Looking Forward

We are a few months into the 2015/2016 year for the Southwest Region.  Having attended Construct 2015 in St Louis I came away with a renewed sense of purpose as President of the Region.  Having expected to have another year of exposure to Region business as Vice President 1,  I was sure I would have three goals to champion during 2016/2017.  But here I am a year early having to lead one of the most enthusiastic Regions of CSI.  

My main focus for this year is to support Duane Johnson from the West Region in his endeavor to create a solid link between CSI at the chapter level and local colleges and universities.  In the month of February there will be an event held in Reno NV known as "ASC Regions 6 & 7 2016 Student Competition and Construction Management Conference".  The Region is looking into sending one of our members to answer questions and guide educators and students on how to get in contact with or involved with one of our many chapters.  I am expecting this individual to direct any requests directly to the chapter Presidents and from there they can delegate to their education or certification chair.  It is my intention to use this year to further the goal of the Region in supporting the chapters with their membership growth.  Ideas are always welcome. 

Paul Ricciuti, CSI, Southwest Region President


After two years of preparation and planning, the 2015 Tri Region Conference San Diego is now done.  Looking in the rear-view mirror helps to bring into focus the point of so much effort, and how it benefits CSI and its members. 

“I am no long terrified to be Chapter President.  Now I’m excited!”  Nancy Lomax-Brooks, CSI Albuquerque.

If you’re one of many CSI members who’ve never been to a region conference, let me state my belief that this quote represents the primary goal of these events. Leadership Training in our association is first and foremost about helping our volunteers understand that they are NOT ALONE, that even the most experienced and successful of our colleagues have challenges and struggles in their leadership roles.  Whether from a small chapter, or a large one, the issues and opportunities of our volunteer leaders are much the same. 

Attendees at the Tri-Region Conference had the unusual opportunity to spend two full days listening to leaders from the entire western United States speak about CSI’s mission, finding and encouraging volunteers, planning educational programs, strategically planning chapter futures, and sound financial practices.  Sharing of ideas was the goal – and the result is dozens of reenergized and excited leaders who headed back to their chapters with great plans for bringing CSI’s mission to life in their own communities.  Our great appreciation goes out to the CSI San Diego Chapter, and Conference Chair Neal Drell, for all their tremendous work putting together this wonderful event!  The SW Region greatly appreciates the chance to learn and share with so many members of the West and Northwest Regions.  Thank you all so much for your dedication!

On the subject of upcoming leaders:  beginning July 1, the Southwest Region welcomes Paul Ricuitti,  of the CSI Las Vegas Chapter, as our new Region President.  Paul brings energy and passion for CSI to the role, and I am very happy to be able to hand over the reins to such a capable leader.  CSI Regions are charged with supporting our chapters, and training their leaders.  It’s a big job, which requires many hands.  Please do all you can to support Paul in these goals, and help whenever possible.  My year as region president has been a wonderful experience of growth – thanks so much to everyone who welcomed and assisted me, and to our board – Dave Bishton, Robin Snyder, Dean Leschak, and Paul Riciutti!  I am honored to call you my friends.

Jori Smith, President

CSI SW Region


By Jori Smith, CSI, CDT, LEED AP, Southwest Region President

Today during a jobsite visit, the Owner Representative (a CSI member) pulled me aside to indicate his concern with the application of the EIFS system details.  I reviewed the ongoing installation in part with knowledge gained at a CSI chapter presentation on proper EIFS application techniques – and agreed with the Owner’s concerns.   I then called the manufacturer’s technical representative, a CSI chapter associate and someone whom I consider a “Trusted Advisor”, to request that he visit the site immediately to review the installation; a request to which he quickly agreed.

This chain of events is indicative of how important TRUST has become in our increasingly litigious industry.  The network of peer-to-peer relationships in our professional association is not just about business development.  It’s also about constructing relationships of trust with others whom you know to be most interested in doing what’s right, and focused on problem resolution.  I trust my CSI network to help me build projects that end successfully for everyone on the team.

How do you build that network?  For most people, it takes more than showing up for a monthly lunch meeting.  The most effective way is to dig in and help: volunteer as an officer, committee chair or committee member.  Spend an hour or two a month working alongside your peers, getting to know them, and to trust each other.  Consider contacting your chapter and asking how you can help. You’ll be glad you did. The relationships you build will produce fruit, I promise! 

