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Ralph Liebing
Senior Member
Username: rliebing

Post Number: 109
Registered: 02-2003
Posted on Monday, September 27, 2004 - 06:42 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Do you have vendors coming into your office to make presentations, to your staff, about their product lines?

Do you have a problem in that far too much of the time their presentations are given over to mudane, common-knowledge and largely irrelevant information [videos of fire tets, for example], and that they rush through their updates and "meaty" product information?

Do you find that AIA-approved sessions are too generalized, and really not informational?
Doug Frank FCSI CCS
Senior Member
Username: doug_frank_ccs

Post Number: 84
Registered: 06-2002
Posted on Monday, September 27, 2004 - 08:21 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I look at lunch-time presentations by vendors entirely as a learning experience for younger staff. While I attend most of them, they are nearly always way too general (entry level) to be of real benefit to me. When itís appropriate, I sit with the rep for 30 minutes or so after a presentation to get the real nitty gritty information I need.

I also believe that most vendors understand that at least half of the attendees at these deals are just there for the sandwich. They must realize though that itís important to make and maintain contact with the young folks since they will be the decision-makers in the future. Planting a seed early is a good idea and it does benefit the ďkidsĒ in that it exposes them to materials and systems with which they may not be familiar. Vendors that are active CSI members seem to understand this better.

AIA Approved presentations: Iíve seen really good ones and really bad ones (Iíve also seen some that could not possibly have been approved by AIA but theyíre being marketed as such).
Lynn Javoroski
Senior Member
Username: lynn_javoroski

Post Number: 151
Registered: 07-2002
Posted on Monday, September 27, 2004 - 11:34 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I'd have to agree with Doug - most of the time, the information is not new to me (although I've been surprised, too). It is an opportunity to get questions answered sometimes, however, when certain points are made. I've given up being disappointed with most AIA-tainted things.
Mitch Miller,AIA ,CSI,CCS
Senior Member
Username: m2architek

Post Number: 17
Registered: 02-2004
Posted on Monday, September 27, 2004 - 12:00 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I utilize the lunch box presentation time as a brush-up. I think it foolish to believe that you dont have anything to learn. Learning is a life-long process. That said, there are times that the presentations are just horriffic. They dwell on how many square feet of production they have, or how many years in business, or how many employees, etc. While those things are important to know so you arent dealing with "Joe and Mom's" manufacturing, please do NOT dwell on them. Tell me where NOT to use your product and its' limitations. Tell me who you viable cometition is. Tell me the oroperties that make your product perform well. And dont, DO NOT bad-mouth the competition.
Bonnie Boudreaux, CCS (Unregistered Guest)
Unregistered guest
Posted on Monday, September 27, 2004 - 03:18 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

To respond to the issue of allowing the junior staff to become more familiar with materials, it seems that in too many cases the junior staff have not gained the experience yet to cut through the non relivent information to make an assesment of the applicability of the material. Then when the more Specific question is asked that would allow the presenter to be more informative, the junior staff do not understand why the need to be more specific. Also, when we've had very good technical presentations that do not offer AIA units, some will not attend. SO IT SEEMS - TAKE THE GOOD WITH THE NOT SO GOOD.
John Bunzick, CCS, CCCA
Senior Member
Username: bunzick

Post Number: 266
Registered: 03-2002
Posted on Tuesday, September 28, 2004 - 09:15 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I always ask for a "syllabus" before hand. I then will ask for modifications if necessary, and explain what I think should be emphasized or not. This does not necessarily avoid all of the bad presentations, but I think it helps in many instances.
J. Peter Jordan
Senior Member
Username: jpjordan

Post Number: 14
Registered: 05-2004
Posted on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - 01:20 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I have recently had an experience with a vendor presentation where the presentation materials were OK (and I tend to agree with most of the other postings about the level), but the person doing the presentation did not know the product/system. While the scripted presentation was adequate, any deviations from the script (any questions asked) were very poor. This is an AIA-approved presentation, but the presenter's knowledge of the product/system is so poor that the usefulness of the presentation can be questioned.

