Why Do We Charge a Setup Fee?


It is not unusual for the initial contact with a prospective client to be going well until I mention that we charge a $2,500.00 setup fee. I typically find the conversation turns cold or the prospect asks how we can justify the fee. The question is certainly valid and I’ll take a stab at answering it here.

Sales

Recouping some of the cost of sales is one factor. It is common for our salesman to spend 5-10 hours speaking and corresponding with a prospective client prior to any agreement being in place.  The setup fee helps us recoup that effort.

Setup Time

While truss companies are—in general—similar, they are not the same. A significant amount of time is spent creating, revising, and finalizing the Design Criteria used by GDI’s design team as well as put together other related documentation, phone calls and correspondence with the component manufacturer, running test jobs, checking and verifying settings with the client, etc. There could be 10-20 hours in setup time.

Training Time

Our designers work with multiple customers who each have their own unique Design Criteria and processes. It is very important to train them on all new accounts and training takes time. Training could take 10-20 hours depending on how many designers and how unique or difficult the client’s Design Criteria is.

Asking for Buy-In Creates a Filter

Yes, we are looking for buy-in from our clients. It is not uncommon to put all the effort into getting a client setup, designers trained for the account, and then sit idly waiting for them to send work… which never comes. What was the problem? The problem was that the prospective client wasn’t looking for a partnership, they were looking for an insurance policy… somewhere they could send work in an emergency. We are not an emergency service. However, for established clients who have an established and consistent workflow, we will be there for them when they have those emergencies!

We’ve learned over time that if we want to attract the ideal client, then we need to see who is willing to buy into the idea as well as our service. The setup fee helps deter clients we don’t want, which helps us focus on the clients we do!

Vetting Goes Both Ways

It is common for the customer to have a process for vetting everyone who works for them, including offsite design services like ours, what isn’t always understood, is that we have a vetting process as well. Not every sale is equal. Some businesses cost more to work with than others. Our goal is to find out who we can deliver exceptional design services to, be considered partners in that businesses growth, and have a mutually beneficial relationship.

A Small Price

Any prudent manager will count the cost before investing thousands of dollars. The potential upside for component manufacturers in using an offsite design service like ours is can’t be ignored; a multiplying of their design capacity without the cost of hiring a recruiter, candidate vetting by senior management, training, payroll costs, and insurance!

Considered this way, I think component manufacturers will see it is a small price to pay for an experienced partner in fulfilling their truss design needs! Follow the link below if you want to look at starting an account with GDI!

Tim Hoke

General Manager – Gould Design, Inc.

 

If interested in starting an account with us go HERE

If you would like to apply for a contractor design position go HERE

Client Partnership


Here at GDI, INC we not only act as an offsite design team for our clients, but we are actively partnering with our clients to grow their business. I would like to write a few words on the difference.

Partnership Defined

A partnership is two or more people or groups of people that join in a common effort. Their goals, efforts, and interests are aligned.

Henry Cloud in his book Integrity discusses how work, negotiations, relationships all work better when we trust one another.

Cloud describes three stances of “trust”. The first is paranoia, someone who is surrounded by others who can’t let down his guard. Someone is going to stab them in the back, they are sure of it.

The second is the quid pro quo approach. If you are good to me, I’ll be good to you. If you perform for me, I’ll perform for you. However, if you don’t perform, I will stop performing. If you are not good to me, I will not be good to you. This seems “fair”. However, the relationship is on thin ice. It may survive a few falls, but too many, and both parties are out of there. There is also a level of antagonism acting as an undercurrent to the relationship.

The third is what Cloud describes as “true trust”. True trust means that my goodness, kindness, and performance are not tied in anyway to your goodness, kindness, or performance. Regardless of how I am treated I will still act towards you in the same way. This doesn’t mean we tolerate caustic and harmful situations and allow them to continue. But, while addressing the harmful actions or lack of performance of the other party, I will continue to work towards their best interests even if they are not currently working towards mine.

Feedback

The importance of true and honest feedback between us and our clients is imperative to a successful partnership. Though we are for our clients, we at times make mistakes. We at times do not perform to the standards that they want. What will happen? Some clients are in the first stance of paranoia, their fears have proved true, and they sever the relationship.

Other clients fall into the second stance. They may be more patient, but they basically tell us to stop making mistakes and that is it.

