Training News

IMI Offers New Ways to Grow BAC Work

Journal: Issue 5 - 2008

The New Products Expo at the Flynn Center in September gave designers and builders a detailed look at products and their installation methods.

Business as usual is no longer an option. Between economic uncertainty and technological changes in the construction industry, BAC members and contractors must embrace new ways to protect and grow their market share.

“As the market gets tighter, there are going to be people fighting for a piece of the pie, so we need to get in early,” says IU President and IMI Co-Chair John J. Flynn. “We will be focusing on new products that create work for our members and profitable jobs for our contractors.”

To help BAC members capture new markets, IMI is addressing the three things that have to happen: BAC contractors have to feel comfortable embracing new technologies; BAC members have to be trained to install them properly; and architects and engineers have to be confident specifying them.

New Products Expos

The BAC and IMI “New Products” initiative was given a boost this September with the New Products Expo at the John J. Flynn BAC/IMI International Training Center [the Flynn Center]. Each of the three groups mentioned earlier got a close look at some promising new products that address sustainability goals and reflect the variety of BAC skills, including terra cotta, ceramic and stone façade systems, flowable terrazzo, concrete flooring, and insulated concrete forms. Product representatives and IMI training experts walked through each product’s installation process and answered questions.

The “New Products” initiative includes jobsite assistance. On this Michigan project, IMI designed and built test panels with self-consolidating grout that helped the contractor win the bid. IMI also conducted onsite grout certification for BAC members to ensure quality installation.

Since proper installation is critical for new products, the Flynn Center was a perfect venue. “We have the best trained people in the industry, so it’s pretty easy for them to learn new systems,” says IMI Co-Chair Fred Kinateder of Kinateder Masonry. The format also demonstrated IMI’s unique combination of design and training expertise. “The knowledge and technical capacity offered by IMI is truly an asset to our industry,” says Michael Kuhn, Vice President of Jendoco Construction Corp. in Pittsburgh. “I am impressed by their forward thinking.”

The two day event, which included a technical seminar for engineers and an educational session for contractors, had something for everyone. BAC Local representatives, including members of the IU Executive Council and the Labor-Management Craft Committees, appreciated the chance to see all of the products under one roof.

New technologies can help contractors and members get work. This lifting device is being considered for a Minnesota Department of Transportation restoration project that IMI helped a BAC contractor win.

BAC contractors were inspired. “We really got some thought-provoking ideas,” says restoration contractor Tim Zito from Structural Maintenance Systems, Inc. in Philadelphia. Through such events, “we can give the architect, the owner and the general contractor a good feeling that the work can be done by BAC,” notes Robert Zavagno, Jr. from Cleveland Marble Mosaic Co. And that, says IU Northeast Regional Director Al Catalano, “is not going to happen anywhere else.”

The step-by-step installation of products went a long way toward helping architects and engineers understand how they really work. “It was very specific and informative,” says architect John Lopeman from ethos|three architecture in Las Vegas, who believes the approach makes designers more confident specifying the products.

Construction managers liked seeing new products and knowing that they are backed up by skilled training. “It was well worthwhile,” says Turner Construction Vice President Dennis DeLisle.

Tapping Local Markets

IMI introduces construction decision makers to new products and systems, like this terra cotta rain screen wall, and the benefits of having them installed by trained BAC craftworkers.

IMI also conducts versions of the New Products Expo tailored to local markets. This fall, IMI teamed up with ProSoCo, a manufacturer of masonry and concrete maintenance, water repellent and sealant products, and Local 9 Pennsylvania to present a seminar on masonry exterior cleaning trends to Pittsburgh contractors and craftworkers. In Illinois, an IMI program on ventilated masonry façades educated contractors and BAC officials while showing manufacturers the value of IMI training.

Michigan contractors interested in Boston Valley’s terra cotta rain screen system sent staff to the Local 9 Michigan training center to get hands-on experience with laying out and installing the rail and cladding system. “If you provide value, the work hours will follow,” says contractor Ed Davenport of Davenport Masonry, who just started a large project using the system.

In New England, the Local 3 Massachusetts/Maine/New Hampshire Training Center hosted an introduction to two stone and brick track systems for contractors, while IMI Connecticut offered a similar event on stone panels.

New Ways to Use Masonry

IMI’s use of technical tools like this masonry detail, and new structural masonry design software motivates designers to use more masonry.

Another way to grow work opportunities is to show new applications for core BAC products, like block and brick. That was the inspiration for a new structural masonry design software and seminar series that IMI is using to educate and inspire designers around the country.

The software makes it faster and easier than ever to do more with masonry, because it efficiently performs a whole building analysis of both load bearing masonry buildings and the new “hybrid” concept of masonry/steel design.

Developed in partnership with Bentley Systems, Ryan Biggs Associates and the National Concrete Masonry Association, the program promotes the use of masonry.

To encourage designers to use it, IMI conducts seminars offering professional education credits and shows them how load bearing masonry and hybrid solutions offer attractive alternatives to structural steel. For a seminar schedule, go to


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