Director's Message: Making Meaningful Change

SBCA Magazine,

The are a lot of new things to be aware of within SBCA and BCMC | FS

Welcome to BCMC | FS! As you settle in for another successful week at BCMC | FS, you’ll likely notice several changes to this year’s show. Each year, our BCMC Committee works with SBCA staff to make improvements to the show in order to deliver greater value to our attendees and exhibitors. One of those changes this year is moving away from a specific BCMC theme. Over the years, you may have noticed that each BCMC has had a theme relating the conference, our host city, or current state of the economy. This has allowed staff to develop special graphics and humor to draw attention to certain aspects of the conference. But does that drive value? That’s the question I asked myself after last year’s BCMC and Framer Summit (FS) while reviewing feedback from a focus group SBCA commissioned to gauge association interest among non-members.

Adapting Our Message

The consensus from our nonmember focus group was startling to us. For example, many had no idea that BCMC | FS was organized and produced by SBCA. In fact, they thought BCMC was a totally separate entity from SBCA; several even thought the Wood Truss Council of America (SBCA’s previous name) was yet another separate and distinct entity! This is an excellent example of what can happen when you focus your messaging in the wrong place and on the wrong people. We had been so worried about creating a new theme each year for staff to utilize for internal purposes that we ignored the message we had been sending to our attendees and exhibitors for several decades!

Consequently, we are making a concerted effort at BCMC | FS this year and thereafter to draw attention to the fact that this conference is produced by SBCA. Hopefully, you’ll notice it in our use of imagery throughout the Indiana Convention Center, our host hotels, and various printed materials (like this article/magazine!). This is part of a greater effort to draw more attention to SBCA and its role in the built environment. All of us attending BCMC | FS know components are a critical part of any light frame construction project, but if component manufacturers (CMs) don’t even know about SBCA, how will we convince others in the construction industry that components truly are the best way to frame?

SBCA is celebrating its 40th year throughout 2023 with several highlights focused on its history and accomplishments. For much of the organization’s history, it has focused on the technical aspects of components and proving their engineering prowess compared to alternatives, along with promoting best practices to safely install components to minimize structural and bodily harm when improperly installed (see page 22). But like all great organizations, SBCA must adapt to and address new challenges while maintaining its sound technical footing.

One of those challenges is communicating exactly the value components offer to the construction industry. As messaging continues to be convoluted by emerging buzz words and new construction theories (offsite, industrialized construction, 3D printing, etc.), too many don’t recognize that the best solution is already tried and true, and likely available in their market. While our industry was busy proving that components are a better engineered solution, we neglected to effectively drive home the point that they are also the best economic solution. When breaking down the construction supply chain, a majority know about components, but don’t know how to best utilize components as part of a systems approach to constructing a building’s framework.

This was one of the messages SBCA delivered in June at the Innovative Housing Showcase (IHS) in Washington, D.C. on the National Mall. Our organization, with the help and dedication of several members, was able to frame a two-story house in under 12 hours on a temporary foundation! To those of us familiar with the potential for component systems, this is typical of what we have come to expect. But to the more than 3,000 individuals who walked through the structure over three days, particularly those with HUD, NAHB, ICC, and a number of other entities, it was eye-opening to learn that components can deliver quality structures in a short timeframe. IHS is just one example of how SBCA is reaching out to promote the use of components in a systems approach, and as a result, is gaining recognition among other organizations (and their leadership) throughout the construction industry. 

Implementing Our Plan

Activities like IHS help support SBCA’s Strategic Plan, which was adopted in May 2023. This five-year structure provides a road map for SBCA’s leadership and staff to continue driving value for our membership and broader industry. Building off SBCA’s initial effort in 2020, this strategic plan focuses on three main pillars: 

  • Grow and Engage Membership
  • Innovate and Adapt
  • Demonstrate Expertise

While short and concise, the pillars express overarching themes with specific strategic goals and initiatives that promise to drive value for SBCA membership and related constituents for several years. A primary theme of this strategic plan is accountability, which will be discussed at each 
Open Quarterly Meeting (OQM) over the planning period. To learn more about SBCA’s Strategic Plan, visit or attend an OQM in 2024!

Our strategic plan paves the way for SBCA to overhaul its education offerings, both in the redevelopment of content with modern media and delivery methods, and the expansion of its audience to drive awareness of components throughout the construction industry. SBCA’s board of directors just recently approved a new Education Committee which will oversee our asynchronous learning while coordinating various learning opportunities via webinars, OQM learning, BCMC sessions, and other opportunities. Throughout this effort, we will identify and differentiate between education, which should be available to anyone interested in components, and training, which is specific to performing tasks at SBCA member companies. 

You’ll also likely notice a focus on innovation at BCMC | FS this year. We developed an Innovation Grant to entice suppliers to submit various innovations with this year's winner (Vetka Automation) showcased on this year’s show floor. SBCA received 24 submissions ranging from new software solutions to new construction materials to sophisticated machinery. This is an initial step towards SBCA fostering a culture of innovation within its organization that permeates the broader component and construction industry. 

Enhancing the Show

Another change, which you may have already noticed at BCMC | FS this year, is the inclusion of Framer Summit in BCMC. For several years, SBCA’s National Framers Council (NFC) has hosted its Framer Summit in conjunction with BCMC. Usually held in a ballroom near (or far from) the BCMC show floor, Framer Summit brings together framers from all over the country to discuss lumber procurement, contracts, and other best practices. As the event has grown, so has the curiosity among attendees of the two events. Rather than maintain a silo between the two events and the two groups, this year we are including Framer Summit exhibitors on the BCMC show floor, so attendees can move freely throughout the show floor and education sessions geared towards each audience. After all, components are only as efficient a solution as those who install them and vice versa. Hopefully, this change will be beneficial to all attendees and encourage additional collaboration throughout the framing supply chain! 

A final change to highlight is the addition of exhibitor-led education sessions on Tuesday afternoon, before the Framer and Industry Roundtables. Each year we receive requests from suppliers to present to attendees; however, this carries a high degree of risk that those presentations may come across as more promotional than educational. As a result, the BCMC Committee has been hesitant to integrate exhibitor-led sessions back into the traditional educational offering, given the high quality of BCMC education sessions over the years. This year, we were able to find a convenient timeslot on Tuesday after the 84 Lumber plant tour to share exhibitor expertise with BCMC | FS attendees. To help combat perceived conflicts and ensure significant educational value, the proposals submitted by participating exhibitors were redacted before a CM panel selected those who would participate. 

If the only constant is change, hopefully these changes are in the right direction! SBCA puts a lot of time, effort, energy, and resources into BCMC | FS to make it the best place for CMs and framers to collaborate and learn from each other as well as from exhibitors showing their innovations and ideas. While there may be several changes that I failed to mention here, I am confident they will make for a better BCMC | FS experience. And as always, if any ideas come to mind while exploring the show floor, or attending an education session, please track down an SBCA staff member and/or fill out an evaluation form!  

Jess Lohse, SBCA Director