Our best clients are those that are for us, who are proactive with feedback, who help us understand our mistakes, and help us perform better. These are the clients that are reaping the benefits of a prolonged relationship of true trust. Where both we and they know that we are working towards the others best interest.

What about you? Do you see the approach of “true trust” benefiting you in your business and relationships? Let us know in the comments below.

Tim Hoke

Design Manager / Sales – Gould Design, Inc.

 

If interested in starting an account with us go HERE

 

If you would like to apply for a contractor design position go HERE

Book Review: RE-WORK


I’ve been reading Jason Fried’s writings for over a year now. He is the Co-founder and CEO of Basecamp. Not only has he written best selling books, he is also a prolific writer and speaker (Signals vs. Noise, Medium, Inc., TED talks, etc.). I’ve listened to David Heinemeier Hansson interviewed by Tim Ferriss. He is the Co-founder and CTO of Basecamp, creator of Ruby-on-Rails.

After reading reviews about their book “Re-work” I finally decided that I needed to dig into this book myself.

Re-work

Let’s get one question out of the way: what does a couple of tech guys have to say to those of us in the building industry? The answer is a lot. While the tools and techniques used in tech may be different, what is not different are the people we work with and the business practices employed to do our work. What they have to say about business applies just as well to the foodservice industry, manufacturing, and yes, to the building industry.

RE-WORK: Breakdown

Re-work is broken down into twelve sections with short parts that are no more than two pages each.

The beauty of this is that I could read as little or as much in a day as I wanted and be able to “finish” with a part. If I wanted to chew on a particular part I just re-read it throughout the day.

The overall tone of the book is like one of the Old Testament prophets who would stand up and challenge the norms, common practices, and status quo of their culture. Jason and David challenge many norms in business. Here are a few:

  • Why 50-60-70 hour work weeks?
  • Say “No”.
  • Meetings are toxic.
  • Don’t avoid decisions. Make small decisions. Adjust. Small decisions keep the momentum going.
  • Interruptions kill productivity (which is part of why we “need” 50-60-70 hour work weeks).
  • Focus your efforts on what won’t change, don’t chase fads.
  • Don’t be all things to all people. Let customers outgrow you.
  • Don’t be a hero.
  • Sleep.
  • Do it yourself first.
  • Hire when it Hurts.
  • Hire managers of One.
  • Own your bad news (no apologies like, “I’m sorry you were offended”).
  • You don’t create culture.
  • ASAP is poison.

I did not walk away after reading this book wondering what the authors meant. It is right there and it challenges how I view business. Go get the book, I promise you won’t regret it!

RE-WORK: Application

What’s the point? The authors challenge the prevailing notions about business and offer alternatives. They incite us to ask “Why” about our practices and ideas. The value of the book is what we do with it after reading it. Keep asking why. Keep challenging the norms of your business.

Some examples:

Our customers want us to offer service “X”. Do we do it? Will this detract or enhance our bread and butter services? Will it stretch our manpower beyond capacity?

A customer asks for a project that we know we don’t have the capacity for. Do we say yes? If we say “Yes”, what will the effect be? Since we don’t have the capacity it will require overtime, all-nighters, etc. What is produced will not be of the highest quality, and because we don’t really have time for it, it will probably be submitted after the date the customer requested. When seen this way, saying “No” becomes not only more appealing but essential for survival. The customer, though they don’t like to hear “No” will at least respect the fact that you only want to deliver a quality product, on-time, rather than try to be a hero and produce a mediocre product late.

Consistently working over-time, a common temptation for me, skews the “numbers”. I may feel like I get a lot done, but if I’m not looking at the quality of those hours, I may not be as productive as I think. How many of the hours “worked” are really filled with distractions, interruptions, poor prioritization, etc.?

Working over-time feeds the ego. It is my way of telling myself I’m indispensable and the hero. What it might mean, however, is that I’m lazy. I’m too lazy to figure out which tasks are important and which are not. I’m afraid to say no and not be the “hero”. Placing limitations on my time forces me to prioritize what I do next and maybe as important, what I don’t do at all.

Do we value those we work with? Or are they just a means to an end? This is an important question as the effects will be far-reaching, touching decisions about hiring, remuneration, time off, capacity, expectations (explicit and implied)… everything!

Conclusion

We got a lot out of this book and will be applying its lessons for many years to come. We hope you learned enough about it to make a choice as to whether to get your own copy. We should note that we are not receiving a kickback for writing this post. We truly hope you find this useful!

