Believe me when I say I enjoy reader feedback. Occasionally, readers call to say specifically what they liked or didn't like in the current issue. Great. Less frequently, I receive something in writing that I can publish.

Right now my best way to gauge reader feedback is through our reader action cards. These numbers are assigned and appear after each piece of editorial or ad in the magazine. The index-sized card inserted in the magazine has a perforated line, designed to be torn out and mailed back to us with the selected RAC number circled. We do appreciate the time you take to fill these out. It does influence how we fashion the next year's editorial.

Every two weeks, I get a report listing the inquiries of the past couple issues and what sparks the greatest interest. Features that discuss plaster (or those concerning the hand trowel trades) always score exceptionally high. Herb Nordmeyer's feature "Degradation of One-Coat Stucco by Well Meaning Professionals"-parts one and two-had many people asking for copies, where to find it on the Web site, reprints and more, so distributors and associations could forward to colleagues. Similar feedback came with Mark Fowler's critical piece "A Disturbing Trend in Veneer Plaster" (March 2005). The response to these features just keeps climbing.

Given the interest in these subject matters, I assume that readers want further knowledge and information because of the skills and methods discussed in these pieces. One way to pursue this is by attending training programs.

I have attended a couple of these and have found them very helpful. In 2002, I attended USG's annual Train-the-Trainer-Skills USA. Here, I learned the basics of hanging board, taping and finishing according to the company's little red book.

Down in the Lone Star state, Permatone invited me to see plasterers create several decorative finishes. The company even threw a hawk and trowel in my hand, allowing me to share the same experience as other attendees. My bet is everyone who attended this session is now proficient with these different textures.

As for new training to its licensed applicators, Hacker Industries Inc. is rolling out its comprehensive training seminars. The two-day event focuses on self-leveling underlayment products. The company's specialists, technicians and outside experts provide instruction regarding preparation techniques and installation guidelines for hydraulic cement-based floor underlayments. This includes step-by-step methods for preparing slabs before installation, industry jargon, estimating and sales. Visit for greater detail.

Out east, the International Masonry Institute has recently broken ground for its newest training center, located in Bowie, Md. The two-building complex, totaling 106,000 square feet, will serve as the institute's flagship training center for the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers. The 15-acre site will host training programs in all masonry crafts, such as brick and block, tile, terrazzo, stone, marble, plaster, cement, restoration, the works. The new center will allow the IMI to further expound on its training programs, plus more educational services.

For those who cannot travel across the country for training, Better Than Ever Tools and USG both have loaded trucks stocked full of tools, materials and literature. These portable training centers assist next generation tapers and drywallers.

The International Union of Painters and Allied Trades Finishing Trades Institute also partnered with Better Than Ever Tools to host a comprehensive training program held at its affiliate union institutes.

Returning for its fourth year at the Metalcon show (October 3 through 5), the Steel Framing Alliance's STUD U three-day course will again be active. Adapted from the alliance's National Training Curriculum, the itinerary includes classroom and hands-on training for light gauge steel framing.

STUD U 101 is the introductory program with no experience required. It covers materials, common uses, field applications, nomenclature, steel in building codes and environmental attributes. It is designed for those employed in the building materials area, as well as inspectors, code officials, insurers, remodelers and those who want to know more about steel framing.

STUD U 201 is for those that have more construction experience. Designed to help builders and framing carpenters, the course will help develop skills and knowledge on framing with cold-formed steel. Topics include cold-formed steel design and standardization, tool selection, fasteners, bearing and non-bearing walls, roof trusses, floor joists, ordering and delivery, cut lists, green benefits and more. Visit for registration and rates.

This is only a small round up of what's available to the industry. If your company has a training program and would like to share the information with our readers, give us a call. We are happy to report such opportunities to a thirsty audience. In the meantime, keep filling out those RACs.