I am not opposed to having a non-AIA vendor presentation in some cases. This would be limited to products that are genuinely unique or new, mostly having to do with highly specialized work.

Our firm does "Rep Roundup" once a quarter (as do some other firms) where we invite 4 to 6 reps to bring "wine and cheese" and have a table-top with an opportunity to meet the staff and show their stuff. We have them for an hour right after work so people can come in for 10 or 15 minutes before leaving for home. It is most effective with the vendors when we have several designers and one or two of the principals stop in. We have pretty good attendance, and I think most vendors have been pleased with the opportunity to meet people.
Phil Kabza
Senior Member
Username: phil_kabza

Post Number: 64
Registered: 12-2002
Posted on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - 06:19 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

With all AIA/CES programs, it's important to review the complete program content ahead of time. We insist on seeing a copy, and occasionally tell manufacturers No Thanks when we see their logos and pictures of their plants all over the slides.

I love the Rep Roundup idea, especially the wine and cheese, though as with the presentations, it would be important to make sure they didn't think that CheezeWhiz and Two-Buck Chuck would do.
Joanne Rodriguez, CSI, CDT, LEED AP
New member
Username: joanne

Post Number: 1
Registered: 09-2004
Posted on Thursday, September 30, 2004 - 10:11 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I feel rather confident in joing this conversation as I have given numerous presentations over several years. There is a void in training in many companies which place reps out in the field without a net in order to satisfy many firms request for the "box lunch." It seems that over the years the emphasis has been placed so much on the "lunch and learn" that we have truly forgotton the purpose of our joint mission: advancing the construction industry. I see this advancement coming through quality specification support and solutions to design problems.

I have talked with firms who have taken several different approaches to lunches. One of the best being a project based program--presenting manufacturers who offer solutions to their current project problems. For me, if I know that I am contributing to the design solutions it will help to gear my program from a broader approach to a more directed solution.

Over the years we have been more successful in presenting "Knowledge Seminars" which have a general theme--green technologies for instance. We host these seminars, usually 2-4 hours, in off-site locations from the firms and invite several firms from around the area. I have encouraged our representatives to hold these in the morning because it is easier to keep our audience, as opposed to losing half or our RSVP's due to project deadlines.

Lunches are a necessary evil to promote education and foster relationship building. I would encourage all of you to challenge the manufacturers you work with to step up their quality, lose the product pitch and brush up their presentation skills. And I would challenge you to be more specific about your needs. If you want general AIA HS&W LU information it will be rather general. If however you want more in-depth information about products and systems specifically--self-report and earn those valuable HS&W units through other programs. It is hard to do it both ways.
J. Peter Jordan
Senior Member
Username: jpjordan

Post Number: 16
Registered: 05-2004
Posted on Thursday, September 30, 2004 - 10:46 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

We usually do not have the problem of vendors' skimping on the wine and cheese format; in fact, they have tended to go somewhat overboard. Each one is assigned to bring something so we often have several bottles of wine (red and white), cheese, crackers (of various sorts), finger sandwiches, and a dessert tray. On a "per contact" basis, it is much less expensive than a box lunch for the same number. We usually have not more than 20 -25 people milling around (sometime as little as 15) and several will not imbibe if they have a way to go. We usually have quite a bit left over.

I really like more tailored presentations at box lunches, but it is impractical to get the vendor's company to get AIA imprimatur on each presentation. At a previoius company, we had our own AIA number and would put some "box lunches" under our number where we thought the information was worth the effort. We reviewed the presentation before hand (since we were the one submitting it), but usually allowed the presentor a little more lattitude. The more specific product information was usually more useful.
Phil Kabza
Senior Member
Username: phil_kabza

Post Number: 65
Registered: 12-2002
Posted on Thursday, September 30, 2004 - 05:53 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

It is a common misunderstanding that the AIA/CES office reviews every provider's programs. Once the provider's initial program and the provider's proposed administration plan is approved by the AIA/CES, the provider is able to self-register most programs. Many providers wisely ask for AIA/CES review of all programs, though. Distance Education programs are treated separately by AIA/CES and must always be reviewed before being offered.

