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Be Open to New Ideas

I just got back to the office after a week at AWCI’s Industry Executives’ Conference & Committee Meetings in beautiful San Antonio, Texas, home of our beloved Alamo. It was an incredible opportunity to share information with my peers.


Some of the best takeaways were the education sessions. One was “The Risks of Self-Perform,” presented by Greg Eckstrom of California Drywall. Greg highlighted risks associated with general contractors self-performing metal framing, drywall and taping—work that we typically do as drywall contractors.


Another session that I think ranks among the best educational classes I have attended was “The Employee Journey: Onboarding, SIEVE Analysis, uMapping and Raving Fans.” Presented by Mike Novakoski and John Parker of Elzinga & Volkers Construction, the session looked at unique strategies their company has used to attract, retain, develop and connect employees to the company’s purpose and plans.


Over the past several years it has become harder to retain existing employees and attract new ones. A couple of ideas I heard in this session about how these employers get to know their new employees and how they treat existing staff were helpful to me. They choose to do the right thing for their people, and in the process they have become much more competitive and have increased their profits substantially. The presenters recently co-authored a book called “Become Unmistakable: Start the Journey from Commodity to Oddity.”


In closing, I would recommend that you attend either AWCI’s fall conference or our annual convention, if not both. They provide great opportunities to extend your knowledge of our industry through education seminars and sessions. Our next convention is April 22–26, 2019, in National Harbor, Md., only a short distance from our nation’s capital. Learn more at

In addition to being 2018–2019 president of the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry, Smith is president of Baker Drywall Austin, Ltd.

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