Over the past year, several Conpsectus team members have attended architect-manufacturer summits, colloquially known as 'speed dating' events. David Stutzman recently returned from SpArc in Fort Worth, Texas, which is run by Opal Summits. Last month I attended CSi2eye, a one-day program presented by Chicago Chapter CSI. Many of us have, in previous years, attended CSI's Master Specifiers Retreat and BOND's Arc US event. With the exception of CSi2eye (which is one day and locally-hosted), these are all multi-day conferences that require attendees to travel, remain on site, and participate in a series of 20 or 30 minute meetings with product reps over the course of the event.
When they work as planned, these events are designed to be beneficial for all. The organizer makes a profit by charging manufacturers enough to pay for the entire event, including the costs for their own staff, presenters, and covering the costs for architects and specifiers to attend. The manufacturers' representatives receive significant one-on-one time with lead designers and technical architects, permitting them to get the word out about their products and to present themselves as skilled problem solvers and trusted advisors. The architects and specifiers attending the event receive continuing education, are presented a keynote speech, and also benefit from the face to face meetings with manufacturers.
Manufacturers are asked to send high-level technical sales reps; individuals who know the product line very well and can answer detailed questions. Architectural firms are asked to send 'senior decision makers, who are capable of asking the detailed questions but also take meaningful action on what they learn from the manufacturers.
In attending these events, expect for the one-on-one manufacturer meetings to have the highest value. Attendees on the architectural and manufacturer side of the table will come away having made valuable contacts that they continue to utilize when they need technical information. The design professionals will likely learn about new and innovative products that are meant to solve specific building problems that they might not even have been fully aware of.
At CSi2eye, one problem that numerous reps had products intended to address is a current shortage of skilled bricklayers. To address that problem, J.W. Mollohan from Dryvit presented their NewBrick product, a manufactured modular EIFS unit made to look like brick but to be adhered to solid substrate. And Steve Hunt, an independent rep focused on masonry products presented Block Up, precision cast interlocking concrete masonry units manufactured to be installed without mortar. Steve had brought one full-size block and a collection of DUPLO-sized models for architects to try out.
Another innovative solution was Bendheim's Turn Key interior glass wall cladding system, presented by Derek Larson and Said Elieh, meant to eliminate much of the labor required to install decorative interior glass. This system is made of extruded aluminum channels designed to be fastened to substrate and accept quick-lock clips that both hold the glass on the wall and make it easily removable.
Finally, to solve the problem of roofing in cold weather and in applications where other installation methods aren't appropriate, Carlisle Syntec Systems has their new FleeceBack RL system. This was presented by Art Scheidecker from Architectural Building Solutions, an independent building envelope rep. Their RL roofing literally uses Velcro hook and loop fasteners to attach the roof to the substrate and is available in TPO and EPDM systems.
In just one day of 20-minute meetings I discovered these (and many other) very relevant solutions to real-world problems that can be shared internally at Conspectus and, in turn, recommended to our clients when appropriate. For me to attend for free the price was absolutely right, but I'm confident that the manufacturers footing the bill got great value as well.