CONSTRUCT 2013 Reflections


CONSTRUCT 2013 Reflections

Posted By PaulDGerber

OK, so I’m a little slow, not like some of my other blogging friends…still trying to figure out this whole world of WordPress! But I figure better late than never right??


The much anticipated week of the early fall has come and gone…in the blink of an eye…like I knew it would; just like it did last year!

CONSTRUCT and the 56th Annual Convention of the Construction Specifications Institute took place in Nashville, TN at the new, beautiful and architecturally interesting Music City Center in the heart of the fun and vibrant downtown.











If you’ve never attended you’re probably asking “so what’s the big deal about CONSTRUCT?”; for those that have you’re answering “what isn’t a big deal about CONSTRUCT?”. It is one of only a couple conferences I have ever attended where you can find fun, experts from across the construction industry, fun, excellent educational sessions, fun, people willing to share their vast & varied knowledge, fun, a true sense of camaraderie & true friendship (even with people that you only see in real life once a year). The only other conference I attend that is anything like it is the Construction Specifications Canada (CSC), my “home” association, which is on a much smaller scale (due to the fact that it’s membership is proportionately smaller); but being CSI’s sister organization it has much the same vibe around it.

CONSTRUCT officially runs from Tuesday to Friday, with full days of educational sessions on Tuesday and Thursday. The “show floor” with its displays featuring manufacturers showing their wares for across the construction industry opens on Wednesday; which is incidentally also the day of the keynote session.

This years keynote speaker was Ira Blumenthal who is a motivational speaker who discussed change, and more specifically the change of speed in today’s world with his “Change is Inevitable:  Building Your Brand for the Future” presentation. CSI President Casey Robb even managed to convince his friend Ira to perform a song for us; an adaptation of Bob Dylan’s classic “The Times They Are A-Chagin”. At the crux of Blumenthal’s address was the message “Ignore change, and you will die.”. Numerous examples of companies were cited that did not heed this advice such as Eastern Airlines and Blockbuster Video among other notables. I don’t think anyone that is actively involved in any professional association hasn’t participated in a conversation regarding not only the change needed to achieve growth, but with the change in mentality of Generation Y regarding such associations and their very existence. Robb suggested that all AEC professionals in attendance need to “Step Up Your Game with CSI”.

Part of the change that CSI has experienced in the last few years has been the interaction of members through various Social Media (SoMe) outlets; the two most popular being Twitter and LinkedIn. CSI’s Twitter community is vibrant and full of people willing to offer their expertise and experience to anyone willing to engage in conversation. This is one of the aspects of membership that I have enjoyed most since joining CSI in June 2012. To give you an idea of the impact that Twitter had on the overall convention experience in all of the educational sessions, CSI Tweeps could be found “live Tweeting” the discussion that was taking place so that people that were unable to attend or attendees in other sessions could get a sense of the sharing that was going on. Thanks to the post-convention efforts of Kait Solomon (@KaitlinSolomon3) all of the conversations around the various sessions were curated using Storify so that a more permanent record is available for future reference. Despite hearing from many attendees that both mobile (cellular) and wi-fi coverage in the various rooms was deplorable; the various CSI Tweeps managed to break the TWO MILLION impression mark using the hashtag #CONSTRUCT for this year’s event.

Educational opportunities abounded in Nashville. I personally attended sessions including (links to the Storify summaries are at the end of the line, where available):

– T04 – Content-Driven Marketing for Construction Professionals with CSI’s very own Goddess of Social Media Joy Davis, CSI, CCPR (@CSIConstruction#CONSTRUCT T04: Content Driven Marketing for Construction Professionals

– T13 – Six Specs to Sunday with Mark Kalin, FCSI, FAIA of Kailin Associates Architectural Specifications

– T18 – The Evolution and Demise of Construction Documents with Sheldon Wolfe, RA, FCSI, CCS, CCCA, CSC, NIBS (@swolfearch) of BWBR Architects Inc.  #CONSTRUCT T18: The Evolution and Demise of Construction Documents

– T21 – Business Accounting 101 for Independents – A Panel Discussion with Liz O’Sullivan, CSI, CCS, CCCA, AIA, LEED AP (@LizOSullivanAIA) of Liz O’Sullivan Architecture, LLC  #CONSTRUCT T21: Business Accounting 101 for Independents – A Panel Discussion

– W01 – Sifting Through the Ever-Changing Codes and Standards Affecting 08 71 00 with Laura Frye, AHC, CSI, CCS, FDAI (@LauraJeanFrye) of Stanley Security Solutions

– W07 – Specifying Division 01 for Design-Build Projects with Clifford Marvin, CSI, CCS, SCIP, AIA Assoc., LEED-AP (@cliffordmarvin) of Conspectus Inc.