It is interesting to note that a major national building product manufacturer recently had their provider status suspended due to the proprietary content of their programs. Having seen the programs in question, I was not surprised. Their representatives said they had never received training in AIA/CES requirements. Those requirements are not made up by AIA/CES; they are the result of the rules for continuing education set down by state architecture licensing boards.

Some manufacturers are taking this program quite seriously, though, and we are seeing an increase in program quality as well as an improvement in the support that these leading manufacturers are providing to our design teams.
Ann G. Baker, RA, CSI, CCS, CCCA (Unregistered Guest)
Unregistered guest
Posted on Tuesday, October 05, 2004 - 08:34 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Late to this discussion yet again, I'd still like to add my two cents.

First, I find the majority of lunch presentations valuable. Probably not the same sort of intense education opportunity as a half-day or day long seminar where the focus truly is the opportunity and not the sandwich, but nevertheless valuable.

Second, I do indeed think that younger members of the firm should be encouraged to go to some of the presentations, on the theory that if you throw enough mud some will stick. One day they'll be asking deeper questions, but now they need baby steps.

Third, and this is a question for y'all that do these presentations, what happens to very small firms that can't give you the critical mass you need for a lunch presentation? Until a couple of weeks ago I was a one-person specifications consultant, basically "locked out" of these opportunities for continuing education. Here in Colorado there is in fact the Rocky Mountain Masonry Institute that has "lunch and learn" sessions open to anyone who can attend (and they're free), but there's a bit more to a Project Manual than masonry. When I lived in San Antonio, vendors would call small practitioners (with permssion of the "host firm", of course) and invite them to lunch presentations. I also see one post that indicates off-site seminars where (the way I read it, anyway) more than one firm is invited to attend, but how does the sole practitioner avail herself/himself of this opportunity? Any suggestions? After all, those of us who practice in broom-closet-sized offices need the information, and don't necessarily have the training budget to take advantage of the great seminars that all of our CSI chapters provide throughout the year.
Ronald L. Geren, RA, CSI, CCS, CCCA
Senior Member
Username: specman

Post Number: 63
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Wednesday, October 06, 2004 - 11:39 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Ann:

In the Phoenix metro area we're fortunate to have an organization called The Reference Library. Supported primarily by a membership of construction product manufacturers, they provide local architects and specifiers with product catalogs and technical references in a single, centrally located, building (a huge plus for those sole practitioners who don't have the space or money). And, on every Wednesday they have a box lunch presentation free of charge.

I'm not saying that you should start a Reference Library, but a similar lunch program could be initiated by your local CSI chapter through their education committee. This would be a great opportunity to showcase CSI and its benefits.
Mitch Miller,AIA ,CSI,CCS
Senior Member
Username: m2architek

Post Number: 18
Registered: 02-2004
Posted on Wednesday, October 06, 2004 - 11:52 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Rons sharing of the Reference Library is such a wonderful idea. Why not do something like this in every major city? I think it is time for the vendors to cooperate in ringing excellent technical information to the table,instead of bashing others. That is not to say that everyone bashes the cometition, but it does go on out there. The Reference Library allows thise small practitioners to avail themselves to the same technical information that others in large frims have at their access.. Additionally the internet is such a valuable resource today, available to all that have a computer on their desk.
Ronald L. Geren, RA, CSI, CCS, CCCA
Senior Member
Username: specman

Post Number: 64
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Wednesday, October 06, 2004 - 11:57 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

For those interested, The Reference Library has a website: http://www.thereferencelibrary.com
Joanne Rodriguez, CSI, CDT, LEED AP
Junior Member
Username: joanne

Post Number: 2
Registered: 09-2004
Posted on Thursday, October 07, 2004 - 10:20 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Ann: As long as I have people who are willing to listen and participate, and who make decisions regarding design and specifications, I am willing to present. I have held programs for 2 people before. I would prefer quality over quantity anyday.

While I understand the need to have continued learing at the "junior" levels, many manufacturers have a need for continued "earning" which will eventually call for some senior personnel and maybe even a principal or two. If every lunch is CAD and junior staff you will see lunches taper off.

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