An Earthshaking Opportunity

I felt the earth move last week, even though I was hundreds of miles from the epicenter of the earthquake. It was a reminder of the near certainty that there will be a major, devastating earthquake in the US in the near future.

We all know that individuals, businesses, and institutions must plan for earthquakes and other disasters, building product manufacturers can also plan ahead.

As the map shows, earthquake (and tsunami) opportunities are not just for the West Coast market. Indeed, faults in the Midwest and near large population centers of the East Coast are more vulnerable to loss of property and life.

Advances in building standards usually occur in response to natural disasters. As scientists, underwriters, and policymakers study the lessons learned from quakes in Haiti, Chile, Mexico, and Japan, more stringent building codes are likely to emerge.

But there is no need for you to wait until then. Now is the time to take a fresh look at your product offering to determine if your products can help create safer buildings. Give me a call if you want to discuss your opportunities; your initial call is always free. I look forward to hearing from you.


Journal of Advanced and High-Performance Materials

The first issue of Journal of Advanced and High-Performance Materials was published this winter. The new periodical introduces readers to the recently formed Advanced and High-Performance Materials Program, which the National Institute of Building Sciences manages for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Science & Technology Directorate, Infrastructure & Geophysical Division.

JMAT is one of three periodicals, along with the Journal of Building Enclosure Design (JBED) and Journal of Building Information Modeling (JBIM) published by NIBS.

While it is unlikely to become a major industry publication, it reaches industry leaders in government, research, and academia. It will also reach leading engineers and technical consultants working on advanced materials. These thought leaders will be interested in advanced materials and technologies being developed by building product manufacturers and their suppliers. It accepts contributed articles and advertising.


Tic-Tac-Toe, 3 product issues in a row

All in a row, three major architectural magazines have invited manufacturers to nominate products for their annual new product competitions:

Architectural Products  

  • Product Innovation Awards: For products, materials and systems that offer attributes, qualities, design, functionality and/or performance beyond the standard. Products entered do not need to be "new" to the market. $95 entry fee.
  • To be published in November issue.
  • Submittal deadline: July 22
  • Product Spec Guide: Submitted products must be green and must have been released within the past year. No entry fee.
  • Product categories: Envelope, Interiors, Systems, Outdoor, Materials, Lighting.
  • To be published in Fall 2011 Product Spec Guide. 
  • Submittal deadline August 5
Architectural Record
  • Product Reports: Presenting the most innovative and useful building products of year. No entry fee.
  • To be published in December 2011 issue.
  • Submittal deadline September 9 
Exposure in any of these issues produces great exposure and the bragging rights of being selected as a winner. And if your product is not selected for the product issues, editors may still showcase your product in a latter issue.

Since the cost of entry is so low, why not enter all three? You can pretty much use the same write-up to enter.  Call Chusid Associates at +1 818 774 0003 or click here for assistance in nominating your products.


Tessellation Trends

Tessellated patterns, the repetition of a geometric shape, is currently in vogue for architectural design, and building product manufacturers are responding with innovative product shapes.
Chusid Associates has written two articles about the trend:

Update 2011-Oct-09

George Baty of Cresset Chemical brings to my attention the exciting tessellated paving stones by Gecko Stone:


Finding Hidden Architects

How can a building product manufacturer or sales rep stay in touch with architects that are working out of their homes and other unconventional business venues?
A recent post by Architectural Record discusses architects working out of storefronts and other unconventional locations as survival strategies during these tough times, including the one shown above who sets up his "Architecture 5 Cents" booth at farmers' markets.

While architects have always been nomadic, moving from office-to-office as they hire then fire for big projects, the recent recession has made it even more difficult for manufacturers and sales reps to locate their prospects.

Here are some tips:


Twitter Augments Webinars

When you do a face-to-face seminar, the side conversations around the table help participants understand the information being presented, and to apply it to their own needs. For example, Charlie turns to Jane and whispers, "This would solve our problem on the new High School project."

