Faces of the Industry: Tony Acampa


Faces of the Industry: Tony Acampa

Design Team Lead  •  Shelter Systems Limited  •  Westminster, MD

How’d you get into this industry?

I was a drafting geek in high school and through my local Vo-Tech program I landed an internship at Shelter. Shortly after, I was offered a position and began my career here as a wall panel designer. After a few months, the company made a change and the wall panel division was eliminated, which led me to begin my journey into trusses. I fell in love with the problem solving the job required as well as the concept of attacking the project from both an architectural and structural point of view. In 2015, I accepted the design manager position and, although I work to solve different problems today, my excitement for this industry is still growing!

What’s your favorite part about being in this industry? What could you do without?

My team. I am blessed to have the best problem solving, number crunching, get your hands dirty and “help a brother or sister out” team. I enjoy the growth I get to experience in my own life, as well as watching the growth of others such as the seasoned designer adapting to change – or the junior designer when he or she finally “gets it.” I love pouring into their lives and learning about the things that are important to them.

One thing I could do without, even though I understand the purpose, is office policies and politics surrounding time away from work such as PTO and sick leave. They change from one company to another, but they can get in the way of growing your operations. The workforce is changing today where people value time more than money and we should be able to give them that experience. Providing flexibility will make our industry a lot more attractive to the workforce. 

What’s your company, market , or SBCA chapter focused on right now?

It’s not a secret. Finding and keeping the right employee is more difficult than ever today. Our focus as a leadership team is creating and maintaining a safe and attractive workplace. One way we do this is by investing in our people. Beyond monetary means, we’re investing our time by actively pursuing our employee’s career growth and development. We are providing a conduit between our office and production staff by offering job shadowing that puts staff members right alongside designers and allowing them to understand what goes into design work. Our site-visit programs and opportunities to pursue college courses are also expanding their knowledge of the industry and allowing them to develop and define their career paths. 

We’re investing in the latest technology to help provide a safer workplace, as well as developing tools to help streamline our processes to eliminate waste and save time. 

We’re also giving our employees a voice. By giving them a platform to share their ideas we include them in the implementation process, creating buy-in through idea box-type programs where they can share their ideas and voice their opinions, which gets them excited about seeing their ideas implemented. We then reward and celebrate their accomplishments! 

What challenges do you see for the industry in the future, and what should SBCA be working on now to meet those challenges?

A specific challenge I see is being able to produce a high-level 3D model required to meet the needs of BIM-led (building information modeling) projects. BIM has been around for some time and is gaining traction. In 2017, we designed five BIM-led projects and have a few in the pipeline for 2018/19. Knowledge and computer horsepower are needed to output the 3D model. Equally as important is the technical management process required by the customer. Expectations include uploading 3D models in correct X, Y, and Z coordinates, coordinating vertical and horizontal clashes within the placement diagram and participating in weekly coordination meetings with all trades to review the model. 

I believe that by working with software suppliers we can achieve the level of detail CMs need within the 3D model. We also need to export this data into “plug and play” extensions, which make our operations function smoothly. 

Finally, I really enjoy working with SBCA where we provide this type of knowledge and education to CMs through the SBCA website, webinar series, and/or topical libraries. 

When you’re not thinking about trusses, what keeps you busy?

Monster trucks and Hot Wheels. My five-year-old son, Matteo, keeps my mind off trusses and keeps me on my feet playing all kinds of sports, even made up ones. I enjoy spending time with my beautiful wife, Angela, curled up on our outside covered porch binge watching a show. You will also find me with a bass guitar in my hand playing a funky groove or a fly rod wading in the middle of a river in Western Maryland going for a native brown trout.