The Beauty of the Attic Truss

Recently a project came across our desk that was an unusual attic design. The architect had drawn in an attic condition that “stepped up and over the floor joists at one end of the building. In other words, the attic truss had no bottom chord!


The design was 2 mono trusses “sistered” together at a ridge girder over the attic space. The mono truss had to step up and over the depth of the floor joists that were weaved in between the roof trusses.


While the design at the end walls was fairly simple to accomplish, as the trusses tied back in the adjoining planes, it presented some challenges. As the ceiling condition transitioned, some of the trusses had to rest on the top chord of a girder and others had to hang into the bottom chord…of the same girder!


The girder itself had to leg down. Yuck!


At the other end of the building, the plan called for the floor depth being built into the dual-pitch attic truss.


The fun part was that the ceiling condition of the slope up to the attic ceiling height was to remain consistent throughout the entire building!


Sometimes, these attic design can be head-scratchers. On this particular design, the architect did a fabulous job anticipating everything and it all worked out beautifully. Ah yes, the beauty of the attic truss!

What types of unusual attic designs have you seen in your travels?

Feel free to submit your guest blog article to We would be honored to share it with our readers!


Dr. Henry Cloud writes, in his book Integrity that integrity is “the courage to meet the demands of reality”. He expands on this further and defines character as the ability to:

  1. Establish and maintain trust
  2. See and face reality (oriented towards truth)
  3. Work in a way that brings results
  4. Embrace negative realities and solves them
  5. Cause growth and increase
  6. Achieve transcendence and meaning in life

Dr. Cloud argues that these characteristics must be functioning in order to fully utilize our gifts, talents, and abilities.

The starting point is to recognize and understand that everyone has deficiencies. No one is immune—not even that high performer that you are idolizing on LinkedIn, or whose books you pre-order. They too must work through their deficiencies to be that high performer. Most likely, it’s because they’ve put in this kind of behind the scenes effort that has propelled them to success.

How might they have done this?

Establishing and Maintaining Trust

This means that we will connect at an empathetic level. This goes beyond “win-win” in that I am saying I will continue to work towards your good, even if you don’t work towards mine. That doesn’t mean I will allow you to work against me unchecked, but it does mean that I will continue to work towards your welfare and growth as well.

See and Face reality

Dr. Cloud speaks about this in terms of how we orient ourselves, what we face. Picture the child who covers his head with his blanket because he’s afraid of the dark. He is deceiving himself on several levels, not least of which is the fact that he is creating a false reality, one that only exists in his head. He is not being truthful to himself about his fears or about the room around him. Only by opening his eyes, pulling his head from under the blanket, and staring into the dark corners of the room will he be able to conquer his fears… or else deal with the monster in the closet.

He also speaks about it in terms of a pursuit. We orient and then seek the truth about ourselves, others, and the world we live in. Do we seek the truth about ourselves? Do we want those things to be revealed for others to see? Think about how hard it is to admit that we made a mistake, that we don’t live up to someone else’s expectations. We don’t want the “truth” about us to be seen. We don’t want to “lose” the perception people have of us. Ironically, the value we would gain by admitting our faults would far outweigh any negative opinions that some might have of us at the time. This is another way that we don’t face reality.

If we are pursuing success, then we must face reality and embrace it. Success won’t be found under the blanket.

Work In A Way That Brings Results

It is often said (and I’ve said) that you can train skills, you can’t train character. This is actually more nuanced. You can’t train the character of those who don’t want to grow—they have to want it in order for it to work. Success is found not only in acquiring skills but by becoming the kind of person that can be successful and not fall apart under its demands.

This goes beyond hard work, but in being prepared, using resources effectively and efficiently (one way to do this is to say “no” often), the ability to execute plans, make difficult decisions, etc. This is done with the persistence to see it through and the ability to move easily past mistakes after absorbing their lessons.

Embrace the Negative

This is a hard one. Whether it’s that tough client, employee, boss, or circumstances we tend to avoid conflict and avoid pain. The immature person will use failure or a situation that negatively impacts them and deflect the blame to others. Embracing the negative means that we actively engage with and resolve whatever the problem is, instead of ignoring it or trying to make it someone else’s problem.