Speaking of volunteers:  CONGRATULATIONS are in order for Ron Geren, FCSI of the Phoenix Chapter, now our newly-minted Institute President-Elect  for FY2016; and for David Bishton, CCS, CCCA of the Denver Chapter, newly elected Institute Director for the SW Region.  These two gentlemen are great examples of how CSI membership grows our professional resumes and strengthens careers.  The Southwest Region can be very proud of producing yet another generation of dedicated and passionate leaders for CSI.

Join the Conversation

By Jori Smith, CSI, CDT, LEED AP, Southwest Region President

Once upon a time, on a site out in the middle of nowhere … there rose from the desert floor a new college classroom building.  The architects were confident, the owner hopeful, and the contractor diligent.  It was the architect’s first project incorporating BIM - but not all of the consulting team was participating in the model. 

 An interesting thing happened during the submittals process – the structural engineer discovered a 24” mistake for the joist bearing height in the structural design.  He corrected it in the steel shops (submitted as hard copy drawings), marked them Approved as Noted, then dutifully returned them to the contractor through the architect.  The model was never modified or reissued.  The contractor, unaware of any design modifications, was installing fabricated ductwork before it was discovered that there was 24” less height available above the ceiling than expected.  The ductwork re-fabrication cost $40K, and three weeks of lost schedule.

What went wrong?  Was your first instinct to blame the contractor for not recognizing the correction’s implications and alerting the rest of the building team?  Did you identify the owner’s failure to insist on a BIM process that is carried throughout the entire design and construction process, instead of implemented in a piecemeal fashion?  Or, was it the structural engineer’s fault that an ASI was not issued, formally modifying the construction documents with the correction to the bearing height?  The reality is that all of these things went wrong, and represent learning opportunities for every member of the building team.   I make sure to share this story with others when an appropriate opportunity presents itself.  It can be humbling to share our mistakes – but it’s worthwhile when it helps our industry improve.  I’m sure that you have your own stories as well, possibly some considerably more painful.

CSI is not just another professional association.  We combine all the different members of a project team into a single, highly diverse organization.  CSI made a deliberate choice to recognize ALL of our members as building professionals – and to recognize the critical roles we all play.  CSI puts all of us into the same room.  Are you taking advantage of the opportunity to communicate to your fellow members all the lessons that you’ve learned the “hard way”?

Certification programs, continuing education programs and technical seminars, webinars, a technical journal –these are just some of the ways that CSI members teach and learn from each other.  Communicating directly with one another as respected peers is another way – and possibly just as critical.  Participate in whichever way you are able, speak up - Join the Conversation - and help make a difference in our industry.

In Remembrance - Robert W. Johnson, FCSI

by Jori Smith, CSI, CDT, LEED AP, Southwest Region President

Former CSI President Robert Johnson, RA, FCSI, Distinguished Member, CCS, CCCA, of the Albuquerque Chapter died last week.  In addition to his loving family, he is survived by many, many of the construction professionals who have called CSI their association home.  Robert was a one of the greats, and the good work he left behind in the form of standards and formats, certification exams, task teams, advice and encouragement, will be evidence of his presence here for years to come.   CSI was lucky to have Robert in our midst.

My own place of employment also lost our elder statesman, Robert Stamm, and I attended his memorial service this week.  It was incredibly inspiring to see the hundreds of people gathered to honor this 93 year old scion of the construction industry in our state.  Over and over again, speakers mentioned the universities, associations, laws, and charitable foundations that had his fingerprints on them.  I was overwhelmed by everything this gentleman had managed to accomplish in his life.

When these sad days happen, we are reminded that it’s rarely our dependability at the workplace that is remembered by those who mourn our passing.  The improvements, the advances, and the good we have done – those are the things mentioned.  I will be one of the first to admit that Work- Life balance is always difficult.  But it clearly is possible to do much more than show up at work, do the job, and go home.  Joining a group of like-minded people, willing to gather together to work for the greater good of our industry and our community, is the first step.  The next is to raise your hand and volunteer to help.  The more people we have contributing, the easier the tasks will be.  I hope you are as inspired as I am by the tremendous examples of these two men, and feel challenged to go out into the world tomorrow and help make a difference.

A Contractor's Tale

by Jori B.L. Smith, CSI, CDT, LEED AP, Southwest Region President

‘Twas the day before Christmas, when all through the site,

Not a creature was stirring, not even the millwright.

The hardhats were hung by the heaters with care,

In hopes that the end of day soon would be there.


The laborers were nestled all snug in their trucks,

While cravings of long beers danced in stomachs.