– H04 – Documenting Design Intent with Preliminary Project Descriptions (PPD) with David Stutzman CSI, CCS, SCIP, AIA, LEED AP (@dstutzman) of Conspectus Inc.

– H10 – Architect/Consulting Engineer Coordination: Closing the Gap with Cherise Schacter. CSI, CDT (@CheriseSchacter), also known as the Queen Kraken, of Interface Engineering  #CONSTRUCT H10- Architect/Consulting Engineer Coordination: Closing the Gap

– H13 – Sustainable Rating Systems and Implementation Strategies with Paul Bertram, FCSI, CDT (@Bertram1Jr) of Kingspan Insulated Panels and Nina Giglio, FCSI, CCS, SCIP (@Specwinch) of  HALL | Building Information Group, LLC

– F05 – What Spec Writers Need to Know about BIM with Brok Howard, NCARB, AIA, CSI, CDT, LEED GA (@brokhoward) of HOK  #CONSTRUCT F05: What Spec Writers Need to Know about BIM

There were also many opportunites for social interaction that, for me, is an important aspect of a memorable convention experience. Starting with the Welcome Reception in the Music City Centre’s courtyard to the CSI Nashville Chapter event at the Country Music Hall of Fame to Friday night’s Gala and Awards dinner attendees had ample opportunity to interact with friends and colleagues and form new friendships along the way. In addition to the “formal” social functions, informal lunches, dinners and last-minute gatherings at various venues along the vibrant Broadway strip caused many to experience less-than-healthy amounts of sleep during the week.

Of course I can’t forget the less formal sessions offered in the CSI’s Leader Lounge where various Leaders offered their expertise and experience on chapter-building, planning and other member development subjects to help chapters across the country at training their leaders enhancing their member experience.

The CSI Booth on the show floor gave the opportunity for many other discussions (both formal and informal) from MasterFormat, Technical to Educational to Certification Committees. The highlight for me at the CSI Booth was the TweetUp that happened on Thursday from 2:00 to 4:00 PM hosted by Cherise Schacter (@CheriseSchacter) and yours truly. It gave a central meeting spot where all of CSI’s Twitter Community could come and meet the people they interact with on a daily basis in real life. It was fun seeing people I had previously met as well as those I hadn’t. “So you’re @SoAndSo” was heard by many as the Tweeps put faces and voices to Twitter handles.

As far as I am concerned, I only had TWO complaints for the whole week of CONSTRUCT:

– especially being one of the few Canadians that attended, the mobile network on my phone was turned off as soon as I crossed the border. Therefore wi-fi coverage at the Convention site is of paramount importance to me in keeping connected and feeling part of the SoMe community that I am an active participant in. Knowing that we were going to a virtually brand new facility, the abhorrent lack of wi-fi coverage was something I could not have imagined. It runs akin, in my humble opinion, to hotels that still treat wireless Internet as a “new technology” that needs to be charged for. PULEEEEASE people, this is 2013, not 1990!! In the words of Ira Blumenthal “Change or die!”. I would even be so bold as to say that in the future, if free wireless Internet access is not available in all parts of the Convention space, including the show floor, we as CSI should say “Next!!” since this is a vital part of the way our members interact!

– the time at CONSTRUCT always goes by too fast and there is never enough time available to spend with friends and colleagues that you haven’t seen in a year! Unfortunately I don’t know of any simple, economical answer to that issue. If money was no object I would say extend it to two weeks, but I’m sure our hard-working CSI staffers would call for my public torture, or maybe worse, based on the countless hours they already put into making CONSTRUCT the resounding success it already is; not to mention the stress they all endure to make sure everything is taken care of to allow this!

