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David G. Axt, CCS, CSI ,SCIP
Senior Member
Username: david_axt

Post Number: 1887
Registered: 03-2002


Posted on Monday, September 13, 2021 - 02:28 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I used to heavily rely on local building product representatives to help write specifications and educate me. I found their knowledge of their products/materials and the industry extremely valuable. Sometimes I would have these representatives review my specifications.

Now it seems those days are long gone. Older more experienced representatives have retired, died, or moved into another industry. Most of the representatives now are inexperienced and do not really know their products or the industry. Many companies no longer have representatives.

It is more challenging to write good specifications without these knowledgeable people.

What has been your experience?
David G. Axt, CCS, CSI, SCIP
Specifications Consultant
Axt Consulting LLC
Nathan Woods, CSI, CCCA, LEED AP
Senior Member
Username: nwoods

Post Number: 846
Registered: 08-2005


Posted on Monday, September 13, 2021 - 03:06 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

A little of that, but not too bad. Honestly, maybe I am just very fortunate, but the southwest region here in Southern California has top notch representation in the majority of products I specify, and I rely on my reps quite a lot.
ken hercenberg
Senior Member
Username: khercenberg

Post Number: 1409
Registered: 12-2006


Posted on Monday, September 13, 2021 - 04:55 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Still able to track down reps for many products but certainly fewer than in the past. Thankful that there are those in my old stomping grounds still willing to take my calls when I can't find my own local rep. I am also finding that some manufacturers are providing access to technical people if I am able to track them down and don't mind waiting a day or two for answers. I'm relying more on my Arc-US, CSI MSR, and Opal SpArc contacts so I am very grateful that those venues are still viable.
Brian E. Trimble, CDT
Senior Member
Username: brian_e_trimble_cdt

Post Number: 128
Registered: 08-2005


Posted on Monday, September 13, 2021 - 05:45 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

There are definitely a lot less of them than in the past. And since there has been a lot of consolidation in each industry, companies have eliminated some of the duplication. Finally, some companies have decided they could rely on websites that contain technical information and don't need to have that personal touch. Too bad, because that's how a lot of us do business.
James Sandoz, AIA, CSI, CCS
Senior Member
Username: jsandoz

Post Number: 328
Registered: 06-2005
Posted on Wednesday, September 15, 2021 - 08:55 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Ken, when I do talk to a technical representative I find them to be very helpful. Yes, they have other things to do but usually get back to me within a day or two. It's not their fault (or even mine) that everyone seems to need crucial information "yesterday" if you get my drift.

Brian, you've pinpointed a looming problem with manufacturers relying on their web sites. There is no way a web site can contain information that is always helpful for some particular condition. That is where a one-on-one conversation with someone who knows his or her product is mandatory whether that person is local or across the country.
David G. Axt, CCS, CSI ,SCIP
Senior Member
Username: david_axt

Post Number: 1889
Registered: 03-2002


Posted on Wednesday, September 15, 2021 - 02:24 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

A little over 9 months ago there was a local building product representative, for a major paint manufacturer, that just disappeared. She stopped returning emails and her phone could not take any more messages.

I finally called the previous representative, who was retired, to ask him about the whereabouts of the representative. The old representative did not know but gave me the phone number of his boss in the Midwest (I'm on the West Coast).

I called the boss and he said the representative was out on medical leave. I asked if the company had plans to replace her either permanently or temporarily. He said no. I asked him when she would be back. He said that he did not know.

I feel sorry for the representative and hope she heals quickly but think it is irresponsible for the paint company not to find a subsitute. This is especially true for paint products which are complex.

So I am switching my specifications over to another paint company and/or using MPI numbers.
David G. Axt, CCS, CSI, SCIP
Specifications Consultant
Axt Consulting LLC
Melissa J Aguiar
Senior Member
Username: melissajaguiar

Post Number: 14
Registered: 09-2015
Posted on Wednesday, September 15, 2021 - 02:59 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

David,
I transferred to MPI numbers a couple of years ago. I thought it would be of help as well. I will still get questions on what is MPI, and what products do I want to use (even though it is clearly stated). I loved the days when I could state a BOD. Every project is a rainbow. Ask anyone whom has ever worked on CA. :-)
James Sandoz, AIA, CSI, CCS
Senior Member
Username: jsandoz

Post Number: 329
Registered: 06-2005
Posted on Wednesday, September 15, 2021 - 03:00 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

David, I would find your experience with the paint company difficult to believe except something similar happened to me. What are these companies thinking?

I'm in the process, along with two other specification writers in my firm, of preparing a presentation for the less experienced employees about what is required from the project team members to give to the specification writer so he or she can prepare a specification. Obviously, that would be good information about the products selected. Where else is that inexperienced intern or architect going to obtain that information, to a useful degree, besides from a knowledgeable product representative.