Cause Growth and Increase

One evidence of sound character is your growth and the things and people around you growing. This doesn’t mean that you don’t take risks. Growth is tied to risk. A farmer planting a field is taking a risk, the manufacturer building 100,000 widgets is taking a risk. But, without taking the risk, the reward (growth) is not possible. We should differentiate this from gambling.

Growth is best created by a disciplined approach. E.g. that farmer carefully considered the crops he would plant, how well they would grow in his geographic location, the time to plant, whether the conditions were favorable, and he worked tirelessly to maintain the field, and cultivate the crop as it grew towards harvest. If he didn’t do any of those things but didn’t have the discipline to see things out, the crop would have failed.

Achieve Transcendence and Meaning in Life

This could mean different things to different people. Dr. Cloud’s perspective is that this an overarching reality that informs how you move in the world. It’s ultimately about serving a purpose higher than our own.  It’s to see other people beyond how they might serve me, but how I might serve them.

At GDI, Inc. we are constantly reading and looking for ways that we might grow. This particular book will be re-read many times. It hurt at times but that was the point? I hope for you, the reader, much growth as you consider this summary of the book, and I would encourage you to pick up a copy sometime. Feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts.

Tim Hoke – Design Manager / Sales

Gould Design Inc.

Gable End Sheathing in MiTek

Are you aware that the MiTek software will allow you to sheath your gables in the software? Are you using this tool? Consider the value it could provide to your customer if you could provide this as an option on your quote sheet. Here are a few tips to consider about the sheathing feature.

Sheathing is most common in the application where it covers the entire gable face. Yet, there are jobs where this is not necessary. To ensure proper application, you will need to take a few extra steps.

Dimensions for Sheathing Placement

When designing partially sheathed gables where the sheathing is raised from the bottom chord, always add a vertical dimension from the bottom edge of the truss to the bottom of the sheathing. MiTek provides notes on the shop drawings that describe where the sheathing gets applied EXCEPT for this case where the sheathing is held up from the bottom chord.

  1. To add the vertical dimensions to the sheathing, you will need to add a horizontal reference line in Versa-Truss to represent the bottom limit of your sheathing.


  1. Then use the “add dimension” tool in Versa-Truss to add the vertical dimension.


Doing so will ensure your shop has the proper placement. After all, what is the point of a value-added feature for your client unless it is correct? Take the extra time to ensure your shop personnel can accurately apply the sheathing.

Ask your customer if this is something they want. I think you will be amazed when they say “I didn’t know you could do that!” After all, the application is happening anyway, why not do something to distinguish yourself from the competition?

Remember: It’s the little things that add the value for repeat sales!

Gould Design, Inc. Administration

Rose Bud Thorn

Last summer, I was honored to attend a Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project (JWRP) trip to Israel.  Our local group hosted 12 moms for this life changing experience. As part of our trip, we attend monthly follow-up meetings. These meetings are designed to continue our learning and inspiration to refine our souls to become better people.  In our faith, we are taught that the purpose of life is to refine our soul, our connection to G-d, and to provide mitzvots, or loosely translated, into good deeds.

I was introduced to a simple yet powerful activity. Many families use this during dinner to encourage deep meaningful conversations, (DMC). In this activity, each family member will discuss their day using the three concepts “Rose Bud Thorn.“



First, we will discuss the “Rose” part. But what is a rose?  Close your eyes and what image comes to your mind. For me, a rose is a beautiful flower whose smell is full of warm and comforting scents. The “Rose” is the highlight of your day.

Was it the time that the teacher showcased your social studies project on the power of a smile to a random stranger’s day? Or was it when you were driving in the rain and witnessed a stranger stop and give an umbrella to a pedestrian?  Or was it the time that you were able to enjoy your favorite cup of coffee without an interruption?


The “bud” is the part of the day/week that you are looking forward to experiencing. Are you looking forward to celebrating your birthday? Are you getting excited for that special weekend getaway for couples?


