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An Opportunity We Can't Afford to Miss

Gary T Smith New

Gary SmithCan someone please explain to me what is going on? When did my burly, steel-building erector compatriots turn into a bunch of scaredy cats? We develop a game changer of a program that will make us better and stronger; that will separate the good guys from the rascals; that is a confirmation of all the stuff we have been saying we do all along and still I hear bitching and moaning. "Ooh, too much paperwork." "How come the union endorses it?" "Why so many inspections?" And lions and tigers and bears, oh my.

I am talking about the new accreditation program, AC478, which is a companion to AC472. I keep saying this is a game changer and I truly believe it is. AC478 is an opportunity; an opportunity to elevate our reputation not just for our individual companies but for our industry as a whole. Accreditation is used worldwide to verify the competence of companies and organizations. Yes, it involves a formal assessment performed by a third-party (accrediting organization), and yes, there is a lot of documentation, but that is why the program has teeth. Things worth doing are worth doing right!

I am sick and tired of being just another contractor of low bids, of rascals on the building site. There is a way to turn this around; to mandate a high standard. And that way is a formal accreditation program administered by a worldrenowned agency such as the International Accreditation Service (IAS).

Think about it. Accreditation is tangible proof that you are performing to a certain standard. It is not fluff on your website or LinkedIn page. It is not a rubber stamp. It is the real deal.

For those of you intimidated by the process, I say "trust me." It is highly likely you are already doing the vast majority of what is required. The paperwork is not that bad. Taking the time to build a documented, internal system is empowering. Achieving and maintaining accreditation will most likely improve your operational efficiency and quality of end-state product, which means more business and more profit. Isn't that what we all want?

Let's face it, metal building systems continue to become more complex, finely detailed and highly engineered. As assemblers, we need to keep up and stay ahead of regulations. This accreditation program is designed to ensure our long-term viability.

Who among us does not feel gutted when we hear about a building that has come down or a man seriously injured on the job? Unfortunately, these things happen too frequently. When they do, the ramifications for our industry are much more farreaching than just the immediate players involved. Building failures and serious injuries are a black mark on our trade. They adversely affect all of us. They undermine our reputation.

Tom Gilligan, president of Butler Manufacturing, Kansas City, Mo., and president of the Metal Building Manufacturers Association (MBMA), says AC478 and AC472 is a winning combination and, "If accredited manufacturers and their builders team up with these two quality assurance programs, it will make our industry more competitive and increase its prominence. This is a commitment to a partnership in quality and a reflection on us all. It is an opportunity we can't afford to miss."

"An opportunity we can't afford to miss!" MBCEA members believe our commitment to quality, safety and training is what truly differentiates us from the competition. AC478 is the tangible proof we need. It will prove that we have the personnel, organization, experience, knowledge, management procedures and commitment to assemble metal building systems properly. The internal discipline of working within a documented management system is what will prevent building failures. This same discipline will ensure our longterm profitability and success.

For those of you intimidated by what the program entails, I encourage you to contact MBCEA or attend a workshop. You will find you are already doing the vast majority of what is required. That is if you are one of the good guys. I assure you this is an opportunity we cannot afford to miss.

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Gary T. Smith is president of Thomas Phoenix International Inc., Mount Holly, N.J. He serves as president of the Metal Building Contractors and Erectors Association, chair of the Metal Buildings Institute Apprenticeship Committee and chair of the MBCEA Accreditation Review Committee. He is an outspoken proponent of training and education for the metal building industry.