Saint-Gobain’s Expert “Throw Down” at the AIA 2012 Convention and Design Expo

 
 
The excitement for this year’s American Institute of Architects (AIA) Convention and Design Expo is growing for Saint-Gobain and its family of businesses! We will be heading down to the nation’s capital from May 17 – 19 to help architects and designers solve problems they are having on specific projects and introduce them to the expertise within Saint-Gobain.

You might ask yourself—who is Saint-Gobain and what do they have to do with CertainTeed?  Well, Saint-Gobain is CertainTeed’s parent company and also the largest building materials company in the world.

You already know Saint-Gobain, it may not be that obvious though—our roots start in France where 350 years ago, we made the glass that adorns the Hall of Mirrors in Versalles.  Today, we make beer bottles for Budweiser, manufactured the new roof on the Dallas Cowboys stadium and through CertainTeed, manufactured the ceiling tiles in the Denver airport and made the roof that adorns Henry Ford’s home.  This is a mere, and I mean mere glimpse into this massive company, but, also a glimpse into the possibilities.

That’s why Saint-Gobain is bringing all of its businesses to the AIA show this week, and not just to show off products.  Saint-Gobain features the largest and smartest collection of building scientists and technical experts in North America from its trusted North American companies:  CertainTeed, ADFORS, Grenite, Norton, SAGE, Saint-Gobain Glass, Saint-Gobain Solar, Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics and SolarGard to help architects “solve the unsolvable problem.” We urge design professionals to bring your unsolvable problems to our booth and try to stump out experts!

This year, we’re talking moisture, indoor environmental quality, aesthetics, thermal efficiency and solar and our experts are ready to talk.  If you can’t make the show, check us out virtually Trade Show page that will share show updates through Twitter so that non-attendees can feel part of the action.  Through this page you can also ask questions or present unsolvable problems that our experts can tackle. If you submit an unsolvable problem you will be entered into a prize drawing.

During AIA 2012, we will be blogging here about show events and observations from guest bloggers.  Should be fun and entertaining!

Please join the conversation at AIA from your desk by bookmarking the Trade Show page. We want to help you feel part of the AIA Convention and to help solve your design challenges.

Building Hope for the Future with Habitat for Humanity

We all know that homeownership is considered the cornerstone of the American dream.  But many of us take that dream for granted.  I was reminded of this when I attended the dedication and blessing of a home with Habitat for Humanity in Chester, Pennsylvania outside of Philadelphia.

As a corporate sponsor of what we have come to refer to as the “CertainTeed House” because of the many CertainTeed products incorporated into the building envelop of this two-family house, I participated in the dedication and blessing of the house.  The family, a single mother with two daughters who will occupy half of the house, seemed simultaneously overwhelmed and excited.

The group of family, friends, sponsors and supporters clustered into what would soon be the family’s living room as the Reverend began the dedication and blessing.  The group traveled from room to room with the family carrying a candle as each area was given a special blessing – from the kitchen where nourishment is prepared to the dining room where bread is broken and shared to the bedrooms where sleeping safe and secure is desired.  Once the blessing was completed, the keys were presented to the family marking the final transformation of this building from simply a house into a home.

It was beautiful!

But there was an added sense of pride that I felt standing in this completed house that would be the dream home for this family. Over ten weeks during the building of this house approximately 80 of my co-workers volunteered time on the site to help with the build.  The opportunity to gain hands-on experience with CertainTeed roofing shingles, housewrap, vinyl siding and railing, insulation and gypsum products was as valuable as the satisfaction of giving back to the community in this very special way.  In some cases it brought employees together whose paths would not cross at work and in other cases departmental teams used this as a teambuilding exercise.

In the end, it was a learning experience for all and a lesson in community that has no equal.

The NAHB International Builders’ Show (IBS) 2012 Reflects the State of the Building Industry

Lucas Hamilton

Lucas Hamilton is Manager, Building Science Applications for CertainTeed Corporation

IBS 2012 is history!  Like all trade shows each attendee comes away with their own interpretation of how it was based on their reason for being there.  From the manufacturer perspective it was clear that attendees who came to our booth were looking for specific products or information.  They were not just window shopping. 

Anyone coming to a show like this in this economic climate was not just there killing time and spending money – they were engaged! And the folks I spoke to had very specific questions and were very interested in learning all that they could while there.

One interesting thing that I saw in the Show Village was –what I would call – an urban infill home.  It was a modular home that was narrow and would fit into a narrow lot.  This was a unique style for a modular treatment.  One of the interesting features in the design was a screened-in porch/deck that included screen under the decking to keep mosquitoes out.  Great idea especially in warm, moist climates!

There were many celebrities there such as Mike Holmes, Bob Vila, Vanilla Ice and Bronson Pinchot promoting their DIY Network shows. Radio talk shows taping for their audiences back home were out in force.