Tim Hoke
Design Manager / Sales – Gould Design, Inc.

To start the account setup process go HERE

To apply for a design position go HERE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Resource Advantage


Last April I had the privilege to attend a Virginia Tech continuing education course titled “Introduction to Structural Design of Wood Buildings per the 2015 NDS” (I wrote about it briefly here). The course instructors included Frank Woeste P.E. Ph.D., John “Buddy” Showalter P.E., and Joe Loferski Ph.D. This year there is another course titled “Structural Design Topics in Wood Construction”. I encourage those involved in the design and construction of wood structures to consider attending.

RESOURCES

One thing that was impressed upon me last year is the availability of resources—often times at no cost to those in the industry. Consider the International Building Codes with free public access.

Another resource that has become invaluable to me is the American Wood Council. They provide a significant amount of publications, calculators/software, position papers, online courses, prior webinars available to listen to again, and new webinars that even offer Continuing Education credits.

STAGNATION

Stagnation occurs when we stop growing. When I think of stagnation, I think of a pond that receives very little fresh water and has no real outlet. Let’s just say that it is not an idyllic place to swim on your summer vacation. Stagnation occurs when there is nothing new entering and nothing being poured out.

As people we are the same way. We will die inside if we are not learning and then applying what we have learned in our daily lives.

ARE YOU GROWING?

For anyone, continuing education should be the pursuit of every individual who desires to grow as a person and in their profession—and this not merely imposed on them from outside influences but directed from a desire within to get better at who they are and what they do—each and every day.

STAY IN YOUR FIELD OF EXPERTISE?

While I’m obviously encouraging continuing education within your field of expertise, I would also encourage broader avocational study and practices. If you typically read non-fiction and technical papers, try reading some literature and poetry starting with once a week. If you sit at a desk for 10 hours a day, try standing up for part of that time. Maybe break up the day with a walk outside… and do yourself a favor and leave your phone behind.

What we are finding is that these forays into areas outside of our expertise or natural inclination tend to refresh and invigorate us. When we do return to our work our capacity for creative problem solving, for planning, for reading, etc. are all enhanced.

NOTE

It is important to say that GDI, INC isn’t receiving any kind of kickback from ICC or the AWC or Virginia Tech for the mentions in today’s article. We bring it to your attention because of their value for you. We’ve been longtime proponents of “Pay It Forward”.

Tim Hoke

Design Manager / Sales

Gould Design Inc.

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 learning more about this opportunity, follow the link at the end of 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

success

Humility

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.

This kind of approach is essential as a freelancer because you aren’t 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.

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 90% of the time? Look into settings to change the defaults. Now you only change it for the 10% 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.
  • Don’t switch tools too frequently. Often times we hunt around for the next best tool when in reality, the one we have is good enough. We just need to have the discipline to stick with it… speaking of which:

 

Discipline

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!

Ownership

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.
  • 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”.

Take ownership of your education as well. Read, learn, grow. For more on “Ownership” check out the book Extreme Ownership by Jock Willink and Leif Babin.

Communication

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.

Summary

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!

To start the candidate onboarding process, go here to fill out the form. Note, it will take from 1-3 hours to complete.

Note that candidate onboarding will not begin until after the Christmas holidays.

Tim Hoke – Design Manager / Sales

Gould Design, INC

What Can I Contribute?


In his book The Effective Executive, Peter Drucker writes that the effective executive focuses on contribution:

“The effective executive focuses on contribution. He looks up from his work and outward toward goals. He asks: ‘What can I contribute that will significantly affect the performance and the results of the institution I serve?’ His stress is on responsibility.” Pg. 52

A little later he writes:

“The man who focuses on efforts and who stresses his downward authority is a subordinate no matter how exalted his title and rank. But the man who focuses on contribution and who takes responsibility for results, no matter how junior, is in the most literal sense of the phrase, ‘top management.’ He holds himself accountable for the performance of the whole.” Pg. 53

The characteristic that we see in these people is that they look up from their own narrow perspective and they look out to obtain a broader understanding of the goals of the whole. This will involve not only understanding their own business but understanding the real needs of their clients. Once they obtain this perspective, they think through their own giftings and strengths and ask themselves, “What can I contribute that will enhance the performance of the whole?”

