Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Membership Report - Specifier: January 2015

As we continue to promote CSC, the need for value in the construction industry is greater than ever. The Vancouver Chapter has increased by three new members which brings membership to 163.

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Monday, 12 January 2015

Education Report - Specifier: January 2015

The Vancouver chapter began a Principles of Construction Documentation course in September this year. It was by all measures a successful course with 16 students registered and are currently writing the final exam. Feedback from Glenn Chatten and the students I have spoken to has been extremely positive. With one of the largest group of students that have attended the PCD course in Vancouver the debate and interaction was very helpful for everyone that has attended. Many of the students registered are looking to go on to complete various CSC certified designations.

Principles of Construction Documentation is the first course, and a pre-requisite, for all of the CSC education streams. These are Certified Technical Representative, Certified Construction Contract Administrator, and Certified Specification Practitioner. It is also a strong foundational course for people who are new to the construction industry or want to better understand construction documentation (specifications, drawings and schedules), products, bidding procedures and contracts. This course is offered on-line by CSC Canada once a year and the Vancouver chapter aims to hold one local class a year. If there is enough demand the Chapter will look at offering another course.

The Technical Representative course is scheduled to begin January 19, 2015. Final details are being worked but tentatively we expect them to once again be held at the VRCA Vancouver location. The registration form has been posted on the CSC Vancouver web site, so if you are interested please submit the form back to me.

The CSC Vancouver chapter is also looking to hold the Construction Contract Administration beginning in the late Winter or early Spring. There have been a few people that have expressed interest in both classes, but not enough to hold a session. As of now we need two more people would be enough to hold the course. If you or any one you know has expressed an interest please contact me so we can work on getting a class filled and scheduled for each.

The CSC Vancouver chapter has reached out to a few potential instructors about teaching this course. If you are interested in teaching or would like to help co-teach a course please contact me to discuss your interests.

For further information please contact me at

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Friday, 9 January 2015

Industry Organizations - Specifier: January 2015

Construction Waste Management – BuildSmart (

Demolition / Deconstruction – BuildSmart (

Cement Association of Canada (
Canadian Precast Concrete Institute (

Masonry Institute of BC (
Masonry Institute (American) (

Canadian Institute of Steel Construction (

Architectural Woodwork Manufacturers Association of Canada (
Western Red Cedar Lumber Association (

Roofing Contractors Association of BC (
BC Sheet Metal Workers Associations (
EIFS Council of Canada (
RCI Inc. (
RCI Western Canada Chapter (

Steel Door Institute (
Canadian Steel Door Manufacturers Assoc (
Door Hardware Institute (
Glazing Contractors Association of BC (

Association of Wall and Ceiling Contractors of BC (
Gypsum Association (
Master Painters Institute (
Carpet and Rug Institute (
National Flooring Covering Association (
National Wood Flooring Association (
Terrazzo, Tile and Marble Assoc. of Canada (

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Wednesday, 7 January 2015

The Case for Old School Communication Tools Like Email in the Mobil & Social Era - Specifier: January 2015

By Dan Hodgins (

With everyone jumping on the social media bandwagon it’s easy to think you should do the same… just because everyone else is doing it.

However, I’m not convinced that this reasoning is sound, and that social media tools provide the right type of communication impact for every type of industry and organization… including yours.

Bear in mind that I’m speaking from personal experience as someone who has built up my own social media presence on a variety of platforms (including my blog, Twitter account, Facebook account, and LinkedIn account) and used the tools in practical ways to achieve my own communication goals.

To give you some additional context, I am currently responsible for operating two email distribution lists… one is a 2X monthly newsletter, and the other is an email-based course that automatically drips out a weekly educational email. These lists have 661 and 72 subscribers… and are growing in number each day, with unsubscribe rates under 1% per message.

For both lists, email open rates are currently ranging between 20 – 40%… well above the average open rate in our industry of 10 – 20%.

Let’s look at some data to gain some additional insight into people’s habits around the consumption of information.

Research studies show that email is used by most adult internet users.

92% of adult internet surfers use good old email, with 61% using it daily, and some multiple times per day. Pew survey, 2011

Email is probably the most cost-effective and efficient method for reaching people on all of the devices they use most often, at home, at work, and on the go, including smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers.

No other method comes close to matching the reach and ubiquity of email in a seamless experience across all devices 24/7/365 – for alerts, notices, notifications and value-added communications.

If you don’t have a simple email communications plan in place including: stakeholders, their needs and how you can use email as a communication tool to achieve your goals, then you might want to look at beefing up your email program before investing resources into launching social media accounts that require ongoing effort and resources just to get off the ground, let alone grow. 

If people don’t want to hear from you and avoid your communications, then you've got a relevancy problem, not a problem related to any specific communication tool.

If no one opens and reads your emails, then why would they want to read 100 tweets from your organization that are 140 characters each?

Chances are there are plenty of opportunities to improve your email communications by changing your distribution lists, frequencies, topics and relevance/quality/length of your messages. It’s crucial to find out which topic(s) interest people the most, and at what frequency.

Perhaps making your email messages 75% shorter while increasing frequency would be a much better tactic than trying to build up social media accounts from scratch!

It’s hard work to focus on continual improvement in your existing communication tools based on practical feedback from stakeholders, but this might be the best approach for organizations who are short on resources and time.

Social media tools (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN) can be used for additional reach, but I tend to view them as the supporting cast to the main star – email.

A simple way to use social media to support your email communications would be to post your email message on your web site or blog as an article, and then send out a link to the URL via your social media channels. However, in this case, social media might be redundant, and unnecessary.

Still skeptical? Do you think that social media is truly mandatory for your organization just because everyone else is doing it? Perhaps a bit of comparison will help – read on.

If you don’t like email, then your only other options are to: knock on people’s doors (too time consuming), call people on the phone each time you want to communicate (too time consuming), or send communication pieces by postal mail (too time consuming and expensive). Or, you could try to drum up support for a daily or weekly fax message and see if people become fired up about that…

All 4 of the above solutions are extremely inefficient investments in terms of time and money. They are relics of previous eras where instant and free communication using email to reach people on smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktop computing was not yet possible.

What people want is asynchronous communications that they can read when they want (at home, at work, and on the go) using the device they want (smartphone, tablet, laptop, desktop) in their preferred message format (probably email or even SMS… as opposed to Twitter). People go to Facebook to deliberately AVOID work related communications, so don’t try to force your organization’s communication needs onto people’s personal channels.

Email is BY FAR the world’s biggest and most established social network (people can CC, BCC and forward messages to up to 500 people on Gmail), so my recommendation is to dust off your organization’s communication plan and look at opportunities for improving the quality/relevancy of your email communications.

There are currently 2 billion smartphones in the world, and email is available on most, if not all of them, so you can achieve a strong message/media match by focusing on one simple messaging technique – email for mobile.

This approach will help you reach people with the right messages, at the right times, on the right devices with the right types of media in order to maximize your overall communication impact.

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Monday, 5 January 2015

Words from the Chair - Specifier: January 2015

The CSC Board would like to wish everyone a Happy and Prosperous New Year!
Kimberly Tompkins, CTR
Chapter Chair
CSC – Vancouver Chapter
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