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November 2014   

Education at AWCI’s Conference


By: Scott Casabona

I hope you were one of the fortunate who were able to attend AWCI’s Industry Executives’ Conference & Committee Meetings in Baltimore. Baltimore proved to be a fantastic venue full of history, eclectic neighborhoods and a vibrant waterfront retail district. An added bonus was the Baltimore Orioles’ participation in Major League Baseball’s American League Championship Series. With the Orioles home ballpark, Camden Yards, only two blocks from the conference hotel, the downtown area was full of energy and excitement.

If you were able to attend one or both of the education sessions, you were treated to some terrific insight on two issues that face almost every interior systems contractor. The first session, titled "Building Information Modeling (BIM): How to Make It Work for Your Company,” was extremely informative. The panelists for this presentation consisted of a group of contactors who have fully embraced BIM and openly discussed how they utilize this technology within their companies. For these advanced contractors, BIM is something more than a service they are asked to provide by clients. These contractors are utilizing BIM technology to be more efficient and give their respective companies a competitive edge. The panelists discussed the good and bad of BIM as well as the challenges they faced when first implementing this technology.

The second education session, titled "Ownership Transition Techniques that Work,” was moderated by Stuart Phoenix of FMI. Stuart is one of the leading authorities on merger-and-acquisition activity in the construction industry, and his knowledge and insight proved to be invaluable. If you’re like most small to mid-size business owners, chances are you have a significant amount of net worth tied up in your company. Whether you’re contemplating retirement, moving on to new ventures, or just looking to slow down and step aside, you need a plan to be able to access the capital you’ve accumulated in your business. This session focused on various ownership transition techniques and discussed the pros and cons of each. The one take-away from this session is ownership transition is a process, not a decision you make overnight. Once a course of action is determined, the process could take five to 10 years to complete. If you’re considering some type of internal ownership transfer such as a management buyout or an ESOP, a sound management succession plan must first be in place in order for the ownership transition to be successful.

Judging by the attendance at these sessions, these two topics definitely piqued the interest of conference attendees and generated some lively discussion. So if you didn’t make it to Baltimore, I certainly hope you will make room in your schedule to attend future AWCI conferences and conventions. The opportunity to attend valuable education sessions and have open and candid discussions with your peers around the country is worth much more that the cost of a plane ticket or hotel room.

In addition to being 2014–2015 president of the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry, Casabona is president of Sloan & Company, Inc. in West Caldwell, N.J.

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