I talk.
- Margaret Chase Smith

Whenever two good people argue over principles, they are both right.
- Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach

The more elaborate our means of communication, the less we communicate.
- Joseph Priestley

Lying is done with words and also with silence.
- Adrienne Rich

Even if you do learn to speak correct English, whom are you going to speak it to?
- Clarence Darrow

Getting information off the Internet is like taking a drink from a fire hydrant.
- Mitchell Kapor

Communication is the real work of leadership.
- Nitin Nohria 

Michael Chusid has been a consultant to over 100 successful organizations in the building products industry. He serves an international clientele from offices in Los Angeles, California.
- Marketing Strategy, Start-Up, Repositioning
- Product Development, Testing, Approvals
- Advertising, Public Relations, Online Media
- Promotion, Continuing Education, Trade Shows
- Sales & Technical Literature, Guide Specifications

  © Blogger template Simple n' Sweet by 2009

Back to TOP