I tend towards putting more time into something in order to increase my contribution. But, that is not what Peter Drucker is talking about. Putting in more time is like addition. 10 + 10 + 10 + 10 + 10 + 10 + 10 + 10 + 10 + 10 = 100. Something is getting accomplished, but it takes a lot of input to obtain the result. But if we change the equation to 10 x 10 = 100…

I find it helpful to impose a limitation on myself such as, “If I only had three hours to work today, what would I do that would bring about the greatest contribution to the business and it’s clients?” This kind of question forces me to think through the goals of the business and how best to accomplish them. It also helps to strip away the “waste” from my day. Then, after answering the question, I have to go and do it. But, the forethought has to be present in order to ensure that those things I am engaged in are going to be impactful contributions.

As you start your week, ask yourself “What can I contribute”. I look forward to hearing your thoughts in the comments below.

Tim Hoke

Design Manager / Sales

Thanksgiving


As I write this, the day “Thanksgiving” has already passed, but that was deliberate on my part. Our holidays can act as a “brake” to our hectic lives, but if we are not careful, we can get pulled into the frenzy that all the busyness of the season can push on us.

Thanksgiving is not merely a day or an event but a state of being; we should wake up every day in the state of “giving thanks” because we have woken up to a new day in this life including all of its challenges and all of its fullness and wonder.

The state of “thanksgiving” that we are talking about helps to provide balance in our lives. I’m thankful for my family. I’m thankful for my job. I’m thankful for friends. I’m thankful for health and vigor. I’m thankful for the possessions that I’ve accumulated and enjoy. Anyone of these things can become corrupted if we pursue them inordinately.

One way I find to encourage an attitude of thanksgiving is in considering death. It is common for those on their deathbeds to start thinking about all those things that they wish they had done differently. If I keep this in my mind that should help me make better decisions in the present.

The number one regret people on their deathbed have is that they wish they had spent more time with loved ones. But, there are frequently other regrets as well. The question we should ask ourselves is this, “How can I structure my day today, to bring about the results I desire tomorrow?” Or, “What hard decision can I make now, that will positively affect my life in the future?” It may be making better decisions, re-structuring your day to spend more time with family, changing jobs, repairing a broken relationship, etc.

Furthermore, what do I already have now that I should be thankful for and enjoy more? I have a family that I can invest myself in. I can make the decision to not work overtime all the time and turn off the laptop at five and read to my kids, play with them, let them help me on some household project. At the end of the day what I will remember at the end of my life, and what they will remember through the course of theirs, is the relationship we had, the time we spent together… and that is just one example.

Do the work. Do good work. But, don’t forget to be thankful for all those things in life that we sometimes see as obstacles to the “end” and are actually the end in themselves. Be thankful!

The Many Faces of the Parapet Truss


There are many projects these days that require a parapet wall in the building design. To understand in detail the nature of and requirement for parapets, please click here for a wonderful article by BSC (Building Science Corporation). Here is a brief definition and description:

parapet-wall

Oftentimes, the builder is asking for the parapet to be built in the trusses and save costly field fabrication time. Like all truss designs, it can get tricky and challenging. There are just as many faces of the parapet truss design as there is to the webbing configurations in common peak trusses.

parapet-roof

In this article, I am going to show you a few different types I have run across. Are you ready?

Common Type Sloping Parapet with Cantilever

truss-parapets-2

truss-parapets-3

Sloping Step with Roof Plane Cut-In

sloping-step-truss-parapets

Gable Studded Sloping Step with Roof Plane Cut-In

sloping-step-truss-parapet-gable

End and Mid-Point Parapet with Roof Plane Cut-In

truss-parapets-1

End and Mid-Point Parapet with Roof Plane Cut-In with Pocket Beam

pocket-beam-parapet-truss

Walk-Through Truss for Roof Access

walkthrough-parapet-access

Parapet Jack Truss

pocket-beam-parapet-jack-truss

These types of trusses are really fun to design, but can be “headscratchers” at times. Every job is like a new puzzle and when it comes to parapets, some of the pieces are really strange to look at!

What kinds of odd shapes of parapet truss have you had to come up with? Share in the comments below.

Wood: A truly remarkable natural resource


As professionals in the building industry, we work with wood structural products every day but may take for granted what wood represents a resource that we use in our lives. You can find wood in structures and products all over our planet.  Wood has been a building block of our civilizations for ages.  The applications for which it can be used seem to be always expanding and I am continually amazed at what can be done with wood.  What makes wood such a remarkable resource?  Let’s take a look.