The “thorn” part of the DMC explains the area of your day in where you can improve or change your behavior. What went wrong? Was it when you yelled because your children spilled the milk again on the kitchen floor (for the second time in less than 5 minutes)?  Or when the phone rang again interrupting that special time with your spouse?

I am always looking for different, unique and exciting ways to improve the communication techniques that are used in our family and in our home. Our children range from 7 to 15, so I feel that this dinner time pastime is suitable for all ages. I’m interested to hear and listen to my family’s answers.  This activity is a great way to reflect on our own individual behavior. The more we focus on gratitude and appreciate what we have; I feel we are going to be a happier person.

It’s always better to focus on the positive versus the negative aspects of your life.

Another idea is to implement a gratitude journal. Write down three items that you are grateful for being in your life each and every day.

I would hear if this conversation starter has worked for your family, workplace, youth group, or social gathering.

What other conversation starters have you used?

Naida Gould – Owner

Gould Design, Inc.

Truss Design: Doing the Impossible

As truss designers, we are fortunate to have built into our job description constant mental stimulation. Our job is really about putting “pieces of the puzzle” together and “making everything fit”. Sometimes we run into design project assignments that cover all 3 aspects I have just mentioned. This article is about one such project.


This particular assignment is one of those that have just about every condition you can think of in it. It would have helped if the building designer would have taken the time to figure out how to support all of these unusual conditions, but, thankfully, he left that up to me. This job was so mentally stimulating that I found it hard to walk away from it when it was time to go home.

I won’t take space to relate all of the details of the project; rather I want to focus on 2 particular conditions that a truss designer just does not see every day and hopefully inspire some creativity for when you run into something like this in the future.

Radius Wall Framing

As you can see, this project has a radius tower at the entry. The problem is, below this tower is totally open to below and no bearing is available to support it. In fact, in the first draft of the architectural plans, the radius was pushed back 7’ from where it is now, making it impossible to support. This is what I came up with to solve the problem.


To say this was fun is an understatement. It took a great deal of thought and careful mathematics to even consider this type of solution. It requires trusses on 2 different levels to transfer loads down to the foundation in order to support this 19’9” radius tower.


Upper Loft Framing

This project also had another fun challenge to overcome. There is a sloping flat roof that connects to an upper loft balcony overlook that is open to below.


In order to access this loft, some imagination had to be used, as the ceiling height over the stairway was on a plane sloping down. I ran some butt-cut, tail-bearing monos that bear directly on top of monos at the level below at one end and hang into a sloping flat girder at the other end.  Fun!

In addition, the sloping roof had to be turned and supported by the loft beam to avoid having to place loads down to a beam in the floor system that barely worked carrying only wall, jacks and floor loads.


What types of creative design have you run into recently? How did you “Do the Impossible”

Designers Wanted



If you have ever wanted to start your own business and work from home, GDI presents a unique opportunity to do just that. Below, I have co-opted a blog post I wrote last year to provide a sense of what GDI, INC looks for in those we partner with and how to assess yourself to see if you would be a good fit.

GDI, INC is looking for designers who are self-starters, and eager to operate their own business. We have the clients, agreements, and the workflow. You control your schedule, pace, etc. While many are dissuaded by the lack of a “steady” paycheck or a fixed hourly rate, I would present this as an opportunity rather than an obstacle. As a contractor, your earning potential will be directly related to your performance.

One thing before I continue. Fundamentally, GDI, INC is about being in business with integrity. We don’t cut corners. We don’t knowingly do things wrong and then send it in regardless. We respond to mistakes with humility, make restitution, and learn from them. We are in business so, yes, we are about making money, but not to the exclusion of our integrity. GDI, INC is a company operated by folks of integrity and so we expect integrity of people that we partner with.

If you are interested in providing us with remote design services, contact me after you finish reading this article.

