President's Message: Communication and Compromise

President's Message

President's Message: Communication and Compromise

Two skills every CM needs to get stuff done

Ours is a challenging business. In it, sometimes you’re the windshield, and sometimes you’re the bug. In my case, I’m often called upon within my company to be the windshield wiper. It can be a rewarding job to help keep the way clear, but it usually always means you’re covered in guts. 

As I complete my year serving as president of SBCA, I marvel at how the skills I use at work have translated well to helping lead our association. I have found the art of good communication and a willingness to find a compromise to be the two things I have relied upon most.

I’ve commented in past messages on the many ways good communication leads to better problem solving. In general, if you are clear on your intent and transparent with your motivations, people learn to trust what you have to say. 

This past year, SBCA and the Truss Plate Institute (TPI) went through a transition period where our two organizations agreed to more clearly delineate our scopes of work and responsibilities. Anytime you change something that’s been around as long as these two organizations have been, there’s bound to be hard questions to answer and tough decisions to be made.

Throughout it all, I was so impressed by how well the members of the SBCA Executive Committee communicated with each other their vision for the future of both organizations and what they felt needed to happen in order to protect the best interest of all component manufacturers. Their clear communication helped both groups find the best path forward.

The Executive Committee is made up of dedicated, passionate and selfless component manufacturers. I want to thank each one of them for their service and commitment to the greater good of our industry. We met almost every week this past year and most of our conversations were highly productive because everyone spoke their mind but also showed a willingness to listen to what everyone else had to say.

It reminds me of a conversation I had with Charlie Harnden at Alpine many years ago when I worked for them. I told him that I was leaving Alpine and entering into a partnership with Richard Brown at Truss Systems. He told me two things that have always stuck with me: one, if two people always agree, one of them isn’t needed; and two, when you join a company, only institute change when you are absolutely certain it is for the better.

That first piece of advice constantly reminds me that disagreement is a good thing. Bringing different ideas and perspectives to a conversation produces a better result. It also means that some sort of compromise always needs to be on the table. That mindset was always evident this year, whether it was during the Executive Committee calls or at the SBCA Board of Directors meetings.

The second piece of advice is a reminder to avoid pushing others to do things the way I would do it just because it suits me better. If I force a change, it’s likely going to be rejected. If I’m convinced it’s right, I should be able to convince them to reach the same conclusion and own it.

Everything we’ve accomplished this year has been the result of a collective effort. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to give back to the industry that has been very good to me.