I had a chance to catch up with my friends from This Old House – Norm Abrams and Tommy Silva.  I just have to say that Norm knows more about wood than anyone I have ever met.  We had a great conversation about the difference between western red cedar and eastern white cedar and how you want to use them.  Great stuff!

We also talked about the lack of paints with low volatile organic compounds (VOCs) especially in colors.  It led to an interesting discussion about our VOC scavenging gypsum product.

There seemed to be a large number of Brazilians and South Americans at the show this year.  It is not surprising since the economy in Brazil is very strong and building seems to be on the rise.  It has clearly become an international show.

Clearly we have seen changes at IBS but we remain hopeful for a return to the glory days!

The NAHB International Builders’ Show – A Constant in a Changing Landscape

Mike Loughery

Mike Loughery is Director, Corporate Marketing Communications for CertainTeed Corporation

Here we are once again, heading to the International Builders’ Show in Orlando, Florida.  In the days of the housing boom, you could get a feel for the attendance and enthusiasm by how packed the plane was and the fact that it was filled with builders and contractors.

The past few years have been tough though.  Attendance, which once peaked in the low one-hundred thousands, was a mere shadow of itself a year ago with about 47,000 walking through the turnstiles. 

What will this year hold?  Well, I’m sitting on the plane.  It’s packed and a good number of the folks seem to be in the building trades (albeit for the few families headed you know where!).  Enthusiasm?  Well, not sure yet on that one.  But I know that tomorrow I will enter the hall, see all the displays, and hear the buzz of business taking place.  There is nothing as gratifying as spending four days talking with the trades about the latest products and innovations in the marketplace. 

The temptation for some might be to shrink away and not exhibit.  However, we all have businesses to run and CertainTeed representatives find talking to an engaged audience, whether it’s 50,000 or 100,000 an excellent opportunity to showcase some of the industry’s most innovative new products.  Products that improve indoor environmental quality, energy efficiency, comfort and aesthetics will be showcased as well as our team of building scientists will be available at booth W4051 to answer your most challenging questions.

Feel like swinging a hammer or learning from our experts?  We have product installation demos going on outside in P3, showcasing blowing and spray foam insulation, decking, siding and solar roofing

Can’t make it to the show this year?  Well, you can still be part of the action through a special webpage dedicated to the IBS show which will have a live Twitter feed that you can follow.  You may want to bookmark www.certainteed.com/ibs  so you can refer to it over the next few days.

If you’re in Orlando this week, stop by and say hi.  Let us know how things are going for you in your market.

Tips to Boost Contractor Leads Using Twitter

Monica Brogan is Manager, Sales Support for CertainTeed Corporation

If you don’t have a Twitter account, stop what you’re doing, go to www.twitter.com, and create one.  Why?

According to the State of the Twittersphere report, each day five to 10 thousand new people join Twitter. Millions of users tweet daily. That’s a lot of opportunity!

For building professionals, this is another way to find customers, share information and best practices with other professionals, and expand your circle of influence.  It is just as important today to engage is social media as it is to a have website.  It is a part of doing business in the 21st century. I have included some examples of how Twitter can help you.  You can:

  • Create a “following” of people who are interested in what you are saying
  • Search for people who are searching for you.
    • Use the Twitter Search and enter phrases and keywords people would use to find you and your business.
    • Then, comment on their Tweets or send them an email when available. This will help you build a following quickly
  • Boost contractor leads and customers by staying in constant contact with your target audience.

Tips on the effective use of Tweets:

  • Post real-time updates so you can keep your followers informed.
  • Write strong Headlines – Short and Sweet – “What’s in this for me?”
  • Tweets with a link are more likely to be re-tweeted. 
  • Share how-to information, newsworthy events and tips, promotions.
  • Use the 90/10 rule.  90 percent of the time tweet useful information and resources, the remaining 10% tweet surveys and questions.
  • Day of the week and time of day matter – Monday to Wednesday were the days with the most re-tweets and tweets posted between 9:00 am and 6:00 pm had a higher volume of re-tweets.
  • Comment on blogs of your followers. They will likely follow you back and leave a comment for you.
  • Comment back as much as possible. This establishes a relationship and will lead to repeat visits.

In today’s world of social media marketing, Twitter should be one of the tools every contractor is using to build their business.  

If you are using Twitter as part of your sales strategy, I would love to hear how it is going.

Remembering Joplin, Missouri This Memorial Day

Aftermath of Joplin tornado

Aftermath of Joplin tornado

As we prepare for Memorial Day to honor those who have served their country and given their lives for our safety and well-being let us also remember the families in Joplin, Missouri who suffered a fierce attack from nature and are facing such trying times.

