Building Product Manufacturer Meltdown: How to Avoid Presentation Mistakes

Posted On: 
Jul 26, 2017
Building Product Manufacturer Meltdown: How to Avoid Presentation Mistakes

No one wants to be embarrassed or humiliated when visiting an architecture firm. It is crucial that building product manufacturer representatives are fully trained about their product’s benefits, applications, warranty, installation, and maintenance issues. Spec writer Craig K. Haney, FCSI, CCS, recounts a story from his early days that illustrates the pitfalls of not being educated fully about your building product. Let’s hear what he has to say about it-

“Some years ago I was approached by one of my firm’s developer clients to consider using a product that was new to the US market, but which had been available in Europe for several years. I requested test data from the US representative, which he agreed to bring to my office along with a newly-arrived sample of the product. I set up a meeting with the client and the architect’s project manager to review the test data and the sample.

This particular product representative was pretty new to the field; I think that he had been selling insurance previously. I was a neophyte specifier. We both learned a lot this day. The product representative first pulled out the sample, which he was obviously very proud of. Apparently, this was the first sample of this product to arrive in the US. It was a very nice looking product.

We then looked expectantly at the test data, only to realize that the tests had all been performed to European testing standards, for which the product representative had no conversions.
The architect’s project manager was a quiet fellow, but what he did next spoke volumes. He took out a pen and jabbed it through the sample, right down to the table top. He broke the sample in half over his knee. Then he took out a lighter and set fire to it. I glanced at the product representative, who was obviously horrified over what had happened to his beautiful sample.

After we had successfully cleared the cloud of toxic smoke from the building, we realized that the project manager had quietly left the room, without saying more than ten words the entire time. But what did his actions say to a young and aspiring specifier? The product had no impact resistance, no flexural strength, and was not fire rated. No further testing needed.

I saw that poor product representative a few more times after that, mostly at CSI chapter meetings, before he disappeared. Hopefully his return to the insurance industry worked out better for him than being a building product representative.”

What types of meltdowns has your team experienced in the field? How has your company dealt with the unexpected at AEC firms?

For more information or to discuss the topic of this blog, please contact Brad Blank