So, let’s face it, this is the age of the entrepreneur. If you are considering a move to remote truss design work start with this article before making the move.  We are going to look at the essential characteristics to help you succeed and reach your goals:

  • Humility
  • Effectiveness and Efficiency
  • Discipline
  • Ownership
  • Communication



Want to succeed at any vocation? Be humble. This goes hand in hand with all the other traits and forms a kind of feedback loop that allows you to gauge where you are, honestly, and where course correction needs to occur.

Humility is a frame of mind which governs how we conduct ourselves, how we respond to criticism, and how we criticize others. It allows us to see our own weakness and then take steps towards growth.

How do you improve humility? One way is to become a beginner at something, where you rely on others to teach you, and where you place yourself in a position to receive criticism. Humility is always hungry to learn.

Some ideas:

  • Volunteer with a charity
  • Take music lessons
  • Take a martial arts class
  • Ask your kids to teach you something (huge for them and you!)

Humility and humor share the same root. Being able to laugh at yourself is the key to humility. Don’t be so serious that you can’t see the humor in your foibles. See them, laugh at them, and move on!

Effective and Efficient

These two are so interconnected that I will discuss them together. Tim Ferriss has a useful definition that I’ve adopted. Being effective is doing the right things, being efficient is doing those things right.

To succeed at remote truss design, we need to determine the right things to do, then we need to determine the most efficient ways to accomplish them. Doing the wrong things efficiently does not provide value. It’s still doing the wrong things.

Recently I had the opportunity to shadow my boss as he posted a blog and reviewed his social media content for the business.

He follows a sequence that he does every day, quickly moving from task to task, and he had it wrapped up in a half hour (it was that long cause he was showing me things as he went).

He posted a blog article, wrote notes to connections on LinkedIn, reviewed groups that he manages, added new connections, accepted invitations, shared an article or two that he thought would be useful, all this within a short span of time.

As I reflected on this I thought of how ineffective (not identifying and doing the right things) my social media time was. As distracting as social media can be, he found a way to navigate it through a series of tasks to be performed, completed those tasks, and moved on to the next thing on his plate while staying true to his goal to provide value to others.

That kind of approach is important as a freelancer because you aren’t often paid by the hour, but rather on a job by job basis. A job that I bill out at $200.00 will be that regardless if I spent 2 or 20 hours doing it. Succeeding at remote design then is directly related to being as effective and efficient as possible.

Now, whenever I hear someone complaining about not having enough time I wonder if they really don’t have enough time, or if they are doing the wrong things with their time. If time is a currency, then what you spend it on is more important than how much you have.

How can you become more effective?

  • Make a list of your top priorities
  • Make a list of things that you do in a day/week/month/year. Determine if those things are aligned with your priorities.
  • Ruthlessly deal with the non-priority things that you find yourself doing. Schedule them out of your time, or schedule them in where they don’t interfere with your work (e.g. check social media at lunchtime or at the end of the day, don’t allow that to enter into your work-time).

How can you become more efficient?

  • Stay up on developments in your field and the tools you use. Keep educating yourself.
  • Find ways to reduce “clicks” of the mouse, or taps on the keyboard. E.g. shortcuts to eliminate using the ribbon and drop down menus.
  • Automate as much as you can. E.g. set up a labeling scheme so that you have very minimal manual labeling to do.
  • Is there a menu default that doesn’t match up with what you need 99% of the time? Look into settings to change the defaults. Now you only change it for the 1% of the outlier situations.
  • Give yourself time limits and goals for completing a job. This can add a sense of urgency and focus on the task at hand. E.g. aim to have a job done by 3 pm so you can spend time with your kids when they get home from school.



Like we talked about, Freelancing is the dream. You have leeway in setting your schedule, the frequency of work, what work you accept, etc. But, is it the freedom that everyone craves?

Not without discipline. Without discipline, being a freelancer will be torturous. Deadlines won’t be met, money will be tight, everyone at your house will hate you because you are stressed out.

Discipline is that inner voice, yours (I hope!), telling you what to do and then obeying it.

How do you improve your discipline?