This interactive aspect has been missing in many webinars.  Until now.

Twitter conversation during webinar enabled participants to ask questions and share insights.
Joy Davis, manager of CSI's online programs, conducted a demonstration during a seminar she presented recently at a CSI Chapter meeting. Her presentation was about use of social media in the construction industry. So she incorporated social media by simultaneously sharing her slideshow and talk with specifiers across the nation via webiar. Participants were also encouraged to engage in side conversations via Twitter.

A transcript of the Twitter feeds is at While some of the comments are just chatter, serious information is also being exchanged, and relationships are being fostered. The tweets were projected on a screen at the live CSI meeting so the people in seats could benefit from the comments, and I suspect a few people in the physical audience were also conversing online.

Like it or not, this type of interactivity and further social media innovations will affect your business in the near future. Since anyone can create a hashtag to start a side conversation during a webinar, it might as well be you -- at least you will know about the conversation and be able to follow-up. Used wisely, Twitter feeds like this can be an important way to extend your sales effectiveness.


Red Listed Products

Living Building Challenge Version 2
Acceptance is growing for a "Red List" of materials that are considered environmentally hazardous. The Red List, created by Living Building Challenge, precludes usage of the following:
  • Asbestos
  • Cadmium
  • Chlorinated Polyethylene and Chlorosulfonated Polyethlene
  • Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)
  • Chloroprene (Neoprene)
  • Formaldehyde
  • Halogenated Flame Retardants
  • Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs)
  • Lead
  • Mercury
  • Petrochemical Fertilizers and Pesticides
  • Phthalates
  • Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
  • Wood treatments containing creosote, arsenic or pentachlorophenol
These compounds are found in many building materials; finding and adopting suitable alternatives will require a significant investment for many manufacturers.

The investment may be worthwhile, however, since the number of developers prohibiting Red List materials is increasing. For example, Google is among organizations that have banned the use of Red List products. Google is alleged to be building facilities at the rate of 40,000 sq. ft. a week.

Anthony Ravitz, Google’s project coordinator for real estate and workplace services, says the firm's decision is based on an economic analysis of the true costs of using a material, including the health and vitality of its employees and avoiding expensive claims for illness due to exposure to potentially dangerous materials. He calls upon manufacturers to provide better transparency about what is in their products, saying, “We don’t have complete information about what’s in our products. It’s not readily available. Until we have that, it will be difficult to make the best decisions.”


Union Training Centers

Today's trainees.
Tomorrow's customers.
A recent visit to the Cement Masons and Plasterers Training Centers of Washington ( is a good reminder of how important it is for building product manufacturers to work with labor organizations. The center provides vocational skills and business training and stress safety and craftsmanship.

I visited the Training Center as the guest of a product manufacturer. From the way he was greeted by the center's director and staff, it was clear that he was important to their program. In turn, the manufacturer got to use the Center to train its customers.

The Center had just had a series of classes on how to install self-leveling cementitious toppings. Building product manufacturers got to donate materials and to have their experts come and do the training. The results were instructive as the students got hands-on experience with a variety of products. Inspecting the work afterwards, it was also clear which ones performed, and which had shrinkage cracking or other defects. You can be sure, each of the participants shared their observations with their colleagues out on job sites.


Social Media for Construction - Webinar

Social Media for Construction Professionals

Joy Davis, CSI's Social Media Champion, will be presenting this program at a CSI Chapter while simultaneously broadcasting it via a webinar and having a Twitter Feed so folks around the world can engage in simultaneous conversation about the topic.  Come and learn about the future of collaboration.

Join us for a Webinar on July 14 Space is limited.

Reserve your Webinar seat now at: 

Whether you’re considering a blog, a Facebook page, a Twitter feed, a LinkedIn profile or another social networking option, if you’re “experienced” in the real world, you have something to offer online -- and social media has something to offer you in return. It doesn’t matter if you’re a one-man shop, or one-of-many in a firm. You can build credibility, demonstrate your expertise, and expand your network through the web. A decent web-presence can be as valuable to you as a well-written resume or a colorful brochure about your company.

