The Blooming Infrastructure of Greenness

Sustainability is such a broad concept, it should surprise no one that its implementation will require a lot of pieces being put in place.

And that's happening.  Seen at the Alt Build in Santa Monica, CA:

A green realtor called the The House Agents was exhibiting.  A green realtor helps sellers green their homes for sale, including hooking up the homeowner with incentive programs and financing options to facilitiate necessary work.  A green realtor identifies green-minded buyers, and helps those buyers tell the difference between sustainable homes and greenwashed properties.  They also can help package up a "hydrid" loan that provides up to $50,000 for cosmetic repairs, sustainability improvements, and energy efficient upgrades.

This is a positive development.

It's also a positive indicator.  It means there in a rising number of customers for this kind of thinking.  Sustainably-driven living choices that are translating into buying and selling decisions.

If you've been thinking that green is just a fad, think again.  It's not going to fade away. The sooner you make sustainability part of your business model, the better you will fare.

Recycle Old Product Samples

Upon entering the back room of any architectural or design firm, one will probably see thousands of product samples stacked under piles of dust. I know spring cleaning is right around the corner but Stop! Don't throw them away!

Save A Sample!, a company that was started in 1993, takes unwanted product samples from designers and gives them to design schools. Students at these design schools can therefore make great use of these samples in their lessons.

In order to improve your company's sustainability reputation, you may want to offer to pay the postage for architects to send old samples back to you. Alternatively, put a label on your sample kits suggesting they call Save A Sample! to recycle used samples. Another way to do this is to have your reps collect the old samples whenever they drop off new samples; the reps can bring them to local schools. While donating samples to design schools can help build brand awareness among neophyte designers, local elementary and secondary school teachers will also take samples of finish materials to use in art projects.

This year's Save A Sample! runs from April 20 - 22. For additional information, about Save A Sample!, visit

For more information or to hold a Save A Sample! in your city, contact Suzanne Swift: (212) 352-2002 ext.12 or

Need an Architectural Photographer?

It takes time and money to fly around the world with your camera or to transport your own photographer to a project site to take photographs (especially if you want before, during, and after shots). Architectural photography is also more unique than other types of photography because the photographers use special techniques to capture the height, width, and depth of building spaces or landscapes.

Photographs of all stages of construction projects are extremely beneficial to so many different branches of a project. The photographs can be used by the architects, contractors, building product manufacturers, the building itself, and the list continues.

At, you can search through lists of AIAP certified architectural photographers worldwide. If my firm is based in Los Angeles and I have a project in New York, I can scroll down the list of New York photographers, look at their websites and previous work, and choose the photographer I think is best fit for my project. Then VOILA!- I have beautiful photographs!

Audiocast: BIM for Product Manufacturers

CSI's audio podcasts are a great way to get introduced to new ideas in the construction industry. You can hear construction war stories in "How Not To Screw Up;" get news in "Construction Minute," or get a green perspective from "This Week in Green." The archives are filled with interesting stories and useful information, in bite-sized pieces.

The "bimWITS" series is produced in cooperation with the BuildingSMART Alliance and discusses best practices with building information models. This particular episode is about one year old, but it's a nine-minute introduction to BIM from the perspective of the product manufacturer. In this episode, BIM expert Robert Weygant is interviewed by CSI's Aaron Titus.

Listen for answers to these questions:
  • What information should be in a BIM object?
  • What motivates a manufacturer to offer BIM objects?
  • What can designers do with BIM data?

Manufacturers' Reps

A network of regional independent manufacturers' agents (reps) is often the most logical basis for building business. A nework of reps:
  • Has established clientele and know the local specifiers and buyers.
  • Is readily developed and can accelerate market penetration.
  • Are paid only on sale, limiting up-front costs.
  • Within their territory, they work the entire marketplace to move product though multiple levels of decision makers - including specifiers, applicators, contractors, local distributors, and owners.
  • Reps become your agent, with an interest in training, trouble-shooting, and business development within their territory.
The typical building product prospect does not know you, does not know your company, does not know your product, and does not know the material. But the prospect DOES know the local rep, sees the rep at CSI, AIA, ACI, and other industry events. Sees the rep calling on the office or job site to support the rep's other products. Can call the local rep without wondering what time zone he or she is in. Can get the rep into a meeting on short notice, when required. The typical architect or contractor may not return your phone call or email, but will accept phone calls from local reps - reps who are vital sources of support to their effort.

Reps are not incompatible with having a national distributor:

  • Uncover new opportunities.
  • Sales calls on local specifiers and buyers.
  • Training and support.
  • Your eyes, ears, and mouth in territory.
  • Set up and service local distributors.
  • Typically do not warehouse material.
  • May or may not take orders.
  • Respond to local inquiries redirected from Corporate or Distributor.
  • Notify distributor when projects are specified or a contractor is ready to buy.
Reps are paid a commission on all sales shipped into their territory; commissions are about 10% but vary according to the amount of effort anticipated in promoting a line. Occasionally a commission will be split if the specifier is in one territory and the ship-to address is in another territory.

  • Take orders, makes "sales".
  • Call existing accounts to prompt reorders.
  • Can also do prospecting sales calls.
  • Holds paper and makes collections.
  • Deliver goods.
  • Notifies rep when customer needs support.


First, join the Manufacturer Agents National Association and get their list or advertise to their database of architectural products reps. MANA also offers consulting support to manufacturers, sample agreement forms, etc. Cost is $500/year and is well worth it, especially while getting started.

Next, a day of working the phones through your existing networks will identify the most highly respected reps in leading territories. Begin by looking for reps already dealing with your product category.

Your job morphs into supporting and encouraging your reps, leveraging your talents and time. Eventually, you may want a national sales manager to manage reps. While the brand is getting established, it is also useful to give reps a small monthly budget for promotion to make sure they devote time to your line; one experienced rep suggested this could be as low as $500 a month for six months, to be used for lunch programs, local advertising, promotional materials, etc.

CSI Web Users Group on LinkedIn

Aaron Chusid, a Director at Chusid Associates, is now a manager for the CSI Web Users Group on LinkedIn. The group was founded for Construction Specifications Institute members to discuss applications for online media in the construction industry, ask questions, get tips, and improve their professional use of social media.

We are looking for participants at all levels of net savvy; new users to ask the questions and experienced users to help answer them.

The use, by trade organizations, of social media such as LinkedIn is further evidence of the growing importance of new media to the construction industry.

Construction Chart Book

The Construction Chart Book, available as a free download, is a valuable resource for product managers and other building product marketing executives. Published by The Center for Construction Research and Training, formerly known as The Center to Protect Workers’ Rights (CPWR), it contains hard to find information about construction industry employment demographics and trends. Amply illustrated with graphs, it also contains good analysis of industry conditions - at least as they were prior to the market crash of 2008.

About half the book focuses on occupational health and safety issues. This can be a fertile area for identifying potential marketing opportunities. Who know, for example, that 64 percent of carpenters have abnormal hearing (Chart 42b). This is valuable insight not only to tool manufacturers, but also to producers of structural connectors or building systems that might be able to eliminate the need for hammering or cutting - sources of loud jobsite noise.