I would like to say a HUMUNGOUS and heart-felt THANK YOU to all of our dedicated staff (I am not even going to attempt to name you for fear of forgetting someone) for all you do to make sure we have a fun, educational, fun, worthwhile, fun, enjoyable and FUN week! Without your contributions, our experience would be nothing like I have experienced for the last two years and what I am already anticipating for CONSTRUCT 2014 in Baltimore! Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!!! (said while doing the “we are not worthy” bow)

I would also like to thank my CSI Tweeps that I saw again this year Eric “Loose-e-eh” (@EricDLussier), John Danes (@johndanes), Cherise Schacter (@CheriseSchacter), Liz O’Sullivan (@LizOSullivanAIA), Dave Stutzman (@dstutzman), Vivian Volz (@vivianvolz), Lynn Javoroski (@LynnJav), Clifford Marvin (@cliffordmarvin), Randal Reifsnider (@rreifsnider), Kirby Davis (@GreenKirby …even though she snuck out with saying goodbye), John Guill (@SpecmonkeyNorth), Ray Gaines (@Ray_Gaines_FCSI), Charles Hendricks (@thegainesgroup), Louis Medcalf (@MedcalfLouis) Robin Snyder (@speclawyer), Nina Giglio (@Specwinch), Gary Beimers (@gbeimers), Peter Jordan (@JPeterJordan), Mitch Miller (@m2architek), Ron Geren (@specsandcodes…and one of CSI’s newest Fellows), T.J. Gottwalt (@TJGottwalt), Beth Stroshane (@BethStroshane), Sheryl Dodd-Hansen (@sheryl_dh), Ann Baker (@archfan), Casey Robb (@cfrobb56), (Carol Hagen (@carolhagen), Walt Marlowe (@wmarlowecsi), Joy Davis (@CSIConstruction), Matt Fochs (@mrfochs), and last, but not least, Kait Solomon (@KaitlinSolomon3).

It was also nice to meet some new Tweeps in Nashville like Andy McIntyre (@gen7rep), Laura Frye (@LauraJeanFrye), Thad Goodman (@GoodmanThad), Christine Tanner (@ChristineLTanne), Kelly Porter (@KellyPorterCSI), Erica Cox (@EricCoxCSI), Julie Barrett (@barrettju), Brok Howard (@brokhoward), Tina Montone (@TinaMontone), LeeAnn Slattery (@leeannslattery), Lori Greene (@LoriGreeneAHC) and Rietta McCain (@rietta_mccain).


So in closing (and I know I have broken one of the rules discussed at the bloggers forum that I attended thanks to Kait Solomon; keep your blog posts short) I am so looking forward to CONSTRUCT 2014 in Baltimore from September 9 to 14; to more fun, great education and once again re-connecting with AEC friends! Hope to see you there!


Thanks for the momories,

Paul (@PaulDGerber)

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Posted By PaulDGerber

So I have finally taken the leap! I guess I am now officially a blogger!

Thanks to some great examples from some of my friends & colleagues who have been blogging for some time now, I have decided to try my hand at this. I am always amazed at the information and entertainment I get from others blogs. This is my inspiration for starting my own blog. Hopefully I will be able to give back to the same online “community” that I have become a part of; whether its through passing on some of the knowledge I have gained in the architectural field in the past 23 years (more specifically in architectural specifications), or giving little snipits on my other passion – two-wheeled therapy and my adventures through that or just my weird and wacky sense of humour that some of you have come to enjoy (?) and appreciate (yeah I know, now I’m really pushing it).

If nothing else, I am hoping to learn something about websites and how they work (sounds vaguely familiar to an online friend of mine from Texas and his humble beginnings about 3 years ago…I just hope I can achieve 1/10th of the “fame” he has gotten from his blog).

So bear with me as I jump in with both feet. Look for changes as I learn new things (and hopefully improvements from where I have started). Try and get through my rambling diatribes of things that I feel may be relevant or even important to share; and at the very least share a laugh and hopefully leave me a comment about what I have written to continue the discussion that I hope I can create here.

I will use Twitter when I have a new post, show watch my feed at @PaulDGerber and if you aren’t already following me (horror!), what are you waiting for? There is no time like to present to connect!

Until my next post…

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