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Marketing Program Essential to Metal Buildings Industry
June 02, 2002
 

Marketing Program Essential to Metal Buildings Industry

Since it was founded in 1956, the MBMA’s unflagging mission has been to advance the collective interests of the metal building and metal roofing systems industry. For nearly half a century, the lion’s share of MBMA’s success has come from defining and promoting the common interests of metal building systems manufacturers and meeting head-on the challenges and opportunities facing the industry.

To continue our labors to these ends, we are working hard to bring two major programs to fruition. Both the Market Growth Initiative Program and a training program for installers stand to make significant strides in the success of our industry.

Currently, both our biggest challenge and opportunity are one and the same: how to capitalize on a potential 20 percent increase in business over the next five years. In fact, it’s a classic bad news/good news scenario.

The bad news is nothing we don’t know already: industrial construction is down. It’s been on its way down since the late 1970s and has taken a sharper plunge over the past 18 months. While activity in this traditional market, continues to decrease, industrial construction still makes up the greatest percentage of the metal buildings business. It’s just that that piece of the pie chart gets slimmer and slimmer, down from almost half of our industry’s market to less than one-third.

The good news? Other sectors -- including primary and secondary education, private and developer-owned large commercial warehouses and big box retail warehouses -- offer new and greater opportunities for growth. In fact, these segments can more than overcome the losses from the industrial sector.

The collective hurdle we face within these new markets is recognition. Because we’ve looked at the industrial market as our bread and butter for so long, we have not done much to promote ourselves to other types of customers. Metal buildings and metal roofing hold tremendous benefits in emerging markets, but unless architects, specifiers, builders and end-users know about them, we never get invited to the dance.

As a means to tap this exciting growth potential, MBMA members have begun enlisting the financial support of contractors, suppliers and manufacturers for a proposed five-year, $8 million Market Growth Initiative Program.

As I mentioned in my May 2002 message, a well-funded marketing program would go far toward the goals of raising the awareness of metal building and metal roofing systems within our targeted markets, increasing shipments to those markets, developing more useful manuals (not unlike the Metal Roofing Systems Design Manual and soon-to-be-published new edition of the Metal Building Systems Manual), and increasing the perception of the value of metal building systems among lending and valuation institutions.

In March, our members mailed information on the program to their customers and reaction so far has been overwhelmingly positive. Clearly, a proactive marketing program is seen as a good and positive step forward, one that will be funded by contributions from all who stand to gain from greater use of metal building and metal roofing systems.

And, as the saying goes, a good defense is a good offense. The Market Growth Initiative Program is necessary, not only to raise awareness of metal building systems, but to compete with similar programs such as the Wood Promotion Network’s $45 million “Wood is Good” program and the American Concrete Institute’s Vision 2030 multi-million dollar image program.

If we don’t get our name in front of our potential customers, competing materials will. And they will reap the rewards while our numbers shrink. We cannot stand idle and let this happen. We must encourage support for our Market Growth Initiative Program.

The other critical program I mentioned is a training program now being negotiated with the National Center for Construction Education and Research, Gainesville, Florida. This formalized program will help ensure that our systems are erected properly, safely and efficiently at the contractor level -- a necessary foundation for a growing industry.

Through the AISC/MBMA certification program, this association has been a long-time advocate for helping manufacturers design, engineer and produce the highest quality metal building and metal roofing systems possible. With the advent of the training program, we are looking to bring these same high standards to the contractor/assembler level.

We are striving to ensure that this training program -- scheduled to roll out in stages -- will be as complete, comprehensive and effective as possible.

The future metal building and metal roofing industry has great potential. To capitalize on our opportunities, though, we must get to the next level. Only then can we take full control of our destiny, to becoming the building system of choice through design and installation. As Will Rogers said, “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”

So let’s move forward. The future has yet to be built. We can help make sure it’s made of metal.

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