Post-frame builder uses secret weapon to convert church

-By Sharon Thatcher-

The idea that wood will rot when placed in the ground is one challenge that post-frame builders will likely always need to overcome. The public sees ravaged wood on a daily basis, in nature and in dilapidated old buildings. Newer wood treatments and other wood protection methods are quiet heroes that are little seen nor fully appreciated by most consumers.

So, what is a post-frame builder to do? Jay Johnson, owner of Building Concepts of Indiana, Columbus, has found a technique that works for him.

Post Protector

Jay Johnson, owner of Building Concepts of Indiana (left) is pictured with Pastor Randy Burton with the type of Post Protector that helped sell the job. Building Concepts photo.

A case in point was when Johnson met with the pastor of the North View Assemblies of God Church in Columbus for a preliminary discussion on a plan to build a new church building. After hearing the pastor describe what was wanted, Johnson suggested post frame. That’s when a problem arose, known in the marketing and sales fields as an ‘objection.’

“I talked to [the pastor] about post frame and he said, ‘well, we have a little hurdle to cross here because the leadership is really wanting to go with a steel-frame building,” Johnson recalled.

The Assemblies of God finance group didn’t have confidence in the longevity of a post foundation.

Building Concepts has been in business for 25 years, and Johnson is both a post-frame dealer (for Borkholder Buildings) and a steel-frame dealer, though he admits, “our bread and butter has been post-frame construction.”

His attitude going into any sales presentation is to be open to whatever the customer wants. He offered a more recent example of a customer that insisted on a foundation with bracketed posts even though a post in the ground method would have worked in this particular case. “You can give them ideas, but it’s not up to me to say ‘do post in the ground.’ I did throw that up as a possibility, but he was determined to do a foundation. Well, I was determined to sell a building, so whatever he wanted is what I wanted to do.”

Regarding the church, Johnson knew that a previous steel-frame project had fallen through due to the expense. Post frame with embedded posts was a logical solution. The final decision was up to a committee of church leaders and Johnson was given an opportunity to make a presentation.

Knowing there were concerns about long-term wood decay he went to the meeting armed with a special prop. “When I walked into the meeting, I walked into the meeting with a Post Protector,” he said.

Post Protector is one of many post protection products that have helped the post-frame industry evolve beyond pole barns. The post-frame industry offers several good post protection options including Perma-Column, Plasti-Sleeve, and PoleSaver, but Johnson’s personal choice since meeting owner Ken McDonnell several years ago at a Frame Building Expo, is the Post Protector.

Going into the meeting Johnson said, “They kind of had a bad attitude towards post-frame construction, so I talked about isolating the columns so the columns would last longer.”

It’s an uncomplicated solution that even a lay person can understand with one look. And it worked.

“They had a different view of post-frame construction after we made that little display … so by the time we walked out of there, we had the nod that they were going to go in the direction of post-frame construction,” Johnson said. “It was kind of fun for me, because I was able to sell some people who were uninformed about post frame.”

Johnson said he has employed the same technique on other customers, who are typically building higher-end post-frame structures that involve a big investment and the owners are open to ideas to protect that investment. “We say we honestly believe you can prolong the life of this building by isolating those columns and keeping moisture and insects from penetrating. We believe that strongly and we project that when we go out to meet with customers.”

Johnson credits the NFBA for helping him with his business. “A lot of what I’ve picked up is through the conferences, the annual meetings. We look for new innovations in construction. I think the NFBA is a great resource for that.

“There are things you can do in this industry to enhance the post-frame building and make it a lot better,” he continued. “The innovation we see, Post Protector is a great example, some of the insulation products, windows and doors and components, you can do a lot with post-frame construction using some of the more modern techniques.

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