PFMI Update: Significant impact (January 2013)

NFBA’s Post-Frame Market Initiative employs a number of metrics throughout the year to measure the size and market share of the post-frame industry, identify key trends and drivers, gauge perceptions and awareness of post frame in the design community and measure the impact of PFMI programs. This year PFMI has added a new survey to its metrics mix — the Lead-Conversion Survey — to measure the engagement of contacts and leads collected through its various initiatives.

In October 2012 PFMI sent the Lead-Conversion Survey to more than 1,300 architects and engineers whose names had been collected in the previous 18 months. These leads came to PFMI through advertising, trade shows, webinars and online university programs. Responses are still being analyzed, but preliminary results indicate that PFMI’s impact is significant. The main goal of the survey was to determine whether these individuals had specified or built a post-frame building.

The respondents to the survey were a 50-50 mix of architects and engineers. Not surprisingly, respondents who had participated in a webinar or online university course were more engaged with post frame than the leads that came in through the website or advertisements.

The average respondent had designed or specified 19 buildings in 2012, with about one-third of those being post frame. Respondents who had taken a webinar or online university course expected their building volume to increase by about 20 percent in 2013 but forecast nearly a 50 percent increase in their post-frame projects. These results indicate that PFMI’s education offerings are building affinity with post-frame construction.

Furthermore, respondents who had participated in PFMI’s educational offerings indicated they will be building larger buildings in 2013. In 2012 the average square footage per building was about 5,700 square feet for this audience, and in 2013 that number will exceed 6,100 square feet per building. This is attributable to a larger percentage of commercial buildings in the mix — about 35 percent of respondents indicated that the primary use of their post-frame projects was commercial, more than any other segment. PFMI’s goal is to expand the use of post-frame construction in the light-commercial segment, so this finding is especially encouraging.

For respondents who had not designed or specified a post-frame project in 2012 — about half of all respondents — two-thirds indicated the primary reason was that the design opportunity did not present itself. Another significant reason was the intended use of the building did not lend itself to post-frame design. These results indicate PFMI still has work to do to persuade its audience to consider post frame for more projects, but it is encouraging that the perceived value of post frame — one of the primary limitations post-frame faces in advancing into non-agricultural segments — was not a determining factor for this group.

In 2013, PFMI aims to leverage the results of this survey to build web content and educational offerings that feature more prominently the innovative possibilities in design for post frame. We plan to conduct this survey annually to measure the impact of PFMI programs.

Post frame a hit at Wood Solutions Fairs
PFMI recently exhibited and delivered presentations at Wood Solutions Fairs in Schaumburg, Ill., and San Antonio. Wood Solutions Fairs, hosted by WoodWorks, are free multifaceted day-long educational events on the use of wood in nonresidential and multifamily buildings.

Harvey Manbeck, Ph.D., P.E., presented “Structural Designs of Post-Frame Systems” to approximately 200 attendees at the Wood Solutions Fair in Schaumburg. With almost 700 attendees, this trade show was one of the strongest PFMI has attended in terms of enthusiasm about wood construction and interest in post-frame construction. The San Antonio fair was also well attended. PFMI had planned to exhibit and present at an October 30 Wood Solutions Fair in Alexandria, Va., but the event had to be rescheduled for January 8, 2013, because of Hurricane Sandy.

The combination of presenting and exhibiting at shows continues to be a recipe for success for PFMI, and we are excited to build on this success at Wood Solutions Fairs in 2013, as well as at other trade shows and conventions.

Research to benefit the post-frame industry
PFMI is not just about education and marketing; 20 to 30 percent of PFMI’s budget each year goes toward research projects that will benefit the post-frame industry.

In the second half of 2012, two such projects are under way. As a follow-up to the 3-hour post-frame fire-wall study conducted in 2011 — which resulted in the first wood-constructed assembly to be recognized by Underwriters Laboratories — NFBA representatives have submitted variations on the original design to UL for evaluation. Gaining acceptance of these design variations could help widen the use of wood-frame fire-wall assemblies, especially in commercial applications.

Furthermore, PFMI has funded a two-phase project to develop design data for steel-clad, wood-framed diaphragms and shear walls. Post-frame construction has the potential to make significant gains in commercial and institutional markets because of the inherent advantages in its unique steel-clad, wood-framed structural envelope system, which resists lateral loads from wind and earthquake. Lateral design methods for post-frame buildings are available; lacking, however, are design data on steel-clad, wood-framed diaphragms and shear walls.

NFBA representatives completed the first phase of the project in June and are currently working on the second phase, to be completed before the end of 2012. Completion of this project will provide post frame a range of values and assemblies that did not exist previously.

Stay tuned for more exciting news and developments later in 2013. 

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