What happened in Las Vegas couldn’t have stayed there, it had to be brought back home. I have just returned from STAFDA, which was held in the gamblin’ town. This being the show for all things fasteners, I couldn''t help but think of hanging board, which led me to thoughts on finishing, and then wondering what could really be thought up next to help quality and production. I did see a number of new products that got me excited, which will be listed in The Toolbox within the next couple months.



What happened in Las Vegas couldn’t have stayed there, it had to be brought back home. I have just returned from STAFDA, which was held in the gamblin’ town. This being the show for all things fasteners, I couldn''t help but think of hanging board, which led me to thoughts on finishing, and then wondering what could really be thought up next to help quality and production. I did see a number of new products that got me excited, which will be listed in The Toolbox within the next couple months.

When reading this issue as a whole, you will notice many themes on the past, present and near future in the trades, specifically as it relates to drywall and how it may impact your business. Mark Johnson’s feature “Spanish Reflections” profiles a project that yearns for an architectural past; Dave Darntuzer’s piece on the evolution of drywall finishing spans almost a century back; several of the winners in our Excellence in Design Awards either chose a design that recalls Gothic and/or Victorian architecture while others look futuristic; and Kevin Bush’s column this month explores the linguistics behind the phrase “old school.” And the whole point of The Toolbox department is to display the newest products.

After some thought, I actually found that these editorial pieces sum up the subtext for this issue, which suggests there are some contractors that resist change (comfortable with the old) and those that embrace it (willing to try the new), while others use new technology to duplicate something old and vice versa. I would like to assume our readers take a progressive stance but to exercise a little empathy, change is difficult. It requires perhaps more money/capital investment, a learning curve, training which cuts into labor, various resources that cost time and money and more. Who wants to engage in that?

Well, fortunately, a lot of us do.

I received a call recently from Dennis Sgambati, an officer at the Drywall Taping Contractors Association of Greater New York. He told me how along with his colleagues, they were able to sit down with Local 1974 Drywall Tapers and Pointers of Greater New York and negotiate a five-year contract that enabled the union to begin using automated taping tools and stilts, plus an increase of wages and benefits for workers. Part of his argument for these tools to the Local were articles that appeared in this magazine, notably September’s “Master the Taping Process” by Bob Weaver.

“This is the first time this equipment has been allowed in New York City,” says Sgambati. “These advances demonstrate the cooperation between employers and labor, as well as taping technology that has been used throughout most of this country, which will improve the quality of work and the efficiency of the drywall finisher.”

Obviously, this is a major achievement for all involved. Maybe New York doesn’t sleep because there are not enough hours in the day to hand finish all that board and to continuously move the scaffold every few minutes. With the introduction of these products on the job site-as well as a better wage and pay for the laborers-in theory Local 1974 should be seeing a better turnaround per project, thus saving everyone more money. And what did it cost them? Money that will probably pay itself back in very little time but more importantly, an open mind for something new.

As the year folds and with a slowdown in residential building, maybe it’s time to reflect on some changes you can make with your company to start fresh in 2007. Perhaps it’s not the best time to purchase those toys you wanted for your crew but again, not all investments have a big price tag. It may only take a different point of view to continue success. Don’t stand in the corner with your arms folded every time a new idea or philosophy is presented; show an interest in it, as it may be an opportunity waiting to be had.

I am pleased to announce that Mark Fowler has assumed the role of editorial director. Beginning as a plasterer in Southern California, he has worked himself up the ranks to be regarded as an industry expert on all things covered in this publication. During his time as architectural consultant with the Northwest Wall and Ceiling Bureau, he penned several articles for Walls & Ceilings. His full-time gig is now with the architectural firm Soltner Group, in the Seattle area, so we can’t demand all his time. But we’re thrilled to have him on board. Welcome Mark.

That being said, it is bittersweet for me to add that this will be my last issue serving you as editor. I have valued my time here deeply and appreciated your calls, feedback and time over the years. I’d like to dedicate this issue to the columnists. For the past six years, they have been a posse of support and resource but more importantly friends. Thanks to each of you.

All of us at Walls & Ceilings wish you and your family a Happy Holiday season.