The Super with his laptop, and I with a headache,

Had just settled our brains for a quick winter’s break.


When out on the site there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from my chair to see what was the matter!

Away to the window I flew like a flash,

Tore open the shutters and peeked thru the gash.


The sun on the breast of the new-fallen snow

Gave the lustre of silver to objects below.

When, what to my wondering eyes should alight,

But a miniature forklift, and eight workers so slight.


With a little old operator, so lively and quick,

I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

More rapid than turbos his workers they came,

And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!


“Now Tinner! Now, Painter! Now, Glazer and Craftsman!

On, Sparky , On, Finisher! On, Plumber and Mason!

To the top of the steel! To the top of the wall!

Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”

The construction industry changes dramatically for many of us working in wintry climes this time of year.  I’m probably not the only project manager who has daydreamed of a chubby elf with superpowers who arrives to spur the work on.  Whenever I visit the jobsite though, in my mittens and long underwear, I am reminded what a challenging work environment it is, and that we need to appreciate the men and women who frequently work outside all winter, to keep our projects moving ahead.  It is not easy.

The challenges of winter work are just one of many factors that need to be taken into account when planning a new project.  I’m often concerned about just how many of our Owners and Architects are getting the opportunity to really hear about the construction side of our industry in CSI.  We pride ourselves on being a diverse professional association, and so we are.  The number of construction professionals in our ranks, however, is roughly 10% of the overall membership.  In my own home chapter, I am frequently the only constructor attending.   The reality is that this side of our industry in under-represented both in numbers and in the educational programming we offer.  Here are some ways that you can help improve this situation:

  • Encourage your local general contractors and subcontractors to attend meetings, and become members.  These building professionals frequently have the same education as the architectural and engineering professionals they work with – and are as interested in continuing to update their knowledge base.
  • Remind your program committees of the importance of offering education that represents the entire membership of CSI.  Help them do that by suggesting topics of interest, and possible speakers.  
  • Encourage presenters to pair-up with other members of the industry – to broaden the coverage of topic so that it includes the voices all of the project team members.  Everyone attending with be the better for the opportunity to hear all sides of an issue.

If this is a topic of particular interest to you, please join us in the new CSI Constructor Education Group.  We will be working to improve the amount of programming available that features constructor issues, sharing those resources throughout CSI, and simultaneously working to strengthen CSI through diversity of its membership.  Contact me at jsmith@bradburystamm.com to find out how you can help.

Season’s Greetings to all, and to all a good-night!

It's the Season - Let's Tackle!

by Jori B.L. Smith, CSI, CDT, LEED AP, Southwest Region President

Pre-construction services has become a big part of my work as a general contractor, a trend that I believe is a big step in the right direction.  But it’s given me greater awareness of a situation that’s also been growing – subcontractors  who are called in to provide their expert advice regarding most appropriate product/system selections, maybe come to a couple of meetings, give some unit pricing for budget purposes.  These trade experts hope they will receive the job, that maybe we won’t even bid it out.  But we almost always do bid it out.  The project where competitive bidding isn’t necessary is a rare one these days.  Why doesn’t our industry pay consulting fees for this expertise?  The EXPERTS deserve to be recognized as such, and treated with the respect they deserve. 

My first thought was – we, the industry, need to discuss this. 

Then, at CONSTRUCT2014, I attended a presentation titled:  “Designing Contractors: The Project Team’s Guide to Design-Assist, Delegated Design, and Design-Build, Design-Build” presented by Vivian Volz, CSI, CCS, of the San Francisco Chapter.  It turns out this is a topic that hits a nerve, and goes deeper than I realized.  Door hardware companies are employing specifiers full-time, some of whom do nothing but build the door hardware schedule for the architect for FREE – no contract, no fee, no insurance, and no liability.  Then a pre-cast concrete manufacturer raised his hand – in his region, they are also asked to provide this design work up front, for FREE – no fee, no contract, no insurance and no liability.  Wow, this is about more than taking advantage of competitive companies who are willing to do some work for free.   Life-Safety, the Owner, and the architect’s practice, may potentially be at risk when situations like this occur in our project development process.  We, the industry, urgently need to address this issue. 

CSI is the perfect place to do that.  That’s what I love about CSI.  We have all the players, ready to tackle the issues from all angles.  It takes a group effort to solve problems that touch all members of the project team.  I hope you’ll join with your fellow CSI members to discuss and tackle the important issues confronting our industry.  That’s one of the most important functions of CSI.