We can grow it:

Wood is a naturally occurring material.  You can plant some seeds, add some water, and after some time you have a tree that can be used for the production of a myriad of products. That may be a little simplified, but the fact that we can create a raw material simply thru a natural process and not one that requires any mechanical or industrial process is remarkable.  If managed correctly, wood can be a sustainable resource for generations to come.

1-trees

2-truss-employment

Wood can take many different forms:

Wood is all around you during your day in many different forms.  For those of us in the building industry, it’s used in every facet of the building process from studs, rafters, trusses, I-joists, beams, plywood, trim, cabinets, and furniture to name a few.  Wood is used to create instruments, works of art, toys, and sports equipment.

“Wood is made of tiny fibers called cellulose and the natural glue that holds them together is called lignin.  When wood is turned into pulp for paper, heat and chemicals dissolve the lignin and release the cellulose fibers.  By-products of this process are used in asphalt, paint, chewing gum and turpentine.   Other refined cellulose products include rayon, nitrocellulose which is used in the production of nail polish, solid rocket fuel, and industrial explosives. “1

These are only a few of the products that can be created from wood – the list can go on and on, but it is clear just how versatile wood can be.

3-building

4-wood-scruplture

Wood can be formed

Compared to materials such as steel and hardened concrete, wood is relatively soft and can be manipulated into many unique shapes and forms.

5-wood-architecture6-wood-models

Wood is structurally very strong

As a building material wood has many advantages.  One of those being its strength to weight ratio. “ A comparison with steel and concrete shows that structural timber has a strength to weight ratio 20 percent higher than structural steel and four to five times higher than non-reinforced concrete in compression.”2

7-truss-bridge 

Wood is environmentally friendly

Wood is the only naturally renewable mainstream building material.  Trees give off oxygen and consume carbon dioxide.  There is not the impact on the environment to produce trees that you have when producing other materials such and steel and concrete.

Wood is aesthetic

Quite simply wood looks good.  It can make spaces feel warm and inviting.  With all the different varieties of wood and finishes available, you can create almost any look you want.

8-wood-variety9-wood-timbers

These characteristics are just a handful of reasons why wood is such a remarkable resource.  Hopefully, this post will get you thinking of others and help to increase your appreciation of this resource.

I would also invite you to read some previous posts related to this topic.

https://goulddesigninc.wordpress.com/2014/03/06/uniquely-captivating-structures-built-with-wood/

https://goulddesigninc.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/wooden-skyscrapers-to-be-or-not-to-be/

1 www.idahoforests.org

2 http://makeitwood.org

 

Bill Hoover

Operations Manager

Gould Design, Inc.

Component Designers and the “Wheel of Responsibility” (Part 4)


In Part 1 one of this article, we laid the groundwork and the 4 quadrants. In Part 2, we began to identify the quadrants and their focus. In Part 3, we completed the quadrants and explained the meaning of each.

As we eluded in Part 2 and 3, there is much, much more that goes into the design process than is acknowledged or respected. Are you aware of this fact? If not, ignorance is NOT bliss. If you are aware, then are you a part of the solution or a part of the problem?

Briefly, in each of these 4 quadrants, there are three specific targets that are highlighted as the key “lubrication” for a component manufacturer’s business model. Simply put, the designer has the most responsibility directly related to the component manufacturers:

  • Reputation = Designer has to think about
  • Profitability = Designer has to comprehend
  • Customer satisfaction level = Designer has to meet the needs of
  • Repeat business factor = Designer has to understand how to please

Simply put, the component designer is responsible for WAY more than anyone gives him/her credit for. So why is it, that the component designer:

  • Always gets resistance when there is a request for additional training?
  • Why is it that this particular individual and the position the individual holds are so undervalued?

These are questions that only you can answer within each specific company.

Any company that is not willing to invest at least 10% of an individual component designers weekly time on additional professional development is spending at least 20% to 30% more on each and every project that leaves their facility. This is not a guess. This is a fact. The two biggest areas are wasted material and inefficiency.

I know from years of my own personal experience as a business owner of Gould Design, Inc. that this information is either not known or is completely ignored. Some say that ignorance is bliss. I tend to disagree with that. If the component manufacturer would simply take the time to invest in their most valuable asset, they could exponentially increase their profits.