This disaster hits home because our fellow employees at CertainTeed’s plant in Joplin, as well as their families, are facing that rebuilding right now.

What I find interesting is the role that social media played in sharing information about the situation which jumpstarted a company-wide effort to begin a relief supply collection program. One of our employees in Claremont, NC posted a message on Facebook on Sunday night after hearing from one of her colleagues about the tornado in Joplin. Fellow employees on Facebook saw the post and the viral communication started to spread. Within 48 hours, following a message from our president and CEO, all of our sister plants, both CertainTeed and Saint-Gobain throughout North America, were starting relief collection campaigns. I was amazed at how quickly we responded and the outpouring of support shown by our employees during this week. The human spirit is a wonderful thing and is alive and well.

The images of Joplin shared by our colleagues are similar to those of a war zone. People are still missing, lives and properties have been destroyed, and now the residents are faced with trying to rebuild their lives from the rubble that now holds their memories. While we can provide food, clothing and shelter for those affected by this disaster we cannot erase the sights and sounds that will haunt them forever.

We can never be totally prepared for a life changing event, whether it is a war, a terror attack, or a natural disaster; and we can never really comprehend the impact unless we have gone through it ourselves.

This Memorial Day, pray for all of our fellow Americans who have lost their lives to war, terrorism or natural disaster and remember the saying attributed to evangelical preacher and martyr John Bradford, “There but for the grace of God, go I.”

Skill and Life Training are Part of the YouthBuild USA Experience

Little did I know that when I accepted the invitation to participate in theYouthBuild USA sponsorship launch in Worcester, Massachusetts that I would actually be put to work! 

My first professional job when I finished college was in Worcester and it was nice to return, especially to take part in an event bringing student skills training and neighborhood rebuilding together.

CertainTeed’s parent company Saint-Gobain recently launched a three-year partnership to support YouthBuild USA projects in Philadelphia, PA; Worcester, MA; Schenectady, NY and Akron, OH. The sponsorship is not just financial but includes product donations, technical expertise and training.

While it is always nice to be part of a check presentation supporting an organization providing valuable service and training to youth, this particular event brought in a new and personally gratifying dimension for me – the opportunity to work along side the teachers and the students from YouthBuild.

I was assigned to a team installing a CertainTeed Evernew® deck and railing on the back portion of the building. Other groups were working on installing CertaWrap™ house wrap and our Weatherboards™ fiber cement siding product.

I don’t usually have the opportunity to get ‘hands on’ with building materials and had forgotten how important math skills and teamwork are in the building trades.  The YouthBuild teacher would ask the students questions about the measurements and checking on the accuracy before cutting product. It was obvious this had recently been part of the classroom instruction for these apprentices.

I also realized that what makes YouthBuild special is that not just the teaching of building skills but the development of life skills that these students experience by showing up every day.  For example, the importance of listening to the instructor or foreman on a worksite, the attention to detail, applying knowledge learned, working well with others, the commitment to completing the job, and the pride in seeing the finished product.

We should all be reminded of the value in an honest day’s work.  I could see it in the accomplishments of these students in Worcester.

Eric Nilsson

Eric Nilsson is Vice President, Corporate Marketing for CertainTeed Corporation

JLC Live Residential Construction Show Stuns with Volume of Exhibitors and Attendees

Myron Ferguson clinic on drywall finishing

Why on a sunny, cool, dry, Rhode Island day would nearly 6,000 residential construction professionals from all over New England – and beyond – take a couple of days off, after the most brutal winter in New England history, to attend a trade show?

Why would manufacturers from all over the country flock to Providence, Rhode Island to exhibit at this trade event and why is there a higher demand for exhibit space at this show than the capacity to exhibit?

Why is this show one of the few trade events in the last three for four years to have growth as a problem?

Why? Because JLC Live, presented by The Journal of Light Construction, Remodeling, and Tools of the Trade magazines published by Hanley Wood delivers one of the highest trade show values – pound for pound, dollar for dollar – in the industry!

This show’s attendance increased by nearly 10 percent from 2010 to 2011 and the exhibitor participation increased by 15 percent.  This is extraordinary in a down economy!

Today, building technology is changing at a rapid rate. The beauty of JLC Live is the marriage of the practical side with the science/theory side attracting installers, applicators and remodelers who are eager not only to see the latest products but who want to see the science/theory and best practice applications in action by attending hands-on clinics.

Two examples of the show’s clinics supported by CertainTeed (both packed) were:

  • Drywall Trade Secrets – Gypsum drywall finishing clinic conducted by Myron Ferguson, Building Specialist, demonstrating best practices of drywall installation and finishing using a new gypsum product, AirRenew™ that removes volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) from the air improving the indoor air quality.
  • Home Performance SolutionsBill Robinson, Building Specialist discussed the opportunities of bringing energy efficiency to older homes.  The retrofit market will continue to grow as homeowners seek to improve the efficiencies of their building envelop. It is expected that, over the coming years, the remodeling market will grow by an annual rate of 3.5 percent.

