President’s Message – July

Construction Specifications Institute has been working to improve communications for almost seventy years! The achievements of this institute are enormous. Standards and formats developed and maintained by CSI are the heart of the construction industry’s communication and documentation. Without these systems the construction industry would be chaotic.

That being said, how can a person achieve a degree in construction and then be a manager in the industry for over fifteen years and never know that CSI existed? That question first occurred to me during CDT classes when I learned about Manual of Practice published by CSI.

The procedures and protocols that we had relied upon to manage every construction project were actually devised and published; they were not arbitrary trial and error. I was not alone. Most of the construction community knew little or nothing about CSI as an organization. At most they referred to Master Format as the CSI codes.

In the information age, more participants know something about CSI, but not very much. The Institute greatly improved the documentation of technical communications and, as always, the people part of the process lags behind. If every person who writes, interprets, enforces, or manages construction documents would master the Construction Documents Technology (CDT) Program, the industry’s quality and efficiency would make a quantum leap. Included in this scope are construction estimators, superintendents, and every other manager on the contractor’s team. That team includes not only employees but also the similar personnel for the subcontractors and suppliers. Obviously, everyone in business development and product sales is included; not to mention everyone on the design team.

Our challenge is to build on the excellent assets that we have inherited. CSI is about education. How can we sell CSI’s educational benefits to the industry? CSI is about clear, complete, concise and correct documents. How can the chapter promote correct technical specifications? I hope we will find some answers this year. CSI Houston will continue to provide a venue where professionals can share knowledge and insight.

I am honored to lead the Houston chapter as president. It is a privilege to serve an organization that invested greatly in my own career. I remember being in awe of guys like Perry Martin, Martin Martensen, and Greg Roberts. And I was encouraged by role models like Al Pasek, Leonard Skelton, Larry Adams and Lance McHaney. These are only a few of the industry’s leaders that molded an exciting CSI chapter. I attended CDT classes alongside Kathleen Lyles, Holly Jordan, and Bill Olsen with instructors like Peter Jordan, Don Smith, and Roger Brownlow. When I asked Doug Frank or Gary Shirley for an appointment they made me feel special because we were all part of CSI Houston.

The chapter history goes back decades further than my experience. I knew Hans Jensen, Steve Morton, Gene Moss, Bart Bartholomew and others who served the chapter in the eighties and nineties, before my time. These folks and many others left us a legacy of volunteering so that the future would be stronger for the people in this industry. I am grateful for their vision and wisdom and years of dedicated service. CSI Houston is special. I encourage everyone who puts CSI after their name to make a special effort to serve our chapter in this new fiscal year.

Bill Fairbanks, CDT
President, CSI Houston Chapter