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Educate Your Builders — CFA Can Help

CONCRETE FOUNDATIONS COURSE

How would you like the opportunity to spend a half-day with your builders instructing them on the best way to build foundation walls? The introduction of Cast-In-Place Foundations, a course developed by the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) with the help of CFA, makes this a real possibility.

Partnering with your local Homebuilders Association and the state Ready-Mix Association will increase your chances of capturing this audience.

The Cast-In-Place Concrete Foundations Course is a half-day seminar that provides homebuilders with the information they need to evaluate site conditions, work with concrete, provide construction support and maintain foundation walls. It discusses proper excavation techniques, safety considerations, and water management procedures. The course also covers the logistics of cast-in-place foundation construction with references to design standards and code requirements. Included are construction details and discussion of common field practices.

Cast-In-Place Concrete Foundations Course is available to all local Home Builders Associations so make sure your local HBA is aware. In order to instruct this course, presenters must attend a daylong training program, “Train the Trainer,” and successfully complete the Cast-In-Place course themselves.

The NAHB-sponsored “Train the Trainer” course covers basic principals of learning and presenting, includes interactive exercises and concludes with students making a five-minute presentation.

The end result will help the student present his/her ideas in a clear and concise manner to his/her class.

EDUCATION PROVIDED AN EXTENDED OPPORTUNITY

Tim Parrish of Cornerstone Foundations in Harrisonburg, VA initially decided to participate in CFA’s speaker training opportunities as a way to promote concrete housing. An active member of the CFA, and a board member since 1999, Parrish continually turns to the Association for education, but it wasn’t until he took National Association of Home Builders’ Cast-In-Place course he realized the benefits of presenting education to builders and design professionals about the benefits of poured foundations.

“The text and PowerPoint presentation made it easy to teach,” states Parrish. “It was a no brainer.”

In Virginia, the state ready mixed association backed the course and worked with the local Home Builders Associations in three cities to sponsor the class. The course gave Parrish an extended opportunity to speak with an audience he would otherwise only see in the field.

“In any other setting, I would have gotten only a few minutes of their attention,” Parrish explains. Parrish was surprised, “and thrilled,” to have attendees come up to him after each course and say how helpful the time had been. And he received inquiries in each session about providing a similar course in the future for building inspectors.

“After presenting the material three times, I feel very comfortable with it. “ Parrish explains.” I can easily modify the material and length of the presentation to best suit my builders.”

Since Parrish presented to builders in three different cities, there were traveling and lodging costs involved. Parrish offset the cost with a generous donation from Bill Marshal of Certainteed Form-A-Drain. Certainteed covered the traveling costs for one of Parrish’s presentations, and then provided a table-top display at that location.

“[Marshal] was a big help as we worked through the footer portion, “ said Parrish. “This could easily be repeated in any locality with a local supplier.”

BRINGING EDUCATION CLOSER TO HOME

When Advanced Concrete Foundations, Inc in Troy, VA attended a Foundation Fundamentals in Richmond, they realized immediately that they wanted to provide bilingual education closer to home. Tom Lanahan, a builder at the time, formed Advance Concrete in 1989 when he saw a set of forms and was certain he could sell the product to the builders in the area. He started out with two crews for footings and foundation walls. Now he has 100 employees, 12 crews, working in 20 counties.

He has even employed a night crew, consisting of a retired gentleman and three high school students, who clean up and prepare the trucks for the next workday.

A family run business, Tom and his wife, Kay, are actively involved in the daily operations. Their daughter is in charge of operations, one son runs the sales department and the other is responsible for getting the company up to speed with the Cad System while he attends college. The Lanahan’s realized that they wanted to provide services so “the builders would only have to think from the plate up.”

“They would save money without having to think about anything below ground,” states Kay Lanahan.

The Lanahans understand the importance of education, and providing those in the industry with the most up-to-date information. While they work hard to educate their employees, going so far as to provide their leadmen with six to eight weeks of job shadowing with their experienced foremen, they continue to seek other educational opportunities for their crews, as well as professionals.

“We want to make the builders and other professionals in our area knowledgeable about the poured wall system,” Kay explains. “So they know how to design for the poured wall industry.”

The Lanahans also want to give contractors the opportunity to educate their employees by providing a presentation similar to CFA’s Foundation Fundamentals. This seminar will be provided in both English and Spanish.

USE THE CFA

Although a new member of the CFA, only joining in March of 2005, Procon, Inc of Rocky Mountain, VA, has already realized what many CFA veteran members have not – the CFA is here to provide you with the education needed to better the poured wall industry. Aaron Long, owner of Procon, started the business in 2002 when he realized he could provide the diversification needed to create a niche in his market. There weren’t many contractors in the area and he was going to provide turnkey service. Three years later, he has 40 employees; two wall, three footer and two slab crews.

With cold weather coming on, Long decided it was time to educate the local homebuilders, design professionals, and building inspectors about poured wall foundations. They plan to host the Cast-In-Place Foundation course in February.

“We’d like to educate our builders to point out there are improvements in shrinkage cracks, and the use of higher PSI and lower slump,” explains Matthew Rutrough, the scheduler and human resource personnel for Procon, Inc. “ Many builders don’t understand the quality advantages of using a boom truck in our area.”

Hosting the Cast-In-Place Foundations course also gives Procon, Inc. the opportunity to work on better, more open communication with building inspectors.“ We can let them know what’s out there and what we’re doing,” states Rutrough.

Long, and his wife …, have worked hard to market their services, and within the last year, added a full-time salesperson to their personnel who provides initial contact with the customer. They also have used the CFA marketing materials such as the Lower Level Living brochure to inform new customers about cracks, cold weather, and below ground living options.

“We’d eventually like to send a monthly to our builders to inform them of safety issues, cold weather concrete, and other topics that pertain to the industry,” states Rutrough.

Procon, Inc. is a younger, smaller company but realizes with the help of the national CFA, they can provide better education to their market. You can too. If you are interested in having a seminar in your area; or better yet, becoming an instructor, then contact CFA headquarters at toll free 866-CFA-WALL. Whether you want to promote foundations yourself, or provide the opportunity to homebuilders and design professionals, CFA is here to help.

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Concrete FACTS, a publication of the Concrete Foundations Association, is THE voice for residential concrete industry news, market intelligence, business strategies, technical solutions, product information, and other resources for professionals in the cast-in-place concrete industry. Subscriptions to Concrete FACTS is available to anyone involved or interested in the residential concrete industry as a service to your industry. Please contact CFA Headquarters to find out more about your free subscription or Email Us