  • Start the day with a simple goal and follow through with it. E.g. set your alarm and get up when it goes off!
  • Continue through the day with goals that you set ahead of yourself and execute.
  • Decision fatigue will give way to discipline. Discipline in one area begets discipline in other areas.
  • Don’t put it off! Take little steps now!


Is it possible to “own” something that you don’t truly own? Absolutely. When you take on the mindset of treating a company or a job as if your own interests are at stake you will enter into an ownership mindset.

Personally, I have been both an employee and an employer. I know what it is like on both sides and so whatever hat I happen to be wearing the “flip side” has informed how I operate.

Whether as an owner, employee, or freelancer it is important to view the success or failure of your employer or clients as your own. Taking ownership means owning the failures and owning the solutions to the problems that you encounter and not putting them off on others.

What does this mindset look like? Here are some examples:

  • Bill your client as if you were paying the bill. That changes things, doesn’t it? Adding in padding that shouldn’t be there only hurts your client and could even end your work relationship. Think about how you would respond to an invoice that was higher than expected or reasonable.
  • Treat omissions as opportunities. When you realize that you missed something in your work, don’t ignore or hide it. Take it to your client. Say, “Hey, I did this work and in reviewing it later I see I missed X, Y, Z. What can I do to make this right?” They may not be happy, but this would at least give them the opportunity to correct the issues. Ultimately, I think they would respect you more and it would increase rather than detract from your credibility.
  • If a project fails don’t blame others. Blame yourself and learn from your mistakes. If someone under you fails, don’t blame them, blame yourself for not giving them the direction they need. Then take it upon yourself to train them up to avoid those mistakes in the future.
  • Ownership is all encompassing. It is saying “the buck stops here” even if your title doesn’t say “CEO” or “President”. That doesn’t mean you park in the CEO’s parking spot. If you do, you didn’t get that advice from me!

Let me answer one objection. It would run along the lines of, “But, if I take ownership of mine and other people’s mistakes, I’m going to be sacked” or “I’m going to lose clients!”

If you lose your job because you took responsibility, then the company wasn’t worth working for and you are better off. No. What happens when people take responsibility for mistakes and who work to grow and learn from them all the while creating solutions? They are given more responsibility. What is responsibility? You guessed it: “Ownership”.


We have had many good blog articles on communication that you can find here and here and here that I will refer you to for review if you want to go into greater depth on this topic. Here are the basics.

It is important to remember that our communication is with people, not robots. People have thoughts, feelings, stresses, and tensions in their life… all of which affect their communication.

Working remotely requires the right balance of communication, but it is better to err on too much to start, and dial it down, rather than not enough.

Here are some ways to improve communication:

  • Determine how to communicate on a person by person basis. What method (phone, email, texting, or another messaging tool) and what style (personal, formal, chatty, to the point, etc.).
  • Follow up vital information provided over the phone with an email summarizing that information. Get your client to confirm.
  • Ask questions. If you think they will make you look stupid, just think about how stupid you will look if you provide a product that is wrong… all because you didn’t ask. Ask questions!

Remember that communication is more about building relationships than just gathering information.


We hope this gets you thinking about what it will take to succeed at remote truss design or whatever it is you have set as a goal. What thoughts do you have on what it takes to succeed? Let us know in the comments below!

Tim Hoke – Design Manager / Sales – – 276-492-8020

Gould Design, INC

There Is An “I” In Team

We are all familiar with the old adage “There is no “I” in team”, right? Well, it might be time to give that conclusion a second look. Seems that times-are-a-changing! In order be successful, we will need to change with the times or get left behind.


Here at Gould Design, Inc., we like to use an acronym for “TEAM” that some of you may be familiar with:





This acronym says pretty plainly how important unity is to success, does it not? Yet in our day and age, things have changed. We live in an age where there is more instant gratification than ever before (text messages, email, etc.) and somehow we have become addicted to it. Think about it. How many times do you check your phone an hour? A day? Do you ever turn it off for an entire day? You probably just checked it right now!

In a team, even that “space” in the picture referenced above has its place. How? One word: Perspective. Sometimes we can learn the most, not from those that agree with us, but those that don’t!

