Editor's Message: One Fateful Day

SBCA Magazine,

Looking back 40 years to SBCA’s first meeting

On May 7th, 1983, ten component manufacturers (CMs) from across the country met in a Dallas/Fort Worth airport hotel room and voted on a name for their fledgling organization that would represent the interests of their businesses and those of their peers. The organization had previously elected thirteen directors, and the nine present on this day each submitted a name for consideration that they thought best described their new group.

You can see their list in the record of the minutes from that meeting in Image 1. There was a consensus on a few key words: wood, truss, manufacturers, and association. That seems like a good name right there! In addition, the idea of including the word “national” or “American” was also considered. As you can also see from the minutes, this group of ten men was able to narrow the list down to four, with two options receiving all the votes in the second round (6-4). With a total of ten voters, essentially one person’s vote determined the majority opinion, and the Wood Truss Council of America (WTCA) was born.

The minutes don’t provide that much insight into the final decision, but it is interesting to note the group ultimately chose the only option out of the nine that did not contain the word “manufacturer” in the title. With all the focus today on “offsite manufacturing,” our industry puts a considerable amount of emphasis on that word and the fact that it fabricates framing products in a controlled environment.

It is also interesting to note that the name “Structural Wood Components Association” was one of the four final choices and is only one word different than the one the organization decided to rename itself almost 25 years later, the Structural Building Components Association (SBCA). The subsequent change was driven largely by a desire to recognize both the emergence of cold-formed steel (CFS) framing produced by members, and the addition of wall panels, EWP, and other structural framing products and services that were offered by CMs, which were not adequately represented by the words “wood truss.”

This year, as SBCA seeks to celebrate its 40th anniversary, the minutes from this initial meeting provide rich insight into the founders of the organization and their priorities, which guided SBCA and the industry through to the modern day. Staton Douthit served as SBCA’s first president for two terms. He was passionate about the organization and was effective at articulating its value to his peers, as evidenced by the fact he was the association’s top membership recruiter for the first thirty years of its existence. Dave Chambers is another CM who is often mentioned as an early pioneer in the industry. It isn’t a coincidence his name appears in this month’s issue in the article devoted to Don Thiel and the empire he forged (see page 12).

Every one of the men who attended the meeting at the Dallas/Fort Worth airport has a deep history in our industry, and their initial priorities also speak volumes about what they wisely saw were the most effective ways a trade group could help all its members. As you can see in Image 2, the very first goal they articulated was “promoting wood trusses and all other wood components manufactured by this industry” to architects, engineers, building officials, code agencies, and contractors. Fast forward to 2023, and that approach to market development and advocacy is again one of the top priorities and area of focus of the association.

Beyond that, the initial directors prioritized establishing a quality control and third-party inspection program. SBCA’s Digital QC and SBCRI’s Third Party QA are both the modern fulfillment of those priorities. The association’s founders understood that market growth and product diversity could be achieved more readily through the credibility of the product; QC and QA were cornerstones of that effort.

We will be highlighting many other key moments in the association’s history this year, so keep an eye out for videos, articles, podcasts, and more that will focus on how SBCA helped develop a sense of community and common purpose within the component manufacturing industry.

About the Author: Sean D. Shields, Managing Editor