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Acoustical Wall Panel Systems

William L. Shannon, Editor

William L. Shannon, Editor of CISCA

Innovation & Professionalism

March 4, 2000

Just returned from Intercon 2000, what a great turnout! More than ninety booths exhibiting many new, innovative and interesting products and systems. It's great when the economy is booming, seems like manufacturers' really let their imagination loose and the results are fantastic!

There were many new ceiling and wall systems, new designs, new concepts and enthusiasm everywhere you looked!

We are living in an era of exciting change. The turn of the millenium offers a future that is very different from our past. The media is full of The Internet, .COMS, everywhere you look, and wireless technology. The change in technology is having a dramatic effect upon our industry. CAD Systems, computerized project planning. Electronic marketing, portable communication, conferences via satellite allowing simultaneous meetings in all corners of the globe!

What does all of this mean to the Ceilings and Interior Systems Construction Industry? Plenty!

In prior columns we have addressed the past, and how business was transacted. Most of the innovation that created our new industry has occurred in just the past 50 years. With the accelerating changes in technology, it is time that we analyzed our industry and try to learn from the tremendous success of other industries.

If you take a close look at the companies in the news, the wealth being created by so many individuals, there appears to be a common thread. Innovation! The leaders in business today share many of the visions of those who came before. New ideas! Bold initiative! Vision and determination! The leaders, the individuals who have had the most dramatic impact on our society do not exist by imitating or copying the ideas of others, but through hard work and imagination, creating new ideas and concepts. Bold new initiatives that have resulted in a better world for us all.

These ideas and initiatives certainly were not the result of demanding three equals for every specification, which assures the lowest common denominator for a project. They were not the result of trying to copy the ideas of the innovators, and selling it at a lower cost. Anybody can be the low bidder with the lowest quality product.

Hopefully in this new Millenium we will learn to celebrate and respect innovation. Support the companies and individuals that are creating positive change in products and procedures within our industry. It is wonderful to attend a trade show and witness the results of hard work in product development by so many large, medium and small manufactures.

It is important for all segments of our industry, from manufacturing, contracting, distribution and Independent Manufacturers' Representation to support these new initiatives.

Over the past several years I have had the opportunity to discuss these issues with many contractors and distributors. They all agree that it is far more profitable to work on projects with higher fixed material costs and lower variable labor costs. There is less risk. It is more fun. They make more profit. They can be very proud of the finished product!

Projects with innovative products generally carry a more generous budget, usually have more sophisticated owners, higher quality technical documents, less guesswork.

Our industry shares the challenge of many other mature industries. We must change with the economy or loose our position within it. It is very important for the various segments of our industry to further develop mutual respect. Anybody can simply be the "low bidder". Spending their time arguing with architects and owners and in many instances not only making little or no profit but also destroying the opportunity for repeat business. Remember, if a company has worked with the owner and architect during the design phase of the project, they have a very strong reason to be certain that the project meets of exceeds the expectations of all concerned. Dealing with substitutes, guarantees working with people and material with no vested interest in the outcome of the project! They have little to lose.

There is a significant challenge to all of us. Manufacturers', continue to develop new, improved, innovative and exciting products. Distributors, try to support this innovation by promoting, and selling the specified materials. Independent Manufacturers' Representatives, spend your time and effort in promoting, the innovative products of your principal companies, not trying to "knock off" specifications of other hard working reps. Contractors, by helping us all try to increase the quality and profitability of projects by supporting the specifications.

Cheapening a project benefits none of us in the long run. It stifles innovation, rewards mediocrity and guarantees a diminished respect by owners and architects for our industry. Let's all do our best to raise the bar, promote professionalism, and earn the respect we deserve. Maybe the next news item will be about CISCA and CISCA Members, maybe even, CISCA.com.

In closing, I would like to take a moment to thank the many individuals who approached me at Intercon 2000 to say how much they enjoy Rep Corner. It was very surprising and greatly appreciated! If you would like to read prior columns please visit www.shannoncorporation.com.

William L. Shannon CSI, CISCA
President of Shannon Corporation
Recipient of the 2004 De Gelleke Award

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