PFMI Update: Pursuit of growth

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The Post-Frame Market Initiative garners results for industry /

The Post-Frame Market Initiative, now in its fifth year, continues to produce results and promote post frame as the construction method of choice for light commercial construction. The past five years have been a challenging time for many builders throughout the country, but we are confident the next five years will present opportunity for growth in the post-frame industry.

Fund raising
In June we received approval from the Softwood Lumber Board (formerly the Binational Softwood Lumber Council) for funding of $80,000 for the second half of 2012. This funding will support our educational programs targeted at the design and engineering communities as well as several key research projects that will help us promote the benefits of post frame. We value our strong relationship with the Softwood Lumber Board and appreciate the generous support they provide to PFMI. In September NFBA will present to the Softwood Lumber Board for a 12-month cycle of funding.

In June we also hosted an educational and fund-raising session at NFBA headquarters in Glenview, Ill., for 19 member companies. At this session, we discussed PFMI’s past accomplishments, plans for 2013 and beyond and the growth opportunity for post frame over the next five years.

In July and August, NFBA will be attending meetings with representatives of the American Iron and Steel Institute in an effort to secure funding. We will be highlighting the significant volume of steel that goes into post-frame buildings and the impact the PFMI has in expanding the use of steel.

PFMI’s goal is to raise $750,000 for the 2013 program in order to expand outreach efforts into market segments that show the most promise for growth. NFBA will be conducting additional meetings for members to raise funds for the PFMI program, as well as ramping up efforts to identify new sources of funding.

The post-frame opportunity
Highlighted at the June fund-raising meeting was the “Post-Frame Market Sizing Model Report,” which NFBA commissioned from FMI, a construction-specialized market research firm. The objective of the study was to provide NFBA with a model created through fact-based assessments of the U.S. post-frame market. Through this research, FMI identified key trends and drivers, evaluated historical and expected growth trends and estimated the current and projected volume of prime building components.

Key findings:

•  Post-frame construction is forecast to grow 8 percent annually through 2016.

•  The two fastest-growing post-frame market segments in the next five years will be the residential-suburban and light commercial markets.

•  Perception and awareness continue to be the primary limiting factors for the growth of post frame.

The survey results confirm the construction market is poised for a rebound in the coming years, with the commercial and residential markets leading the way in pace and size. The agricultural segment will be the slowest-growing sector (with 3 percent annual growth through 2016), so PFMI efforts in the light commercial and commercial segments will be critical to capturing post frame’s share of the construction growth.

These results underscore the importance of PFMI’s goal to develop and execute strategies to expand post frame’s presence beyond its stronghold in the agricultural market segment. Complete results from the study are available to NFBA members in the members-only section at nfba.org.

Ask the Experts
This summer marks the debut of an Ask the Experts forum on postframeadvantage.com, PFMI’s online hub for information related to post-frame construction. This forum will allow visitors to the website, who are primarily architects and engineers, to ask technical design questions about post-frame construction. Visitors post their questions, and NFBA technical design experts post their replies for public view. If desired, visitors may continue the conversation on the topic by posting follow-up questions or comments on the experts’ replies. Ask the Experts will help build engagement with visitors to postframeadvantage.com and provide a much-needed service.

PFMI’s Exhibit in the fall
PFMI will continue its outreach to the architect and design community this fall by expanding its presence at WoodWorks’ Wood Solutions Fairs. These multifaceted daylong educational events focus on the use of wood in commercial buildings. The primary target audience is the design community and our previous experience at these events has been overwhelmingly positive.

NFBA will exhibit at upcoming Wood Solutions Fairs in Schaumburg, Ill. (September 27), San Antonio, (October 2), and Washington, D.C. (October 31). Harvey Manbeck, PhD, will present education modules on behalf of NFBA at each of these events. His presentations at past fairs have been very well attended. NFBA members are encouraged to come to these free shows. If you are able to attend, please be sure to stop by our exhibit.

Planning for 2013
At NFBA’s 2012 board meeting in Savannah, Ga., June 6–8, the PFMI Funding, Program Development and Metrics committees met to discuss current activities and future strategies. The primary goal for PFMI — to increase post-frame construction in the light commercial market through outreach to the design community — will remain intact, but PFMI also is developing strategies to capitalize on additional opportunities:

• Building owners — Architects and designers are key decision makers for commercial and light commercial construction. We will continue aggressive outreach programs to this group. But if architects are the gatekeepers, building owners are the key holders and PFMI is planning to expand its activities with this audience.

• Residential construction — according to the “Post-Frame Market Sizing Model Report” recently written for NFBA by FMI, residential construction is going to grow significantly in the next five years. Although post frame may not be the construction method of choice for all residential markets, PFMI will aggressively pursue opportunities to position post frame in the appropriate residential markets.

Goals in our areas of focus include these:

•  Messaging and branding — Confront the perception issue head-on by focusing on the advantages of post frame over other building methods and determining the most effective message for each of our target audiences.

•  Targeting — Enhance current targeting to include local code officials and building owners and use geographic targeting to identify hot spots for growth in areas that are most receptive to post frame.

• Communication integration — en-sure that our message is consistent in every channel (website, e-mail, trade shows, advertisements) and that we leverage new channels (social media, mobile platforms) to complement our marketing efforts.

The NFBA staff and the PFMI Program Development Committee will continue to refine the 2013 marketing plan. The support of NFBA members and other contributing organizations is greatly appreciated and will contribute to building the success of PFMI.

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