The year 2020 is behind us and I for one am looking forward to the New Year. Of course, odds are the need to adapt to the changes in our business environment won’t just vanish with 2021. Though 2020 has had its fair share of hard times, it should not be considered all bad—2020 did give us time and perspective (though, maybe a little forced) to reflect on our businesses and think about how we are going to stay both relevant and grow in the future. We had the time to ponder questions, such as how will the business environment change this year, next year, and so on. What do we need to do to adapt to these changes and ensure we grow profitably?  

Keeping the Industry Up to Date

The business of walls and ceilings: contractors, installers, distributors and manufacturers and associated trades, are obviously interconnected and we all benefit from each-others’ success and continued growth. Therefore, for continued success and profitable growth we need to utilize the tools and methods currently available to us. There is also a need to develop more tools and methods as needed to ensure we keep all parts of our industry up to date.

Of course, many positions have changed due to the pandemic. In person, meetings have become a thing of the past and that alone has had a huge impact on how we conduct business. We now conduct these meetings virtually, using mediums such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams. The national, regional and local trade shows for 2020 were either cancelled, rescheduled or held virtually instead. Manufacturers have begun hosting AIA presentations and product specific presentations virtually as well. 

The use of social media platforms has been more prominent than ever. Many of the ways we used to conduct business has adapted, and it seems that continuous adaptation seems likely. However, it’s how we adapt as a collective industry that will determine our own level of success and growth.

Trade magazines and publications for the industry are a great resource for obtaining industry information on products, systems and business trends. They work collectively with manufacturers and trade associations to sponsor webinars and training seminars that we can all benefit from.

What We Need for Success

Written above is a brief overview of the changes that we have all experienced over the past year. The reason for what may seem to be an obvious summary: that a lot of the information that we provide the market-place as manufacturers provides only a partial component of what is crucial and critical for overall success. The other key component is how we as manufacturers get the message out to those that make their living installing the products and systems we promote. 

How do we get our message to not only the key decision makers of the organizations we work with but also to the individual craftsmen or tradesmen on-site to ensure they are completely updated and aware of the changes to products, installation guidelines, code changes, etcetera. 

So, I went online and looked at various manufacturers’ websites. I was looking for tech data and installation guidelines and found that though some are better than others, the information is available.  Simply checking out manufacturers’ websites is a way to become better educated on products and systems available.

How Associations Can Help

As mentioned before, social media sites are proving to be a place where one can get updated on products, systems, material handling, pumping equipment, tools and other industry relevant news. The amount of industry information flooding social media platforms is impressive.

One of the most valuable resources that is available to us in the wall and ceiling industry are the local wall and ceiling associations (side note: all these associations need more contractor members as well as manufacturers and other members of the industry). We are fortunate enough in our industry to have local associations that are specific, experienced and dedicated to our trade across the world. Each has resources that can be utilized to ensure that the entire industry stays up to speed on products, codes, installation, and maintains a general understanding of the industry itself.

How we all adapt to the changing environment and how we come to terms with the change that is all around us, will determine a good part of our success moving forward.