I’ve always had a self-made nick name, “Master of the Obvious”. It is a running joke in my family, in fact my daughter got a hold of my iPhone several years back and had Siri change my phone to address me that way. I was talking with Mike Young, FCSI from the Denver Chapter and current CSINext President. The other day our conversation started on Institute Awards for CSINext and other individuals. And he used a term… One that I’ve heard him use several times at the SouthWest Region conference and even during CSINext Board Meetings.
If you haven’t figured it out, the term is “Trusted Advisor”. Kind of obvious since I titled the blog as the same. For those of us who are Designers, Architects, Specification Writers, Owners and Contractors, you learn quickly about the number one resource in CSI. That’s right the Product Representative. If there was only one accomplishment, I could be proud of while I was on the Institute Board, it was setting into motion the change to membership classification. For those who don’t know or don’t remember, there use to be a class for Product Rep called ‘Industry’.
But any of you who work with them daily, weekly or monthly know without a doubt that they are also professionals. Last week I talked about my first meeting and depth of knowledge in the room. Besides those who were in my profession, the real knowledge came from product rep. Up until I was engaged in CSI, the first 15 years, was a ‘challenge’ to get information. Digging through the Sweet’s catalogs, then expanding on the subject in our office’s product library.
Then I started to get know the Product Reps who were CSI Members. I remember my first encounter of needing a trusted advisor, it was on paint and Frank Fuller, FCSI, who at the time was a PPG rep. He helped with a specification and the owner insisted on using brand X, it was a small ‘local’ paint brand and he took the time to review the schedule and find the best equivalent products. Because of his efforts, it was a successful project and he was an integral part of the team.
Frank has since moved on to two other corporations. Each time he would dig deep into the product and become an expert, a trusted advisor. One key thing I remember was when he moved on from PPG and took on a new product, if he did not know the answer, he was honest about it. He would research it and get back quickly with what I needed to know. He is now with National Gypsum (full disclosure, a sponsor of CSINext) and while we are separated by a 1,000 miles I know that I could contact him with any question and get a straight answer.
Frank isn’t alone. I’ve worked with some of the most trusted advisors I can think of in Dallas while practicing Architecture. Here comes the shout out… Dennis Lalley, Steve Larson, James Robbs, Ed Hiller, Adam Clark, Jim Hesler and the list goes on. Tucson is lean for product reps, but it is good to know that my Dallas connections have been able to hook me up with their regional counter parts. I lean on them for my information and continue to build successful projects because of them.
So, the next time you need more information on a product. You might be able to Google it, get a lot of opinions from the web. But if you tap into your trusted advisor in CSI. The best resource you will ever invest in. A resource that is only available through CSI, putting the trusted advisor approach first in building the network of people.
…and now for something completely different.
More people are allergic to cow’s milk than any other food.