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Anne Whitacre, FCSI CCS
Senior Member
Username: awhitacre

Post Number: 1062
Registered: 07-2002

Posted on Sunday, November 28, 2010 - 05:43 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

This is a very grumpy comment to the various manufacturers out there who may actually want their products specified: I've had two back to back deadlines lately for early phase sets of documents. As I've been compiling specification information to be included in the project manual, I've often had to get on to web sites to find basic product information -- such as flame spread ratings, sizes of panels, constituents of coatings and the like. and what do I have to wade through? pages and pages (on your web sites) of Green Junk Information.
One insulation web site took me 8 clicks (page throughs, looking) to find out the flame spread of the insulation system. I saw lots of information about how environmentally responsible your company is, but I needed an under 25 flame spread, if I couldn't find that information, you wouldn't get specified -- responsible or not.
I have a ceiling system selected by my clients, and again, I can't find the flame spread on the web site, nor can I find out what its actually made from, except that whatever it is, its recycled.
I have a coating that I'm trying to figure out for a specialized use... and there's no drying time in the product information or substrate prepartion information.
I could go on.

Sure... we call "care" about "green". One of my complaints with young staff is that in many cases, once they find out a product is "green" , they don't continue to find out if the product has basic criteria for their project. I'm experienced to read through all the GreenWash -- but it seems that in many cases, you've taken all the "real" information off your web sites. I'm trying to set a good example for my young clients, and apparently your marketing people have no idea what you actually do.

Can we regain some focus here, please?:
Steve Khouw LEED AP
Senior Member
Username: karsidi

Post Number: 12
Registered: 04-2008

Posted on Sunday, November 28, 2010 - 10:51 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Anne, we are grumpy too! Understanding the prevalence of LEED projects and the possibility of being specified why can't vendors produce cut sheets specifically outlining all the LEED compliance specs? Our internal material and furniture sourcer wastes her time just searching for these little gems of information critical for upload into the LOv3 compliance forms.

We come to a stance now that if they don't have cut sheets and we cannot easily (easily means 3 clicks or less) find the LEED conformance data on their website, they are not going to be specified. {period}
Harry Peck, CSI, CCS
Senior Member
Username: harryspec

Post Number: 10
Registered: 05-2010

Posted on Monday, November 29, 2010 - 07:20 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I feel your grumpyness. In the BC days (before computers) we would have catalogs in our office having some type of Technical Data Information. Currently on the web I find all types of eye popping pictures, pitches of how great a product is, how "friendly" something is, but hard to find technical information appropriate to preparing a good specification. I feel this is because manufacturers are having people trained in marketing rather than a knowledge of construction documents representing their products.
Sheldon Wolfe
Senior Member
Username: sheldon_wolfe

Post Number: 454
Registered: 01-2003

Posted on Monday, November 29, 2010 - 08:31 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

In their defense, companies market what sells. With the large number of "gotta be green or else" architects and the overwhelming need for LEED (wasn't that a movie?), they are responding to what they see as the most important market forces. That is, however, no excuse for forgetting about other product characteristics. Fortunately, at least in my experience, product reps, whose opening comments typically are LEED-related, will instantly move on when prompted. Many have told me they realize that green is not the only important aspect of their products, but their presentations have been changed to answer the most common questions, and specifiers are in the minority.
ken hercenberg
Senior Member
Username: khercenberg

Post Number: 73
Registered: 12-2006
Posted on Wednesday, December 01, 2010 - 10:00 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Right on Anne! I think I know which insulation manufacturer you speak of. Very frustrating especially because they do make good, green products. Perhaps we need to bring back the CSI ManuSpec format and require that in our product data 'Action' submittals. Think that might get the attention of the manufacturing community? I wonder how long it would take those sheets populate the websites we frequent. You're right Sheldon, specifiers are in the minority but we're not good people to upset, especially by manufacturers who want to get specified when we're on a deadline.

It would be interesting to see if it works.
AaronRosin (Unregistered Guest)
Unregistered guest
Posted on Friday, December 03, 2010 - 04:52 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

As a manufacturer, I'm continually passing along information to our IT folks to keep our site clean and simple so that specifiers can get in and get out with what they need.

I don't know if this is the appropriate forum, but I would love to get input on our site from anyone willing to do so. My website is www.blazeframe.com. My email is aaron@blazeframe.com.
Jim Sliff
Senior Member
Username: jim_sliff

Post Number: 11
Registered: 08-2010

Posted on Sunday, December 05, 2010 - 12:10 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Aaron - The site is missing the one thing Specifiers are looking for - Specifications. What you do have is exactly the type of content being negatively discussed - LEED info (and thqt's in the wrong place IMO), marketing stuff, pictures - but no Specs.

Your "Architects" tab (which might be a misnomer in itself, as not all Design Professionals or Spec Writers are architects...) has no LEED info and no Specifications. There's a Specifications selection but all it has are a few lines noting technical details. The LEED info is under the "Support" tab, when it should be in the same general area as the details and Specs.

I would guess no one at your company knows what "Specs" are or those in the know have no influence over the website content.

From my point of view - and I do specialized work that would not directly involve specifying your type of product, although I might need to refer to a section where it would be specified - the website content is completely useless to a Specifier. It would not get you specified unless the details were used in the design phase and the design team demanded that the Specifier include the product in the Specifications.

But a Specifier still couldn't write the Section using your website content. They'd have to find a rep and request a Guide Spec in CSI 3-part format following the Masterformat numbering system. And they're not going to be happy.

