The most valuable resource in the construction industry are those in the industry helping others

As I wrote last week, the biggest challenge we face in our industry is “no design.” Buildings that do not address climate, culture, or context will tear apart of community if allowed to proliferate a geographic region. Your community could become a nondescript wasteland with no identity.


We need the built environment to reflect our values and beliefs. So how do we take on this huge burden of designing a future with which our society will be shaped? We can only do it if we know the best practices and information available. We can only do it acting as a cohesive community of designers, builders, engineers, and product suppliers. We can only do it together as a profession.

Timberlake 9.4.13 005

One of my biggest sources of professional resources is the Construction Specifications Institute. Through this one organization I have met many of the best in the industry. A short list of those that give me support and inspiration are Kait Solomon, Joy Davis, Hagerco, Paul Gerber, Marvin Kemp, Cherise Schacter, Ray Gaines, Thad Goodman, Ginny Powell, Lori Greene, Mitch Miller, David Stutzman, Ellen Onstad, Eric Lussier, Sheldon Wolfe, Liz Sullivan, DuWayne Baird, Rietta McCain, Vivian Volz, Gary Beimers, Andy McIntyre, Sheryl Dodd-Hansen, Brian Trimble, LeeAnn Slattery, and Randy Nichimura.


Invest in your future, your profession, and your community, Join CSI.

I strongly believe in investing in education in order to better my future, my profession, and my community. In order to be able to solve the complicated buildings in our future we have to continue to learn new and innovative solutions. From building energy-efficient structures to healthy buildings we are learning new lessons everyday. There are constantly new buildings materials being introduced with huge claims – some that can be proven, some that fall short. So how do we address these new challenges? How will we be prepared for buildings of the future?

It is incumbent for all of us in the construction industry to continue to learn new methods, understand past successes and failures, and build relationships with other experts in the industry. This cross-pollination happens in the only organization in the construction industry that invites builders, architects, engineers, specifiers, product representatives, interns, and designers to the same table as an equal, CSI.The local chapter of CSI is based in Charlottesville. There are also chapters in Northern Virginia, Roanoke, Tidewater, and DC that are in our area. DSC_0143

I have found huge value in being involved in CSI. Read more here, here, and here. I encourage you to invest in the future of our industry by coming to a meeting, joining a chapter, and getting involved. Before you join – remember, you get out of an organization what you put into it. Joining and not attending meetings will not give you a return on your investment.

Join CSI by August 31 and pay only $192 for national dues — a 20% savings.

  1. Log onto
  2. Select “Join Now”, and then click “Sign Up as a New Member”
  3. Enter Promotion Code CSISummer13 when prompted
  4. Click the “Add Discount” button

The Backbone of the Construction Industry

The Backbone of the Construction Industry

I was struck the other day at a Central Virginia CSI meeting when our current President, Tracie Skipper, clearly at the end of her rope, needed help. For every task she listed, there was a member ready to step in to give their time, efforts, and talents. For every need, she found a willing person to step in to work towards the goal with no pay. Her spirits were lifted, her mood shifted, and it was clear that she found energy from the willingness of others to lift her up and give. It was clear that CVCSI is the backbone of the construction industry in Charlottesville.

Construction Specifications Institute

“Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.” Elizabeth Andrew

While I have been involved in many organizations over the years, I have never seen one so close to the edge, bounce back so quickly only by the simple request for support. In an industry that has seen some of the worst economic conditions since the great depression, this organization is thriving. While the membership has slipped this organization is rebounding. There is new energy, new ideas, there is hope that the future is bright for those in the organization and for the industry as a whole.

“It’s easy to make a buck. It’s a lot tougher to make a difference.” ~ Tom Brokaw

It is interesting that this organization, Central Virginia Chapter of the Construction Specifications Institute is not about any one person. The goals are not about building business, although I have seen that happen. The motivation is not for personal benefit, although those involved will tell you there is some gained. This organization, the members that serve, the effort that is given, is directly to benefit all the members of the construction industry, to provide education, connections, and best practices. This organization is focused on creating a greater good for all those in the industry, not just those at the meetings. This organization, working together, brings the latest knowledge, trends, and ideas to the table for all members to equally discuss, learn, and broaden their base. This organization strengthens the construction industry as a whole and the CSI members doing the work deserve our gratitude.

No one is more cherished in this world than someone who lightens the burden of another.  Thank you.  ~Author Unknown

I am in awe of the work that is done by Tracie Skipper of Pella Windows to benefit everyone in our industry. She could be at home simply relaxing, but instead, she is working towards helping all of us have better opportunities. I am struck by the energy and passion that Duncan Macfarlane, Laura Fiori, Sarah Heid, Meghan Johnston, and David Groff have in their work with CVCSI, with no desire for personal gain, simply doing it to make our industry stronger. I am blown away by the years of service that Mitch Miller, Raymond Gaines, Sal Verrastro, Ron Keeney, Henry Zirkle, Mike Davis, Gilman Hu, Dennis Hall (west and east coast), Margaret Chewning, Joy Davis, Josh Spiler, Kathy Proctor, Brent Williams, and Charlie Beauduy have given to CSI in their respective geographic areas, giving up weekends, week nights, and family time to help this industry grow and prosper through the sharing of knowledge. I am inspired by the emerging leaders, Kris Benton, Nida DeBusk, Brok Howard, Blake Wagner, Robert Huserik, Leslie Schlesinger, and Sarah Caldwell that have shown this organization will carry forward and grow in this recovering economy and continue to be the one organization that brings all members of the construction industry to the same table as equals to discuss best practices, lessons learned, and mistakes to avoid.