From CertainTeed’s perspective, the benefit of an event like this is that the attendees are so excited by what they see and learn they will leave the event and go out and buy building products.  The impact is that quick.  In this economy the construction industry is a highly competitive place. Contractors and remodelers knowing they need to differentiate themselves waste no time in adding new ‘tools’ to their toolbox.

At a time when we are not ‘out of the woods’ as an industry,  it is obvious that building professionals find this show a significant value proposition making it well worth their time and resources.

If you were at JLC Live, let me know what you thought of the event.

 

Eric Nilsson

Eric Nilsson is Vice President, Corporate Marketing for CertainTeed Corporation

Get “Social” with Potential Customers

Matt Gibson

Social media provides the contractor of today with highly effective ways to increase name recognition and reach potential customers. Increasingly, consumers look to the internet not to the Yellow Pages to find solutions for their building and remodeling needs. For example, someone looking for a roofer is likely to do a Google or Bing search to find contractors in their area.  Contractors will want to make sure they are easily found by these search engines.  Company websites are still important to establish visibility on the web, but more and more consumers are using social media to share opinions and experiences – including pros and cons about vendors who are working on their homes.

When CertainTeed decided to engage in social media we were not sure if we could be successful but it has enabled us to engage in conversations and respond to the marketplace using vehicles that our customers and potential customers are using.

Sites such as Facebook and Twitter allow contractors to:

  • Establish an identity, talk about their services, gain fans, and increase name recognition. 
  • Status updates and tweets provide an opportunity to spread messages about recent projects, services, and offers. 
  • Profile pages give contractors a means of explaining what sets their business apart and allows people to endorse the company by becoming “Fans” or indicating that they “Like” the business. 

When someone indicates that they “Like” a certain business on Facebook, for example, it appears on their profile page.  Anyone who has access to that page sees the name of the business.  “Friends” or “Fans” of a business are making a public declaration of support and respect for that business and the services they provide.

Posting videos to You Tube can give the recognition of a television commercial.  Contractors can easily upload their own videos, which can be e-mailed or shared on social media sites.    Video cameras such as Flip give great resolution and high quality sound for an extremely reasonable price.  Videos provide an opportunity to show services, successes, and distinctions in a variety of ways.  A contractor can post satisfied client interviews, before and after shots of jobs, product cleaning and care instructions, minor repair advice, step-by-step guides of what to expect in the remodeling process, how to assess damage caused by hailstorms, and more.

It is easier than ever for a contractor to engage with potential customers in a medium that they prefer. Utilizing social media tools sets a contractor apart from his peers and gives the exposure necessary to compete in today’s business world.

Matt Gibson is Manager, Contractor Programs for CertainTeed Siding Products Group

Driving the Digital Revolution is Sustainable

Have you ever been on a jobsite and realized that installation documentation is missing?  If you have access to a computer and WiFi, you can go to the Internet and hopefully find the documents. If not, you may be out of luck – unless you have a smartphone!

The next wave of technology for the building industry includes Quick Response (QR) mobile apps.  These barcodes will help architects, contractors, distributors and consumers get quick, easy and paperless access to websites, products and technical information via their phones.

CertainTeed created a QR reader for Blackberry, iPhone and Droid smartphones that can be downloaded onto the phone from the apps store for each of these Smartphones.  All you need to do is point your phone camera to the 2-D QR barcode, scan the code and you will be connected to CertainTeed information that code refers to, such as technical documentation or product sheets. If you have one of these phones you can download the CertainTeed QR reader by going to your app store or going to certainteed.com/qr.  Simply download and zap the QR code on this page to learn more about CertainTeed.

This technology is being used in many places including retailers, airports and even non-profit organizations as a way to make donations to your favorite cause.

The best part about QR codes is that the technology helps to cut down on the use of printed material while providing the viewer with a much richer experience when accessing company information.   As a company committed to innovation and sustainability, this is another notch in our environmental responsibility tool belt!

We introduced our QR code at the GreenBuild Conference and Expo in November and the response was great.  Visitors to our booth could download our CertainTeed QR reader and zap a code to register for an iPad.  They were also able to zap codes to view videos of our newest innovative products and go to our website.

Once we started looking at this technology, we discovered that the possibilities for its use are endless, so stay tuned to see how we utilize QR codes in 2011.   We’re seeing them in really cool places like Best Buy.  Do you think they have a practical application in the building industry?  What are your favorite apps?   

Mike Loughery is Director, Corporate Marketing Communications at CertainTeed Corporation.