Today’s ‘wacko’ is tomorrow’s normal

The other day, as I was driving along listening to a little talk radio, I couldn’t believe my ears!

Being discussed was a “carbon footprint analyst” for this year’s Democratic National Convention. The analyst’s job will be to calculate the carbon footprint of balloons, signs, meals, air conditioning, travel etc. at the convention this year. This analyst will establish a carbon offset assessment, so conventioneers can buy these offsets and party-on guilt free.  The Dems may just have to change their party color from blue to green.

The radio talk show host made the comment that someday the “carbon analyst” will be a required position for all corporations.  My response … crazy! You have got to be kidding!  That will never happen! 

After my tirade, I started thinking about all the changes that have come over our industry in the past 30 years.  When I started my post-frame career back in 1975, I thought the only use for a tether was to keep gestating sows from romping around a hog barn.  Now we are keeping our building crews from sliding off roofs with these tethers! 

On second thought…

When all this job safety stuff first hit the scene, I thought this was for big city construction companies and that we pole-barn guys could never afford the luxury of safety. In fact, if somebody would have told me back then that I’d actually be paying a “safety director” to penalize my own crew members for safety infractions, I would have said they were wacko! 

After more than 30 years of experience, I’ve learned that, “Today’s wacko is tomorrow’s normal.”  So maybe a “carbon footprint analyst” isn’t all that far-fetched after all.

Can you imagine what our industry would look like if we resisted all change?  We’d still be building with round poles, field-built glue-nailed trusses, corrugated galvanized roofing and siding, and nailed-on roofs and sides.  If we would not have adapted to new products and methods, we’d either be out of business or relegated to farm buildings exclusively. 

I can remember when our company made the switch from nailed-on to screwed-on roofs.  The screws cost five times more than nails, we had to equip our crews with screw-guns and the crews complained about how long it took to install a roof.

Now, you’d have to pry those guns out of their cold, dead hands — and roof leak complaints have been all but eliminated!

The end result? Our company was elevated to a new level of professionalism and we expanded our potential client base, (not to mention greater profitability)!

Looking back, looking ahead

Because of the adaptability of our industry, post-frame now offers a wide variety of roofing, siding, accessories, masonry and insulation products. We now can build on a variety of foundation options, including treated wood, plastic barriers, pre-cast and poured-in-place concrete piers. Even concrete masonry wall foundations. 

In fact, without these new options and innovations, what kind of message would our industry’s Post-Frame Market Initiative (PFMI) have to share with engineers, designers and building officials?

We need to offer all these new products and innovations to stay competitive with steel, masonry and stick-frame construction.  NFBA’s challenge will be to convince all these “gatekeepers” that we have embraced innovation and truly are more than “your grandpa’s pole barn”! 

After seeing the various changes in our industry over the years, who’s willing to bet that it’s going to stop? 

A wise old Midwestern builder once told me: “Be not first when the new is tried, but be not last to cast the old aside.”
That pretty well sums up the strategy our industry needs to adopt if we want to stay relevant in the construction business. 

Does anybody have any job openings for a “carbon footprint analyst” yet?  

Viva la change!
Bob Meyer, Perma Column, LLC, is a new member of the NFBA Supplier Division Council. Contact him at

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