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CFA Plans For The Future

The Concrete Foundations Association spent an entire day last month locked in a room brainstorming about the future of the CFA (actually we were free to come and go as needed). Some great ideas were put forth and we feel the initiatives will help invigorate the Association while preparing it and the members, for future years. Everything was on the table. Some of the items discussed were projects currently under development but a lot of the discussion focused on what else we can do to serve our members.

A member survey conducted during the weeks leading up to the event pointed out one serious shortcoming – most members either don’t realize what we already do or they don’t take advantage of the benefits that are already in place. This is most evident with regard to the breadth and depth of information available on our web site. To address this shortcoming, we will be sending out information on a regular basis that highlights a different section of the web site and how to access it. Similarly, our efforts in the code arena and other member efforts, and how to benefit from them, will be highlighted in simple one-page flyers.

There were also plenty of new ideas proposed. One of the most promising will be the publication of what we plan to call “Tech Sheets”. Tech Sheets, a 2-4 page presentation of a selected topic will cover a wide variety of issues ranging from a simple explanation of what the Cold Weather Guidelines can do for you, to how to use the ACI-332 Standard in conjunction with the International Residential Code when working with building code officials. Other areas that will be covered in the “Tech Sheet” series will include cracking, backfilling, form oil on rebar, OSHA (confined spaces and fall protection), frost protected shallow footings, and R-value of concrete walls to mention a few. Every time we help a member solve a problem we will evaluate the information to see if we can develop a “Tech Sheet” so that all members can benefit from the experience of one.

Sales of CFA literature has fallen off considerably in the past several years. Many of our flagship pieces are starting to look somewhat dated so we hope to evaluate our entire stable of publications. We may combine some, delete others, and all will get a facelift over the next year as we exhaust current supplies. If you think we should produce a marketing piece that covers a certain topic make sure you get in touch with staff of a member of the marketing committee.

The CFA Contractor Certification program received continued endorsement from the board and is moving forward. A considerable amount of work remains before the program can be introduced but progress is being made. Look for it late next spring.

The concept of structured networking was also discussed. The National Association of Home Builders has their “Groups of 20” and the American Society of Concrete Contractors has “Mix Groups”. In essence, these are opportunities for non-competing contractors to meet once or twice a year and learn what each is doing to make their business better. The CFA board does this on an informal basis whenever they visit another member’s facilities. The entire operation of the host company is open for questions, evaluation, scrutiny, and suggestions by the other attendees. Why should this be limited to board members. Staff will be developing a model for its own version of structured networking in hopes that several groups can be developed over the next 6-12 months. Updates will be provided on a regular basis.

The last item that was discussed during the strategic plan/board meeting was the concept of developing a self-insurance program for CFA members. Large corporations and public entities have been doing this for decades but there are now model that have proven they can work in much smaller organizations. A related concrete trade association of similar size and scope to the CFA is in their 4th year of such a program and they are saving participating members up to 30% of their insurance premiums as well as providing much-needed cash for the association. The group will even return dividends to participants this year. A task force was appointed to investigate this option for CFA but it has the potential be a win-win situation for everyone.

A host of other ideas and priorities were also discussed and prioritized and the CFA will continue its industry wide efforts in codes and standards. As you can tell from the descriptions above, the CFA is aggressively working to add to the list of member benefits and provide value-added services. We hope that you feel our efforts are worthwhile. As always, we are open to suggestions, ideas, and comments.

Ed Sauter, Executive Director, CFA

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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