No, I’m not talking about the biggest, fanciest saw that money can buy. Sure, that may be the most expensive asset, but it is not the most valuable. I’m talking about the individual responsible for making sure that everything that gets on that saw is efficient, optimized and fits correctly within the scope of the project it’s assigned to.

You see, all 4 of these quadrants are interrelated. They are all connected as the following model represents:

truss-cycle

Have you ever taken the time to actually calculate the cost of hiring a new component designer? Depending on the quality of their professional development before they got to your company, depends upon the amount of investment you will need provide them to be successful and fit within your company’s protocols and boundaries.

GDI has written many articles in the past relating to the value of training and its importance. I will not take up space to relate to them here. I will encourage you to scroll down to the bottom left and click on the section called “Professional Development” and see for yourself.

Do you realize that there are nearly 500 articles on this blog? The intention of this blog and its articles is simply to share our experience with you, our valued reader. The wise component manufacturing administrator could use this blog as a resource to help their own design team grow. Using this tool comes at absolutely no cost to them other than to invest that 10% in their greatest and most valuable asset by creating time on the schedule for growth.

The hundreds of thousands of dollars that this company called GDI has spent on its team’s development over the years been done to provide a quality service to our customer. It has also done to make the world a better place, to try and help educate those that may not be getting the opportunity for in their career. It has been truly shocking to hear so many applicants say they were never given an opportunity to grow at their previous place of employment.

I’m a firm believer that any leader worth a hill of beans should always be training his replacement. That is exactly what my husband Christopher did with this company. When it came time for him to retire from its management, he did so, happily knowing that he shared as much knowledge and invested into those that were going to carry it on into the future.

The satisfaction I gained from watching him go through that experience simply cannot be put into words. Knowing that you’re doing the right thing by your fellow human is reward enough. Together, we helped build a quality service, filling a need for so many over the years.

In closing, I encourage you to please consider the following:

truss-profit

If you don’t have time to properly train your staff, then call GDI. You will be quite surprised at the result to your bottom line. Remember, if you are not investing that 10% in your most valuable asset, it is really costing you 20%-30% more than you realize. You have nothing to lose and profits to gain!

Naida Gould – Owner

Gould Design, Inc.

ngould@goulddesigninc.com

772-708-8064

Component Designers and the “Wheel of Responsibility” (Part 3)


In Part 1 one of this article, we laid the groundwork and the 4 quadrants. In Part 2, we began to identify the quadrants and their focus. Please click here for Part 1 and here for Part 2 to review.

As we eluded to in Part 2, there is much, much more that goes into the design process than is acknowledged or respected. Are you aware of this? If not, ignorance is NOT bliss. If you are aware, then are you a part of the solution or a part of the problem?

Briefly, in each of these 4 quadrants, there are three specific targets that are highlighted as the key “lubrication” for a component manufacturer’s business model. Simply put, the designer has the most responsibility directly related to the component manufacturers:

  • Reputation = Designer has to think about
  • Profitability = Designer has to comprehend
  • Customer satisfaction level = Designer has to meet the needs of
  • Repeat business factor = Designer has to understand how to please

Customer satisfaction level = Designer has to meet the needs of

What exactly does a designer have to think about in consideration of meeting needs?

truss-engineer

Each and every product delivered to the jobsite has to uphold to the contractor’s expectations, precisely adhere to the engineer’s specifications and satisfy management’s sale price in order to make a profit, right? Each of the 3 items in this quadrant has a direct effect on the customer satisfaction level. If the designer is not thinking about these things in the design process, jobsite efficiency moves at a turtle’s pace. Plain and simple!

Time to ask yourself a few tough questions (now is the time to be open-minded):

  1. When was the last time you invested in your design team and had a collective discussion about ways to be cost-efficient, based on new shop equipment and/or newly stocked inventories?
  2. Are your designers aware that these amazing new saws will cut web/chord lumber for multiple trusses out of the same board?
  3. When you have “TDM’s”, how many of those were design errors or are directly related to engineer preference?
  4. When was the last time you asked your veteran designers on the team to take the time and help out those with less experience and discussed common types of TDM’s that can be avoided?
  5. When was the last time you scheduled a meeting with the General Contractor on the jobsite to help foster a direct, open, positive relationship built through strong communication?

