My last article spoke about training
and developing your team. This month I would like to take this idea
a step further and talk about training and developing your
successor. Let's face it, most contractors and erectors are
independent, privately held companies. We do not typically have
layers of management. In many cases, there is only one guy-the
guy-at the top.
Many of us built our companies from the ground up. We started
with next to nothing. We are proud of our accomplishments. We work
hard; we live well; we send our kids to college and encourage them
to get real jobs. So what happens to our companies as we age, as we
Unfortunately, all too often, I hear about an otherwise healthy
business that is closing because the owner got sick or passed away.
Or, in some cases, successors inherit a healthy business, but have
no idea how to run it. More often than not, they run it into the
Succession planning is a serious subject that does not just
happen one day. Training and leadership need to be a part of your
regular operation and daily routine. To put it another way, think
of any sports team. The good ones all have a good bench. Sure the
star quarterback gets the glory, but a winning team always has a
strong No. 2 in reserve.
I am blessed to have two young partners. We have established a
culture that no one is irreplaceable and that it is everyone's job
to train their replacement. This applies to everyone in the
organization, not just the partners. The foremen are challenged
daily to make the most of the team assigned to them. We believe we
are only as good as the team around us.
So how do you build bench strength? Active participation in
organizations like the Metal Building Contractor & Erectors
Association (MBCEA) is crucial to the development of your team.
This year's annual conference (April 30-May 2, Bahia Resort, San
Diego) will offer several tracks of classes. We will have classes
geared to business management and others geared to project
management. I encourage you to bring one or two (or three) of your
key guys. Spend a few days together networking and learning with
your peers in the industry. Use the travel time to get to know each
other better, to discuss what you learned and how it relates to
Taking a foreman or a superintendent with you to the conference
is a powerful message and motivator. It is a critical step in
building tomorrow's leaders. The conference committee is so
committed to this concept that we have signifi cantly reduced the
price for second and additional attendees from one company. We have
put together a stellar package of classes and speakers with an
underlying focus of best practice from the MBCEA Network. Topics
- IAS accreditation and a workshop on how to prepare
- Contract negotiations
- Dealing with confl ict on the job site
- Development of an erector from HR evaluation to job-site
- Job management through communication and documentation
- Health care
- Understanding the profi t and loss statement
- And even mobile technology and how it can improve on-the-job
Tom Gilligan, president of Butler Manufacturing, Kansas City,
Mo., and vice chairman of the Metal Building Manufacturers
Association (MBMA) will speak on the state of the industry.
Jerry Gaston from Nucor Building Systems, Waterloo, Ind., will
speak on the millennial generation. Representatives from ATAS
International Inc., Allentown, Pa., will educate us about
transpired solar collectors. People from Silvercote Inc., Solon,
Ohio, will challenge our readiness in preparing for ever-changing
building requirements and energy codes. And Chuck Howard, president
of Metal Roof Consultants, Cary, N.C., will speak on re-roofi ng.
WOW! These are all shining examples of our members coming together
for the good of the MBCEA.
Speaking of tomorrow's leaders, I want to shine the light for a
moment on Mike Reynolds, president-elect of MBCEA. If any of you
have ever watched the Metal Buildings Institute (MBI) Quality and
Craftsmanship Training Videos, you have seen a young Mike, working
as a foreman. Today, Mike leads Systems Contractors Inc., which is
an award-winning, national erector based in Thornton, Colo.
Recognized throughout the industry for his extensive knowledge and
expertise in both structural steel and pre-engineered building
systems, Mike currently serves on the erection and safety advisory
panels for several pre-engineered building system manufacturers, as
well as the board of directors for the Steel Erectors Safety
Association of Colorado, MBCEA and MBI.
Mike is a wonderful success story for our industry. At a young
age, he chose to get involved with MBCEA; to invest the time to
participate, to learn, to network. The company he worked for
supported and encouraged his efforts. Today he is the major owner
of that company and is developing tomorrow's leaders. He frequently
says, "My participation in MBCEA has brought in millions of dollars
of work for my company. The return on the investment is huge."
As 2015 gets underway, I encourage you to think about your bench
strength and what you are doing to develop tomorrow's leaders. I
hope to see you at the MBCEA conference in San Diego. I assure you,
you don't want to miss it.
# # #
Gary T. Smith is president of Thomas
Phoenix International Inc., Eastampton, N.J. He proudly serves as
president of the Metal Building Contractors and Erectors
Association and chair of the Metal Buildings Institute
Apprenticeship Committee. He is an outspoken proponent of training
and education for the metal building industry. To learn more, visit