With a little help 

from my friends

Successful projects are the product of collaborative efforts

by Michael Fallarino

    I hope the opinions, reviews of materials and their use, and general reportage that I offer in this column from month to month is a worthwhile read. It's really a bit of an honor to have the opportunity to compose and produce a monthly column about our building construction industry. 

I have been continuously involved in the craft of journalism for 39 years now. My start was as the music columnist for my high school newspaper. I've written about a lot of things for a wide range of publications throughout North America. But I feel that my current position as a journalist focusing on green building tech is the most gratifying work I've undertaken as a journalist thus far.

Because of the energy consumed by buildings and the energy consumed by the construction process itself, all of us in the building industry should acknowledge that we have a heightened responsibility at this point in time. Among the many things that I try to accomplish for my clients as a building contractor is to generate lasting value from my work. To me this means maximally safeguarding a client's structure by thinking through the short and long term effects of my fabrication techniques. 

That's not a process that happens in a vacuum or as an act of imagination, or a pot shot that's a stab at a trial and error design. I read a wide range of building trade publications and I'm very interested in what other building professionals, manufacturers, and journalists have to say. In fact, I'm consistently awed by how much really good building trade journalism is being produced.

My personality is naturally scholarly and I am intent on producing the best possible outcome with my fabrications. That keeps me looking at the latest and greatest that manufacturers have to offer. Working with and learning from so many of you over the years consistently helps me to produce a better end product and advise others accordingly. 

But all the effort to learn about new products, how to implement them, and then write about them takes time. And much of the time that goes into the aforementioned process ends up being uncompensated. 

The gratification that I receive from voluntarily accepting that process, and the gratitude that I receive from my customers who understand the dedication and commitment that I try and bring to my work and their building, has to be enough of a reward.

In the process of producing monthly articles and columns as a journalist over the decades, I've worked with several hundred people in marketing, publicity, press, and promotions. Through that time, some of those I've worked with have stood out as exceptional. The best of those have made enough of an impact on me to influence how I interact with my own customers and prospective customers. 

The most successful and professional marketers whom I have worked with tend to share a handful of characteristics that makes interacting with them consistently pleasant. They are good at projecting human warmth and positivity, and function with an openness that allows conversations to proceed with great ease. A willingness to share, and an awareness of the fleeting nature of time has enabled them to cheerfully master the art of brevity. 

These non-pedantic individuals tend to be empowered people who make command decisions. They have good memories and understand how to pace another individual in a conversation and use voice intonation to convey meaning. Discussions with such excellent marketers are characterized by simplicity. 

All of us in business can learn a thing or two by understanding marketing better. We work in a complex industry that requires teamwork. I think that even most of the lumber yard personnel who I interact with regularly grasp that they are ambassadors for their business. 

This past winter, with the economy in the doldrums, one of my customers (a retired senior) decided to try and do her part to help out by hiring me to do a basement rehab project. Amazing! I reciprocated by providing her with my own promo: three days of free labor to attend to all those pesky handyman tasks that accumulate around a one-hundred year old craftsman home.

As a builder and a journalist, how can I help to create value in your world as a reader of this magazine? Is there some aspect of our industry you'd like to see me comment on? A group of products or some type of technology you'd like me to investigate and report on? What would you like to learn about? Drop me an email at herbalist@berk.com and lemme know what's on your mind.  

Mike Fallarino is a contractor in the Albany, New York, area. He can be contacted at herbalist@berk.com.

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