In other words, you're making it as hard as you possibly can for a Specifier to access useful information. If you read the posts above that's exactly the subject of this thread, and your site (I'm trying to be as kind as I can, really!) is an example of how NOT to be specified.

Since there's essentially no Specification content on the site it's possible nobody at your company understand Specifications. This website is strictly Specifier-based and has a tremendous number of references. I'd also suggest reviewing the CSI website as your other primary resource (as far as content and format) and order a Manual of Practice before you do anything else. That will teach you the basics - enough to put together "raw material"

But talk to Specifiers directly and ask them their needs - too often reps call on Specifiers and explain features and benefits of a product without ever finding out if it even applies to the type of work the Specifier does. "F" and "B" are "death words" in many cases and will get you a quick "thanks for coming by, I have a deadline..."

In person AND on your website explain a product's use and application - what it does, how it works with other products, how it's installed and by who. Then give the Specifier a disc or thumb drive with Guide Spec sections on it that include notes to the specifier explaining what parts of the Guide Spec are optional or need to be changed to meet certain circumstances.

That's what I was taught many years ago (when I was in the product rep world). My "mentor" makes periodic appearances on this forum and I think would agree that although the medium (electronic data distribution) has changed the essential presentation is the same - honestly it's simple to make an effective sales call on a Specifier, and it should be simple to find Specifications on a website.

From the home page two clicks is all it should take to find a well-described, correctly-numbered list of downloadable Guide Specs.

I hope that's helpful. It's very sparse information - I just wanted to hit the essential items and a little bit about content.
Lynn Javoroski CSI CCS LEEDŽ AP SCIP Affiliate
Senior Member
Username: lynn_javoroski

Post Number: 1162
Registered: 07-2002

Posted on Monday, December 06, 2010 - 10:14 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

This web site also has a "Manufacturer's Area" with helpful information. I suggest that you, and all manufacturers, read and learn.
John Bunzick, CCS, CCCA, LEED AP
Senior Member
Username: bunzick

Post Number: 1279
Registered: 03-2002
Posted on Wednesday, December 08, 2010 - 11:45 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I'm don't fully agree that this website is not useful to specifiers. I don't happen to care about manufacturer's specifications (i.e., three-part specs conforming to CSI's SectionFormat) because I use them extremely rarely. What I do care about is technical data: descriptive, performance, and industry-standards. The site does have this data, though it isn't fully collected in one location. Such a listing should also be very specific about the details of testing and standards as well. I could write a spec around this product from what is on the website, even though it may take a bit longer to do so than I'd like.
Wayne Yancey
Senior Member
Username: wayne_yancey

Post Number: 385
Registered: 01-2008

Posted on Wednesday, December 08, 2010 - 11:52 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I agree with John. I do not think the assessment above was fair and reasonable. I do not have problems with the website's format and content. It cannot be all things to all users. The products/systems offered are a cog in a wheel. A CSI 3-part spec is not required for this cog.
Anne Whitacre, FCSI CCS
Senior Member
Username: awhitacre

Post Number: 1075
Registered: 07-2002

Posted on Wednesday, December 08, 2010 - 12:08 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I agree with John and Wayne. I don't use manufacturer's specifications for basic products, and they are of little interest to me. (the only reason I might look at a manufacturer's spec is that a lot of information is collected in one place, which makes research easy -- but it doesn't have to be the only place) The technical data is the important part and I would probably call to ask what about the product doesn't comply with the typical ASTM standards that are used to specify steel studs. (so that I can make the exclusion in the specs). When I specify a proprietary system, I'm interested in what distinguishes that system from the other ones out there, but that's probably a phone call, not a printed brochure.
Jim Sliff
Senior Member
Username: jim_sliff

Post Number: 12
Registered: 08-2010

Posted on Wednesday, December 08, 2010 - 01:19 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Although it may seem self-contradictory, I don't disagree with the responses above - and I don't use manufacturer's guide specs in a cut-and-paste method myself.

But I do find that having those guide specs available provides a recognizable, quick-to-use reference when I need to integrate a product into my existing specs; even common products sometimes have one or two unique requirements that can be pitfalls if missed; with a manufacturer's guide spec I can find the *exceptions* quickly - and that's what I'm looking for with common products.

With more unusual/less-common products I feel guide specs are essential, period. With those usually comes some contact with the manufacturer as well - but with unusual products one of the first things I'll look at in a guide spec is "related sections". I can (usually) recognize fairly quickly what other changes may be necessary and how that product might affect other parts of an assembly - or the project as a whole.

I've seen enough seemingly-minor differences in common-product installation systems that I don't like to make assumptions - manufacturers' guide specs speed things up for me.
Ronald L. Geren, AIA, CSI, CCS, CCCA, SCIP
Senior Member
Username: specman

Post Number: 904
Registered: 03-2003

Posted on Wednesday, December 08, 2010 - 03:42 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Like those above I don't use manufacturer guide specifications "as is"; however, I do use them--as a guide only--to create a new section that is not in my master.

But, also like the others, I much prefer a well-developed product data sheet that provides the information essential for specifying.
AaronRosin (Unregistered Guest)
Unregistered guest
Posted on Wednesday, December 08, 2010 - 06:35 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Wayne, I love the illustration as being the "cog in a wheel". That's exactly what our product is. While it's certainly life-safety related, it is still a "cog".

I appreciate the straight-forward and honest comments ...just how it should be!

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