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CFA Management Exchange Network

Networking with other CFA members, in particular within small groups of non-competitors, is one of the biggest benefits of belonging to a trade association. Networking takes place at our summer meetings, at the World of Concrete, at our board meetings – just about anywhere two or three contractors can get together.

This concept has been carried to a higher level by board members. They visit each other’s facilities, their personnel communicate at many levels, and of course, they socialize. Several other associations (NAHB and ASCC to name two) have structured networking programs wherein the associations facilitate the formation of these groups.

The CFA has been working for several months on a format for structured networking and is ready to proceed if the level of interest is sufficient. There are several premises that must be in place for the groups to succeed. They include:

  • Participants must not be competitors;
  • They must sign non-disclosure agreements;
  • They should be close enough to each other so that members can drive to meetings; and,
  • Participants must be willing to share information about their company operations.

The CFA acts as a facilitator by collecting interest forms, proposing the make-up of groups, and helping with the first meeting. A group will typically have between 6 and 10 member companies. The CFA will contact all members of the group and each company will have the ability to determine who is in their group. After the groups are formed they are on their own with CFA only participating if the group wants a presentation from CFA staff or if there are problems.

We have developed a list of potential discussion topics, the non-disclosure agreement, a sample meeting agenda, and a host of other suggestions on how to run the group. The individual groups will decided on meeting frequency and focus. It is recommended that they meet at least twice per year and that the meeting sites rotate between member companies. Some meetings may include financial staff, operations staff, or others depending on the focus of a given meeting. The topics we propose are only suggestions.

The length of the meetings is a decision to be made by the respective groups. They should last at least a halfday but could go as long as a day and a half. Attached to this letter is a member interest form and a company profile form. Please fill this out and send these forms to CFA headquarters if you have interest in participating. Upon receipt, we will forward you our Management Exchange Network information packet, which has the agreement, sample agenda and other relevant information.

Once the initial group has been formed, they will be encouraged to allow visitors so that they can see how an established group operates. I hope that you will find this initiative to be of value. You may want to have your groups meet at the CFA summer convention or World of Concrete.

If you are interested in this opportunity, contact Jim Baty at jbaty@cfawalls.org or by fax at 320-213-5556, with your name and company information.

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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