Faces of the Industry: Greg Dahlstrom


Faces of the Industry: Greg Dahlstrom

Meet the chair of SBCA's IT Committee: Greg Dahlstrom, IT/IS Manager at Villaume Industries, Inc.

How’d you get into the component manufacturing industry?

In 2000, I started working summers, weekends and nights for Villaume Truss in St. Paul, Minnesota, while I was going to school. Like many people I’ve meet in this industry, I am the second generation of my family to be involved with truss manufacturing. My first tasks were basic gopher-work:
filing, order entry, magnet schedule board updating, and so on. These tasks morphed into basic computer upkeep, then into modifying information systems, and finally into designing and implementing IT infrastructure.

What do you like best about your job?

Most of the people I know who work in IT are cooped up in a cubicle all day, working on the same static project for months on end. I am lucky that I get to work in an office for most of my day, but I also get to spend time on the shop floor and in the yard; I’m not just chained to a desk.

A large portion of my job involves identifying and presenting information and systems in an easily consumable format. When I succeed, my coworkers are able to make better decisions with less effort, and that makes everyone happy.

What do you like best about working in this industry specifically?

I really enjoy the juxtaposition of both old and new technology in this industry. The five-year-old in me loves that I get to work with lasers, robotic saws and automated tables every day. Those tools are used side-by-side with saws, hammers and even machetes in our Box and Pallet division.

That divide between old and new can also be frustrating at times. I often find myself wishing I had a robot or software to accomplish a task, while I imagine my coworkers might be wishing they could complete the same task with a pencil and ruler. And generally, neither of us is wrong for what we want.

What challenges lie ahead for the industry and how can SBCA help meet them?

In the short term, one of the biggest challenges facing our industry is demonstrating our value as component manufacturers (CMs) and getting paid for that value. Every time I read about or talk to someone who had a customer or code official tour their plant, the feedback is the same: the person taking the tour had no idea of the behind-the-scenes effort that goes into building a truss or wall panel—from the technology and machinery involved, to the hours it takes even with all that automation. The same goes for the design side of component manufacturing. There is no magic wand that turns bad plans into a workable truss solution. After a tour, those outside the industry walk away with a better understanding of the value CMs add to the housing industry.

SBCA is tackling this situation head-on with the Framing the American Dream project. I hope to see the data continue to appear in presentable formats we can show our customers. I also hope to see more direct, one-to-one comparisons of conventional framing and componentized construction. As the current labor shortage continues, the ease and speed of component framing will hopefully become more and more clear to home builders.

 Outside of work, what kind of things keep you busy?

My life outside of work is extremely analog. I spend the majority of my time with my beautiful wife, chasing my two-year-old son around parks, zoos, museums, aquariums, shopping malls, etc. When I do get some time to myself,
I enjoy brewing and drinking beer, canoeing and participating in hunting and shooting sports.