Most NFBA members know that the National Frame Building Association is in the third year of its marketing campaign to grow post-frame construction’s share of the light commercial construction market. Our Post-Frame Marketing Initiative (PFMI) is aimed at increasing the awareness of the many advantages of post-frame construction to the design community such as architects, engineers and general contractors.
Our efforts are gaining exposure among this targeted audience every day, and we continue to be encouraged by the quantity and the quality of discussions we are having with them. As you can imagine, many come with misconceptions about post-frame construction.
Chief among them are comments like, “Oh, you mean farm buildings,” or “Oh, aren’t you the folks that build pole barns?”
We should all be proud of the history of our industry. The agricultural market remains an extremely important market segment to many of us. But there is a definite identity problem that we need to overcome in order to move more aggressively into markets that traditionally have been served by other product solutions.
PFMI seeks to open those doors by increasing awareness our how our product can be used to create functional, energy-efficient and cost-effective solutions to the commercial business owner.
That’s only part of the challenge. Once those owners and their design professionals are convinced they should take a closer look at post-frame, they soon turn their attention to wanting to take a closer look at the contractor they might use to build their post-frame project.
Here’s where you come in
Take a minute and put yourself in the position of this business owner or design professional. They have a need to build — and a desire to do it efficiently and cost-effectively — but they don’t like to take unnecessary risks.
This may be the first post-frame building they’ve ever considered and there’s a certain amount of risk associated with it. Going in this direction means they’ll have to find a qualified post-frame builder. That injects another dose of risk into the overall equation for the business owner.
What’s your task when contacted by this business owner or his design professional? It’s to convince them that you’re well qualified to meet their need.
How NFBA can help
NFBA provides one tool that can aid in this process. A few years ago, we embarked on developing an accreditation program for post-frame builders. The program requires a builder to acknowledge that he follows good business practices and adheres to the NFBA code of ethics at all times.
Applicants also must provide three letters of recommendation from prior customers, and complete 12 NFBA Accreditation Units (NAUs) every 24 months.
Isn’t that the kind of qualifications that would help put a customer’s mind at ease? Absolutely.
So what’s stopping you from presenting those credentials to each and every one of your building prospects?
Many builder members have already attended the required education sessions and received the requisite number of NAUs to qualify. Those who fall into that category can cross the finish line by printing an application from the NFBA Web site, filling it out, and submitting it along with three letters of recommendation and a check for $150 ($300 for non-NFBA members). Soon after, that builder can begin proudly presenting the NFBA Accredited Post-Frame Builder credentials to all future prospects.
How to get started
For those who don’t currently have enough NAUs to obtain their NFBA accreditation, it’s time to get to work. Go to the NFBA Web site and learn when the next chapter meeting will be held in your area. Make plans to attend so you can take advantage of the educational courses being offered to continue accumulating your NAUs.
Look at the bigger picture
It’s also never too early to start blocking out dates on your calendar to attend the 2011 Frame Building Expo, March 2–4 in Indianapolis. There will be plenty of courses offered there to round out the educational requirements for becoming an Accredited Post-Frame Builder.
The NFBA is stepping up its efforts to promote post-frame construction to a new and wider audience. We’re confident in our ability to demonstrate the many advantages that post-frame construction can offer the commercial business owner today. We’re asking those among you who are builders today to step up your efforts, too.
Take the necessary steps to become an Accredited Post-Frame Builder sooner rather than later. As we build our base of contacts within the design community, we will be providing them names of our builders that have told us they want to be considered for light commercial construction projects.
We’d love to put that “Accredited Post-Frame Builder” designation out to the side of as many members on the list as possible. Help us help you.
John Hill is president of Lester Building Systems and current chair of the NFBA Board of Directors.