Managing Technology

Laura M. Porinchak / April 2019

 The Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry’s annual convention at the end of this month in Maryland will be the 25th AWCI convention I have attended. In that time, many traditions and events have stayed the same, but I’ve also seen lots of changes. One change I welcomed was the change in how the AWCI staff communicated with each other during the convention and trade show. In the “old days” we communicated via walkie-talkies. Unfortunately, they didn’t always work. Sometimes the connections were bad, sometimes the batteries died on us. Behind the scenes at convention can be hectic at times, so you know I could tell you a story or two about putting out those small fires that attendees never knew about.
    
One example is a lovely young coworker who was fresh out of college when she came to work with us in the meetings department. She looked sweet as an angel (and she was), but boy, oh boy, could that gal swear. During the convention, AWCI staff members’ walkie-talkies were tied into others in our group, such as our hotel contact and the people who help set up our expo before the exhibitors arrive, so imagine the excitement (and kerfuffle) when our angelic-looking meetings coordinator’s voice came over all our walkie-talkies with vicious, #&%^*-laden rants about not being able to find a parking space for the staff car. Let’s just say we had some good times with that story, but thank goodness those walkie-talkies are gone now that we all have cellphones.
    
Technology has definitely changed in the last 25 years, but do you realize that the “fresh out of college” people of today, the ones who could start working for your company this summer, probably don’t even know what walkie-talkies are? They grew up in a world that already comes complete with computers, flat-screen TVs, iPads and a solar system full of satellites. They are known as Generation Z, and they’re ready to work for you.
    
But how will you manage them? What keeps Gen Z-ers engaged? How can you get them to listen when they won’t stop playing with the apps on their cellphones? The article that begins on page 44 might answer some of those questions and more. Have a look.
    
And speaking of technology, drones are the latest and greatest innovation to hit the construction industry, but we’re not seeing much of them in the wall and ceiling industry—so far. The article that begins on page 66 takes a look at how construction drones can make as much of an impact on an interior job as an exterior project. Safety and security are just two examples of how you and your company can take advantage of this “new” equipment now.
    
If you’re looking for another view on how technology has changed, flip to page 52 for a fun read about how estimating software (and hardware) has evolved. (Remember floppy disks?)
    
Our fourth and final feature article advises on how you can be a “self-determined” manager. Turn to page 60 to learn how you can create an environment where employees thrive and work gets done.

Now, getting back to AWCI’s Convention, if you plan to attend, be sure to seek me out. Booth #845 is where I’ll be during the Intex Expo (when I’m not walking the show floor), but we will have other opportunities to meet during committee meetings, receptions and education sessions. Come find me!