Repeat business factor = Designer has to understand how to please

truss-administration

Each and every product delivered to the jobsite has to uphold to the shop production staff’s expectations, precisely adhere to the company administrative requirements and satisfy what the component salesman promised the customer, right? Each of the 3 items in this quadrant has a direct effect on the repeat business. If the designer is not thinking about these things in the design process, repeat business is a struggle. Plain and simple!

Time to ask yourself a few tough questions (now is the time to be open-minded):

  1. When was the last time you invested in your design team and shop production staff had a collective discussion about ways they become frustrated or continually lose time in the fabrication plant?
  2. When was the last time you asked a designer to put on the tool belt and work in the fabrication plant on recently acquired shop equipment to truly understand how the design affects shop efficiency?
  3. Are your designers exposed to continual training from your Design Administration team that helps them continue to grow?
  4. When you do have “training meetings”, how many of your designers are allowed to share their experiences, or is one person doing and the sharing?
  5. When was the last time you assigned your “junior” designers on the team to take the time and study a topic to teach others in the design staff?
  6. When was the last time you scheduled a meeting with the General Contractor on the jobsite to help foster a direct, open, positive relationship built on strong communication?

In Part 4 of this article, we will conclude and fill in the rest of the blanks. Stay tuned!

Naida Gould – Owner

Gould Design, Inc.

Component Designers and the “Wheel of Responsibility” (Part 2)


In Part 1 one of this article, we laid the groundwork and the 4 quadrants. Please click here to review.

You see, there is much, much more that goes into the design process than is acknowledged or respected. Are you aware of this fact? If not, ignorance is NOT bliss. If you are aware, then are you a part of the solution or a part of the problem?

The responsibility for the designer is further illustrated and begins with the model shown below:

truss-design-responsibility

In each of these quadrants, there are three specific targets that are highlighted as the key “lubrication” for a component manufacturer’s business model. Simply put, the designer has the most responsibility directly related to the component manufacturers:

  • Reputation = Designer has to think about
  • Profitability = Designer has to comprehend
  • Customer satisfaction level = Designer has to meet the needs of
  • Repeat business factor = Designer has to understand how to please

When all is said and done, each of these 12 items are interconnected. They all touch each other. They are all so tightly interwoven that if just one of these quadrants are ignored or overlooked, it could be dangerous to the other 3 quadrants. It could also be costly.

Let’s examine this further:

Reputation = Designer has to think about

What exactly does a designer have to think about in consideration of the company’s reputation?

truss-building-codes

Each and every product delivered to the jobsite has to uphold to the manufacturer’s company values, adhere to the building codes and satisfy the building inspector, right? Each of the 3 items in this quadrant have a direct effect on the component manufacturer’s reputation. If the designer is not thinking about these things in the design process, reputation suffers. Plain and simple!

Time to ask yourself a few tough questions (now is the time to be open-minded):

  1. When was the last time you invested in your design team and held a meeting about company mission, values and/or direction?
  2. When was the last time you asked your design team to take the time and review the building code changes and updates proactively?
  3. When was the last time you scheduled a meeting with the local building inspector to help foster a direct, open, positive relationship of strong communication?

Profitability = Designer has to comprehend

What exactly does a designer have to think about in consideration of comprehension?

truss-software

Each and every product delivered to the jobsite has to uphold to the software provider’s capabilities, precisely adhere to the project’s plans and satisfy the expectations of the framing crew “setting” the trusses, right? Each of the 3 items in this quadrant have a direct effect on the component manufacturer’s profit margin. If the designer is not thinking about these things in the design process, profits suffer. Plain and simple!

Time to ask yourself a few tough questions (now is the time to be open-minded):

  1. When was the last time you invested in your design team and asked them to take the new courses on MiTek University?
  2. Are you aware that MiTek has a weekly newsletter called “Productivity” that highlights changes and upgrades to the software?
  3. If you are aware of the newsletter, are all of your designers getting this extremely valuable email each Thursday?
  4. When you do have “truss repairs”, how many of those design errors are directly related to plan reading?
  5. When was the last time you asked your veteran designers on the team to take the time and help out those with less experience reading plans?
  6. When was the last time you scheduled a meeting with the local framing contractor on the jobsite to help foster a direct, open, positive relationship with strong communication?

In just these 2 quadrants, we have outlined some very important considerations for reputation and profit. The remaining 2 quadrants relate to customer satisfaction and repeat business.

In Part 3 of this article, we will conclude and fill in the rest of the blanks. Stay tuned!

Naida Gould – Owner

Gould Design, Inc.