This presentation focuses on understanding what social media is and how it works, so that you can approach any social media platform with confidence. We’ll look at the actual social media examples set by other CSI members, and see how some of the principles of construction documentation carry over into social media.

Twitter Users: We’re hosting a tweet-chat during this webinar. Please use hashtag #CSIFutureCom to participate.

Title: Social Media for Construction Professionals Date: Thursday, July 14, 2011 Time: 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM EDT

After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.


QR Codes Go Mainstream

As we have been predicting, QR codes are arriving at some sort of critical mass in the US, and suddenly, you see them everywhere.  Home depot has them on store displays.  They’re on the news.  A headstone maker is putting them on gravestones.

They may look like a maze puzzle to you, but to a smart phone with a (free) QR-reader app, they are a link to information, like a bar code on steroids.

Most current applications simply use the code to link to a website.  At Home Depot, a QR code attached to a display model links you to the Home Depot web page about the product. The gravestone-maker similarly uses the QR code to link to a web page about the deceased.  (The code, etched in stone, will probably outlast the web page.)


Product Life Cycles

This is an encore of an article by Michael Chusid that was first published over a decade ago.  The specific examples cited are no longer accurate, but the principles remain the same.
An awareness of building product trends can contribute to an architect's ability to stay in the forefront of design and technology. The marketing concept of  "product life cycle" provides a  useful tool for this. By evaluating where a product is in its life cycle, an architect can anticipate  changes in its availability, recognize new channels of promotion and distribution, assess the risks associated with its use, and make sense of the rapid evolution and introduction of new products.

Product life cycles are typically divided into four phases based on sales performance, and form a characteristic "S"-shaped curve. The introduction of a  new product is marked by slow sales growth. It takes time to train salesmen, build distribution channels, overcome reluctance to change established behavioral patterns, and get the new product into the specification pipeline. Manufacturers must identify innovative customers and work closely with them during this phase to persuade them to give the product a trial. Because of heavy start-up costs and promotional requirements, little or no profit is realized by a manufacturer during this phase, despite typically high prices. Intelligent building systems are in this introductory phase.


Recycling Bone as a Building Material

LEED and other recent environmental initiatives have increased the construction industry's awareness of recycled content in building materials. However, finding alternative uses for industrial "waste" is not a new concept. This is made clear by recent archeological excavations in London that reveal how the bone core of horns were used as masonry units.

After the Romans settled in today’s London, Aldgate surroundings (eastwards from the city wall) were turned into a cemetery. But in the Post-Medieval period, Prescot Street was transformed from an essentially rural situation on the fringe of the City, into a densely populated central district. Among the on-going archaeological excavations at this site, a horn core pit has been discovered, showing the intense industrial activity in the area.
The pit itself consists of a cylindrical void with a perimeter structure built with animal horns as a cheaper alternative to bricks. These kind of industrial memories are often found in areas known for small-scale industry, such as ivory-working, tanning, bell founding and glass making.[...] These pits are sometimes used as soak-aways.” (
Underlying the basement slabs were large deposits of Post-Medieval soils that had been truncated by two large soak-aways and one small, and a horn core pit constructed from the horn cores of long horn cattle. This is significant because ‘horning’ was once an important industry in the area... ‘Horners’ were skilled craftsmen who worked horn from cattle to create a range of artifacts from drinking vessels to buttons, and from panels in lanterns (when sliced very thinly) to tool handles.
The waste from this procedure, the horn core, was not discarded, and was frequently reused as a lining for round pits with vertical sides dug deep into the ground. The horn cores were inter-woven to offer a degree stability to the structure, and the pit was then used for the disposal of domestic waste. They essentially performed the same function as the soak-aways, with waste material being dumped into them so that the waste water would drain away into the natural gravels below, while the remaining solids were broken down over time by bacterial action. (
What would it take to get an ICC-ES Evaluation Report on such a construction material today?