Unless some think I am trying to get others to do my job, my job is not product selection for a particular project although I am willing to assist. I do not design or make selections (been there, done that). I specify what has been selected and I believe I am fulfilling my obligation as a professional to educate the next generation in what they need to know and how they can get that knowledge. I will retire someday after all and there is a lottery drawing this evening. :-)
Robert Hale (Unregistered Guest)
Unregistered guest
Posted on Friday, October 01, 2021 - 12:14 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I am a regional manager for Evonik. I know David and would like to ask a few questions of you folks. I am currently having trouble finding local reps in areas that I have older reps retiring. I like the technical line idea and would be interested in feedback on your experience with such a system? Also, honestly, would you open a cold call email of introduction? This is definitely a problem for the manufacturers as well and together maybe we can find a better solution.
ken hercenberg
Senior Member
Username: khercenberg

Post Number: 1415
Registered: 12-2006


Posted on Friday, October 01, 2021 - 12:51 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Robert, having enjoyed a great relationship with the rep who introduced me to Evonik in the DC Metro area many years ago I am still specifying your products when needed. I appreciate having local reps in the Charlotte area that are knowledgeable and on whom I can rely.

Other than reps with whom I have a relationship, this website is my daily link to manufacturers. I don't know what I would do without Colin and 4specs.com.

Frankly I sometimes glance at cold call emails but more-often-than-not they end up deleted or ignored. The best way to get to me are through local, regional, and national CSI events and, even better, via CSI MSR, Arc-US, and Opal SpArc since those are the only times I am able to set aside time to sit down and talk about products.

Finding good reps isn't easy. Networking at CSI events and the other venues I listed may be the best way to meet people in the industry who can share their experiences and possibly help you meet the people you want to hire. I would consider going to University job fairs and talk with design and CM students. You may be surprised to find some hidden gems out there.
Jon Buss (Unregistered Guest)
Unregistered guest
Posted on Friday, October 01, 2021 - 08:01 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Our company is new to the door hardware industry. www.RestroomLock.com

We've redesigned the conventional grip and twist door handle and finding reps hasn't been easy. As noted in other comments, the few reps that are still actively connecting manufacturers with specifiers are not looking for more lines to add. With all the Covid restrictions for travel and outside sales activities, it seems 2020 was a terrible time to introduce a new product. How do companies locate specifiers directly?
John Bunzick
Senior Member
Username: bunzick

Post Number: 1864
Registered: 03-2002
Posted on Saturday, October 02, 2021 - 01:30 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Do you think the power of video conferencing and "well-stocked" websites, combined with super-knowledgeable reps located anywhere, could provide a higher level of service than is now provided? Would manufacturers actually embrace that?
Rosa Cheney
Senior Member
Username: rdcaia

Post Number: 23
Registered: 07-2018
Posted on Saturday, October 02, 2021 - 03:10 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

John, Yes, I could imagine something like that working. But it needs to be quick and immediate, like calling up your local rep.

For instance, I could see the 'chat' feature that pops up on some websites as being a super-useful and super-convenient way to reach a technical representative...on-demand. It seems easy for a manufacturer to make something like that happen, but I have a hard time imagining that the actual execution would be any different than calling up a mfr and trying to get a hold of a technical person...i.e., hit or miss.

Other than the fact that the local rep is the de-facto person to reach if you have a question, I think the only other thing we lose if we move to virtual reps is being able to hold and look at samples while the rep talks. During Covid, we've had tech reps send boxes of samples ahead of a virtual meeting, and it's a fairly close equivalent to talking in person, but it's not 100% the same.
Nathan Woods, CSI, CCCA, LEED AP
Senior Member
Username: nwoods

Post Number: 847
Registered: 08-2005


Posted on Monday, October 04, 2021 - 11:49 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Jon Buss, for your product, in California specifically, you would need to start with Building Officials and agencies like DSA and OSHPD. I would not be allowed to use your product on any of my projects due to our exit code requirements for door levers to have a return on it (in theory, to prevent snagging on a person's clothes as they try to exit in an emergency)
Jon Buss (Unregistered Guest)
Unregistered guest
Posted on Monday, October 04, 2021 - 12:28 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Nathan, thank you for the excellent suggestions of DSA and OSHPD as potential building management companies that might see the value in our new product. The California References Standard requires levers to have a return on them so they do not snag upon egress. The UP LoK is fully compliant, and many get confused by this. The handle is orientated in the OPPOSITE direction than conventional grip and twist handles, so there is no possibility anything will catch on the handle itself. Take another look, we actually make this an installation tip here: https://restroomlock.com/installation/
(top left of the page)
Michael Chusid, RA FCSI CCS
Senior Member
Username: michael_chusid

Post Number: 627
Registered: 10-2003


Posted on Monday, October 04, 2021 - 08:03 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I value local reps who know the local contractors, AHJ, competitive market, etc and turn up for CSI meetings, etc.

Yet bemoaning the loss of local reps is as pointless as bemoaning the loss of hardcopy Sweets Catalogs. The dead tree edition became obsolete when fax and low cost long distance phone calls plus overnight delivery became practical.

None of the building product manufacturers to whom I consult have local reps. Instead, they have product experts just a phone call away, video calls, PDF drawing transmittal, and a host of technical aides online. The inhouse experts are trained in product knowledge and customer service, have all sorts of inhouse back-up (plus me), and are dedicated to working with specifiers and designers. When they have too, they jump on an airplane to go to a job site (but that is even being replaced by video inspections).

In some ways, it is a throwback to an older model of sales. I did my architectural internship in a small town that was hours away from the nearest big city or regional hub. A visit from a sales rep was a rare occurrence.
Michael Chusid, RA FCSI CCS 1-818-219-4937
www.chusid.com www.buildingproduct.guru

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