AWI e-briefs - 12/02/2010 (Plain Text Version)

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Learning Forum

AWI Speaker Bureau: Gateway to Business Development

AWI NewsBriefs recently talked with Chris Stapleton of PGS Millwork about whether his participation on the AWI Speaker Bureau has helped his firm develop business opportunities. Find out what he had to say.

In the December issue of AWI NewsBriefs (soon to reach your mailbox), Chris talked about the challenges and hard work involved in making presentations to the design community. He also outlined the opportunities it presents to PGS Millwork to reach their target audience of architects with whom they have worked or want to work. Here’s a sample of what he had to say...about changing perceptions. Find out more in the December issue of NewsBriefs, AWI’s monthly print newsletter.

"...like other woodwork firms, we don’t directly sell to architects," Chris told NewsBriefs. "General contractors and construction managers pay our invoices," he said. "However, we must favorably influence the design community’s perception of architectural woodwork; we cannot rely on our customers to do this for us. Although woodwork is typically the last thing installed and paid for, it is often the first thing experienced by building visitors and occupants. Our work is often the dominant aesthetic experience for building visitors. Ideally, architectural woodwork should be considered in the early stages of design. This ideal is not the norm, however, and designers or developers are often constrained by budget and schedule erosion in earlier construction stages," Chris observed. AWI Speaker Bureau presenters have an opportunity to promote involvement of millworkers in the early design phase of a project. "We can help them preserve their budgets and counsel them about the consequences of their value engineering decisions," Chris said.

While it is difficult to quantify the distinct effect of AWI Speaker Bureau participation on their bottom line, Chris advised that PGS Millwork has been awarded several jobs in recent months by an architecture firm at which he made several presentations. "Being an AWI Speaker Bureau ambassador, and doing a good job at it, is definitely a contributing factor to project awards. As with any thoughtful and sincere relationship-building activity, it can help differentiate your firm. When competing firms are perceived as equal for their competitive bids, value engineering, samples, deliverables, schedule, budgets, quality and expected error rates, a firm’s commitment to education, training and consultative sales might make the deciding difference to the design team’s award recommendation. These qualitative activities definitely make a difference; they’re just hard to measure," Chris noted. "That said, you still have to get the work done professionally, punctually and prudently. All the soft selling and relationship-building in the world won’t provide a pass for project failures. In the marketplace in which we compete, project failure is not an option, and could easily wipe out years of design firm relationship development," he said.

Professionally associated with the architectural woodwork industry since 2002, Christopher Stapleton owned and operated his own woodworking business prior to joining PGS Millwork over three years ago. Previously, he was an avid woodworker while engaged as an IT executive and financial analyst on Wall Street. Chris holds an MBA in International Finance and a BS in Economics from St. John’s University. Founded in 1985, PGS Millwork, Inc. provides Premium grade architectural woodwork for general contractors, construction managers, developers and building owners in New York City and beyond. The firm’s 75 employees work out of a 44,000 sf facility in Hudson, NY and a sales and estimating office in Manhattan. The firm has been an AWI Manufacturing Member since 1989.

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