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Letter from the Director: Thoughts from my Desk…

Thoughts From My Desk…

Throughout the 26th volume of Concrete Facts magazine, I will be sharing insights from the many interactions I have with members, non-member companies and the general public. My goals are first, to show you how the challenges faced are universal throughout North America, and second, to use these interactions to help steer this Association and industry into a much tighter coalition of quality and excellence.

Did you catch the Monday Morning Cup of CFA that was sent earlier this month relating the story of technical problem solving? It was brought about when a member faced scrutiny on a massive foundation project: the customer had wanted a monolithic pour and the contractor knew enough to stand firm on construction joints. The standoff ended through a combination of sound technical support for this decision-making and the contractor’s resolve to walk away from the project. Years of commitment to quality construction was not sacrificed for the allure of a larger paycheck or the prestige of a particular project.

I have been engaged for the past three weeks with a mechanical engineer having a new home built. Let’s just say that Google is by no means the best friend of the foundation contractor. This customer researched every last detail of the footings and foundations online, and brought up his findings. The contractor, perhaps a reputable company, has not satisfied the overly enthused customer’s curiosities and concerns. “Should I increase the wall thickness to 10 inches, instead of 8 inches, because of this condition? Money is no object.” Or, “I noticed the footing outside of the wall form they are setting is one inch more than the thickness. Should we move the wall or increase the thickness?” On and on the details of this project have been presented to me since the customer discovered a technical paper published on the internet. While these concerns are not warranted and are the results of a web-surfer applying rules, codes or decisions out of context, or without the whole story, only sound technical evidence would be effective in alleviating concern. Finally, the owner was satisfied that the foundation was sufficient, and he became gracious and patient. Concrete is now finally going in the wall. This will be a happy homeowner. However, the contractor missed out on adding technical knowledge and support to his toolbox for the next enthusiastic customer.

The two stories I have gone through show diametrically opposite positions wall contractors have taken. The first had an established relationship and experience accessing the technical knowledge and advocacy from this national organization. Because of this, he can regularly access the opinions of and share experiences with a trusted peer group, making his company bigger than it could have been alone. The second, although ending with a single successful project, will continue to face the pressure of clients one project at a time, without a large, qualified support system to advise and help him. CapitalOne is famous for the phrase, “What’s in your wallet?” If you are not a member of the CFA, we present to you the question, “Who’s in your corner?”


Peace to you,

James Baty

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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