Even an @$$hole has its place and time. Everyone adapts this trait from one time to another. Or at the very least, we certainly know someone who resembles one, right? At the end of the day, there is only One who can judge, our job is to find a spot on the team for that “space.”

What’s the point?

When we can persist with the perspective of an open mind, sometimes our worst enemies can be our best teachers. As one wise man once said, “I would never have understood success had I not failed first.” Another said, “Success is failure turned inside out.” After all, a man I am sure everyone has heard of named Walt Disney filed bankruptcy multiple times until he found success. Yet, he persisted. Click here to review some other famous and successful people who also has a similar path to success.

When a business-minded person can use the invaluable tool of empathy to try to really understand the other person’s point of view, success occurs. Learning is the natural result. When we truly have the best interest of the “TEAM” at heart, we will take the time to listen to those willing to share their opinion, success occurs.

I would like to introduce another acronym for you to ponder:





Empowering &



If you can find a way to make that “space” fit in your team, you will benefit more than you can imagine. What have you got to lose besides becoming that “space”? Give yourself a chance to find out!

Gould Design, Inc. Administration

Continuing Education: A Cost or an Investment?

I was privileged to attend a Virginia Tech continuing education course titled “Introduction to Structural Design of Wood Buildings per the 2015 NDS”. The course instructors included the legendary Frank Woeste P.E. Ph.D., John “Buddy” Showalter P.E., and Joe Loferski Ph.D.

In later blog posts, I’ll touch on some of the topics covered during the three-day course as well as introduce some of the resources that are available to those involved in the building industry for those who may be unfamiliar with them. Today, however, I want to answer the question posed above.

The Cost

For truss design, there aren’t any “truss designer” continuing education requirements from outside governing bodies. This is primarily because responsibility for overall building design doesn’t fall on the truss designer. So, why attend? Isn’t that just a waste of time and money? Wouldn’t it be better to focus on delivering a quality service to our clients? Consider that we incurred direct expenses (the course cost, hotel, food, travel, etc.) Indirectly, the staff at Gould Design, INC. had to cover for me while I was out of the office for three very busy days. In short, one way to look at this course is its cost. Was it worth it?

The answer will differ depending on perspective. A pure accounting perspective would attempt to measure the cost and project a return. However, a return on education is difficult to measure and the return on investment (ROI) may look different depending on the individual.

Investing for the Future

To invest is to enter into a long-term mindset. We have accepted the use of time and other resources now (the cost we talked about earlier) in the hope that the short-term sacrifice will benefit the organization in the future. Education supplies us where we were deficient and equips us for the complex challenges we may face as we apply our new found knowledge and skills in our work.

Not only does the individual who received the education grow, but he or she can then take what they have learned and teach others. This magnifies the impact of that initial investment.

Without this long-term mindset, an organization will stagnate and loses its ability to compete with other companies that are investing in their people.

Fortunately for me, Gould Design Inc. has and will continue to invest in its employees which in turn is an investment for the future growth of GDI, INC.

Tim Hoke – Design Manager / Sales

Gould Design Inc.

Look for more posts regarding this course in the weeks to come!


The 7 “H’s” of Words and Their Power


Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble. – Yehuda Berg

Have you ever stopped to consider why you have 2 ears and one mouth? How much time do you spend talking instead of listening? Why do we, as humans, think that words are harmless? The fact is, words are more powerful than we admit. As the opening quote relates, words can either harm or heal.


There is a brilliant author named Joseph Telushkin who has written an incredible book called Words that Hurt, Words that Heal: How to Use Words Wisely and Well. I cannot possibly add to his brilliance and eloquence in that masterpiece of literature, so I will simplify the teaching for those that wish to read on.


Words that improve something or someone.


Words that correct something.


Words that prevent something positive.


Words that diminish something or someone.


Words that inflict pain on something or someone.


Words that embarrass something or someone.


Words that enhance something or someone.

Think back to one your own most painful event in life. Was it words? Do yourself a favor and choose them carefully.


