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Member Exchange Networks

The CFA will set up its # rst Member Exchange Networks (M.E.N.) this summer. If you are not familiar with the concept, it is a practice where non-competing CFA contractors get together twice a year (or more often if the group wants) to exchange information about their businesses. The concept is based on the NAHB “Groups of 20” and the ASCC’s MIX groups.

The CFA Board of Directors regularly held its meetings (before the recession hit) in the city’s of other board members and during the course of the visit, nearly always toured the host members operations, freely sharing information about equipment, operations, what works, what doesn’t – the ultimate in networking. The MEN groups (we might want to change it to MXN groups to be politically correct) is the logical outflow of such meetings, expanding the concept to the entire CFA organization.

Such meetings cannot happen without guidelines if participants are to be truly open and honest in their exchanges and CFA has a set of published guidelines with everything from and agreement form and non-disclosure agreement to sample meeting agendas and suggested topics to get the ball rolling. CFA will facilitate the formation and start-up of each group but after that, the groups are on their own. We may prod some of you to meet, offer new candidates, and serve as presenters if requested by the group, but otherwise we are simply facilitators. Before formation of a group, each potential participant has the choice of whether or not they want to work with others in the group. If all members aren’t comfortable sharing information, then different members are solicited.

The ideal size of the group is eight to ten. If members don’t attend and the number of participants drops below 4-5 then the flow of information simply isn’t sustainable. To that end, we need a few more participants to increase the viability of those currently forming as well as aid in the formation of two or three other groups in areas where CFA members have expressed a desire to start a group. The ideal scenario is to have the furthest members located no more than a 4-5 hour drive apart. We anticipate most meetings lasting for two days including commute time but, as I indicated earlier, once the group is formed, it may take on a life of its own.

Some of the suggested topics for discussion include: employee benefits, bonus plans, job costing, billing and collection methods, quality control, estimating, software packages, equipment purchasing, company structure, succession planning, etc. As you can see, the list of potential topics is endless and the potential for information exchange is invaluable. Each group sets its agenda and topics for discussion.

We are also looking at establishing some of these groups with a particular special interest or focus. One such group that is underdevelopment is one comprised of Women-Owned Businesses. Others might stem from a core business in above grade housing or decorative concrete. Let us know if this is of interest so we can work toward establishment of more focus groups and continue to build value in your membership.

If you are interested, contact Jim Baty in our office for the packet of information, rules, and guidelines. His email is; and our telephone is always 866-232-9255.

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