Photos from


CSI Academy: Construction Product Reps

Become part of Project Team
The date and location for the next CSI Academies has been set. The event will take place March 1-3, 2012 in San Diego. Along with training for construction specifiers and construction contract administrators, the program also includes CSI's Product Representative Academy.

Designed for experienced building product professionals, the Academy instills confidence by teaching you the roles and responsibilities of all the construction teams, and how they should interact (and what to do when they don’t!) You will improve your marketability and productivity with skills and information you can use immediately.

The Product Rep Academy will help you become a product representative who understands more than the product – know where and how you fit into the construction process, and become a useful resource the design team will call on again and again. We’ll teach you best practices for presenting products and supporting the design and construction teams. Manufacturers will tell you what you need to know about their products – we’ll give you the skills to present that information and succeed in the commercial construction community.

Chusid Associates highly recommends this program to everyone involved in building product sales, marketing, and customer service.

Questions? Email


Social Media for AEC Industry

While this presentation is directed towards design professionals, the same advice is applicable to building product sales representatives.


Guide Specifications

This is an encore of an article Michael Chusid wrote over 20 years ago. Since then, an increased percentage of guide specifications have been written in accordance with CSI formats and principals, and there are now large, online databases of proprietary specification guide specs. Guide specs remain an important part of your sales collateral.

One of the most useful pieces of product literature an architect can receive from a building product manufacturer is a well written guide specification for the product. Along with product data sheets and suggested details, guide specifications can simplify the process of evaluating a product and incorporating it into a project's construction documents.
Proprietary guide specifications fill a need not satisfied by commercially available master guide specifications such as Spectext or MasterSpec or by an architectural firm's in-house master specification. While these standard references are sufficient for most projects, they do not always provide an adequate basis for specifying a particular manufacturer's product. Some master guide specifications try to generalize about products manufactured by several suppliers, requiring only the lowest common denominator of features and performance. In the process, they become "generications" instead of "specifications." Furthermore, there are far more products available than can be included in even the most comprehensive master guide specification, and new products are introduced faster than master guide specifications can be up-dated.


"Excellence in Construction Information" Awards Won By Two Chusid Associates Clients

Two clients of Chusid Associates have won this year's Excellence in Construction Information Awards, jointly sponsored by CSI and Specification Consultants in Independent Practice (SCIP). Ceilings Plus was recognized for its Idea Box, an innovative presentation of product data and samples. American Decorative Concrete Supply Company (ADC) was awarded for their sales collateral and product documentation. The EICI Award was created to recognize excellence, originality or creativity in processes, tools, or documents used in development or construction of the built environment.

Michael Chusid accepts awards for two clients during 2011 CSI Convention.
ADC embarked on an extended communications project in 2010, revamping all their product literature to make it more useful to architects and specifiers and well as contractors and concrete artists. The campaign includes sales sheets, technical data sheets, and guide specifications, as well as a redesign of their website. Their new technical data sheets follow Construction Specifications Canada ProductFormat, currently the only published standard for building product data sheets. All the pieces were designed and coordinated for greater consistency of information, more consistent branding, and better accessibility of data. All of the sales collateral recognized by the award was created by Chusid Associates.

Ceilings Plus produced a highly innovative way to present their product data and samples. The Idea Box is a formed aluminum box decorated by precision perforation, made in the Ceilings Plus factory. Inside it are elaborate samples of the company's finishes and forming abilities, as well as the Idea Pad, a handbook-sized product catalog full of surprises. The cover of the Idea Pad is a steel sheet with magnetized sample-chips of wood and metal finishes on it. The chips are cut into unusual geometric shapes that can be arranged in patterns including complex tessellations, inviting architects to play with designs and turn loose their imaginations.  The book includes not only product and company information, but suggested tessellation patterns, luscious project shots, and space to sketch designs. The Idea Box and its contents were conceived and designed by Chusid Associates, with art direction by Vladimir Paperny and copy by Michael Chusid.

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

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