Gould Design, Inc. Administration

Bidding Practices that are Just Good Enough Can Cost Tens of Thousands in Additional Net Profit


Two very distinct aspects of the bidding calculation could be costing your company tens of thousands of dollars. If you were shown a better bidding method, would you allow your pride to prevent you from testing it and, if it works, taking the time to embrace it to improve your company’s bottom line? It is all too often stated, “This is the way we have been doing it for decades, and it is good enough.” Good enough bidding practices may be costing you tens of thousands of dollars in additional net profit.


Your manufacturing has a finite amount of total production time, and the old saying that time is money has never been so true. Net profit is derived using the total gross margin (GM) rather than total sales, so make sure the bids that your company is winning are providing the greatest GM dollars for the least amount of time possible. (Sales Price – Material and Labor Cost = GM)

Time is money, and the labor estimation in the bidding calculation is far more important than just accounting for the labor cost. Too many managers say, “Our labor estimation is good enough because our labor costs average out pretty well.” Instead of spending the time to make the labor time estimation generated by the truss program accurate on the individual order level, most managers believe using monthly averages is good enough. Most CMs have only made small changes to their dollar per unit labor estimation and simply ignored complex individual time factors.


Most companies have about a dozen labor factors in the labor estimation configuration setup that are supposed to adjust for every condition. This is not enough! When you’re serious about understanding the results of your current labor estimation practices, use a spreadsheet to review the actual versus estimated labor time over a given month for each of the individual orders. (Labor time, not labor cost!) Most are quite shocked by how poor their labor estimation is at the individual order level, let alone the individual truss cutting and assembly time.

Too many falsely believe that they can use recordings of historical order labor time to develop their own time standards, which is a flawed method by industrial engineering standards for many reasons. Instead, why not plug proven time standards into your truss labor estimation programs? There are over 120 different factors to choose from based on equipment and material. TDC’s are accurate down to the truss build and cutting activity level. (


Just because your competition’s pricing may make it seem like they are a bunch of monkeys throwing darts at a wall, this does not mean you cannot improve your bidding methods. It is very simple and can be proven using a spreadsheet and past orders’ actual labor times versus their true GMs. The key to garnering better profits is to win the bids that have higher GMs per man-hour instead of a cost markup.

Each order that you manufacture is essentially renting your company’s production time with GM dollars. Some orders provide greater GMs per man-hour than others. However, most are clueless about this concept because they do not track each order’s actual labor time, let alone on a GM per man-hour basis. Too many are satisfied with monthly averages without ever knowing that some orders are consuming far too many man-hours for the amount of GM dollars earned. These high labor orders with low material cost drastically reduce the total GM for any time period when the cost markup method is used. It is far better to use this simple GM formula:


Yes, I understand that cost markup has been used for decades, but it is a seriously flawed method. Every time people test the GM per man-hours against a cost markup to establish a baseline for the sales price, GM per man-hours wins hands down every time, no exceptions. For more about this proven bidding method, contact me for a spreadsheet that proves this concept. All who have embraced it swear that it has garnered tens of thousands of dollars in additional net profits.

Now that you understand why accurate time standards are so important, you should find that the purchase price for TDC’s time standards is far cheaper than the flawed methods of trying to derive your own based on historical data or trial and error. TDC’s time standards can easily be proven in the manufacturing area and then quickly applied in the bidding process after confirmation. It works great with MiTek MVP®.

To summarize, one needs to accurately estimate the labor time for each order and then use it as a baseline to establish the minimum gross margin. Once you pay attention to expected GM per man-hour, it is very easy to understand why it makes perfect sense to lower the GM when your company is only experiencing spare capacity. Your company will begin to earn tens of thousands of dollars in additional net profits using this proven bidding method.

Todd Drummond Consulting, 90+ Consultations, 25+ Years in the Truss Industry and 10+ Years in the Consultation Business. The most comprehensive and refined consulting service in the component industry. No one is better than TDC to provide your company with proven results. See the many testimonials on my website.


Todd Drummond Consulting, LLC