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Social Media, Inbox?

| Fox Blocks in the Field | April 21, 2011

As I try to break into…..or attempt to utilize or at least sign up…….on some of the new social media or mediums that continue to grow in popularity, I realize that I must be old! Very, very old! I thought that my colleague out west “Mr. Sizzle” was about my age, but he is definitely young when it comes to all of these technologies!

Goodness gracious you have: Facebook, Linked-In, Twitter, YouTube, WWW, SMS, Email, MMS, Cell Phone and several gazillion blogs. And there also seems to be a new APP for EVERYTHING! It is all definitely VERY informative so I guess that the education and what that brings is very good.

The negative I see is the time management or the amount of time that these all take to maintain or even view. Can’t we just all talk like we used to? Or explain things face to face? I guess not any more. We are all doing more in less time, so I guess these advancements are all good. Please let me know what you think?

If you are in fact one of the cool people checking out YouTube and want to see some of our recent cool video clips, check out a few of Team Fox Blocks uploads at:
youtube.com/FoxBlocksAirlite
youtube.com/FoxWestICF
youtube.com/FoxBlocksSoutheast
Then go ahead and subscribe since you are there….we will continue adding cool new informative Fox Blocks videos moving forward.

And if you are on Facebook….please like us at:
facebook.com/foxblocks

It appears that there will be much more social media or mediums coming……so….I suppose I will have to twit or tweet or whatever it’s called next!

D.C. Mangimelli
Regional Sales Manager

The Envelope Please

| Benefits of ICFs | March 3, 2011

I am watching the Academy Awards as I write this and yes – I will admit enjoying the spectacle immensely. I even go so far as to help my lovely lady critique the fashion.

“Ack, I don’t like that dress – just doesn’t work on her.” I say. Hillary Swank is wearing a strapless silver colored gown. I am fond of dresses that flow on a woman, that drape her and accentuate the way she moves. Strapless just doesn’t do that.

I am rooting for True Grit to win Best Picture. My beloved and I went and saw True Grit together. I love that movie. The dialogue (I grew up on a ranch in the Dakotas) really hits home. I am going to buy the DVD; I have already bought the book.

I didn’t see any of the other pictures up for the awards. I suppose they are good (they were nominated – they must be ok). It appears the view from my couch is slightly prejudiced. I have preferences – what I’m used to and what looks good to me must be the best.

Last week I (along with several Fox Blocks Dealers) were working the CASH Show in Sacramento (the who’s who of School Construction in California attends). We had a Fox Blocks booth (the only ICF there) amidst engineering and architectural firms showing off to school district decision makers. The week before we were working the World Agg Expo in Visalia CA (again – the only ICF there), it’s the world’s largest agricultural expo and trade show.

From these shows there is good news no matter what brand of ICF floats your boat; the strongest recognition of ICF’s I have seen yet. I talked to farmers who built their houses with ICF’s and architects and engineers who specified ICF’s for their institutional projects; who all touted the superior performance of their buildings. The particular ICF brands they liked just because that’s what they were used to. Until they saw Fox Blocks.

One architect I talked to at the CASH Show had built his own house with ICF and had specified ICF for several projects (one of them the largest ICF church in Central California). He was at the booth looking over the Fox Blocks forms – “Wow,” he said, “these feel stronger.” I pulled out a corner form, “whoa now – that’s massive.”

He said he was glad to see the industry advancing with latest generation upgrades, but it’s the overall finished concept. “You need to show ICF projects that have durability requirements, finish durability-impact and abrasion resistance, as in military or industrial projects. It’s not the ICF brand; it’s not the foam, it’s how you dress it.”

I started using that to great effect for the rest of the show. He was right, school district officials upon hearing that institutional projects, federal government, military bases, etc are using ICF they warm right up. Give them lifecycle impact and abrasion resistant finishes and suddenly it’s a “yes – please do come make a presentation.”

I had been outlining why Fox Blocks have such an advantage over other ICF’s. Unless you’re actually in the ICF business nobody much cares. The hot button is the durability of concrete in a foam sandwich with tough finishes to match. ICF then becomes a viable competitor over CMU or Tilt Up or (good lord) light frame nonsense.

So if you are in the ICF business or have done some comparative performance homework, you already know the Oscar for Best Building goes to ICF.

But for Best Picture within the ICF business…may I have the envelope please? The Oscar (I just have to do this) Goes To: Fox Blocks. I may not have seen the other movies, or like strapless dresses, but if you want to build something, go see True Grit. Tough, Solid, and the Real Deal; kind of like the company and the people and the product at Fox Blocks.

Truss wire – Do we need it?

| Building Tips Using ICFs | March 3, 2011

Eliminate Truss WiresI was a believer in using truss wire when installing other ICF’s but now that I’m using the Fox Blocks ICF I have been convinced by contractors that it is not necessary.

In 1994 I started installing ICF’s full time. After several hundred successful jobs I was told I should try using truss wire in the walls. The truss wire helped and I was sold on the benefit it gave me to help straighten walls after concrete placement. I installed several different ICF brands and the truss wire installed in the second and top rows helped keep the walls straight, so we inserted it into every training program we developed. In the ICF’s of that era I would not install a job without truss wire.

In 2010 I joined the Fox Blocks team specifically because this new ICF has everything I have been asking for and more. I’ve been caught smiling a lot lately as I find new benefits that had not occurred to me prior to using this new ICF. A few months back several different contractors were telling me that they had stopped using truss wire with Fox Blocks because it is not necessary. I was skeptical so we started to experiment on the jobs we worked on as well as asking select contractors to join us on this experiment. To our surprise we came to realize that the truss wire did not make much difference with the Fox Blocks.

The 2” long interlock of the Fox Block gives incredible holding power in all directions, and to my surprise, eliminates the need for truss wire. For this reason we have decided to eliminate it from our product offering which will save $$$ on your jobs. Just think of the added benefits you gain over your competitors when you do not need the added cost of truss wire due to the design of this new Fox Block ICF. Not using the truss wire will also give you better concrete flow and lower man hour rates.

Keep watching in the months to come for new products our R&D team has been testing and perfecting. These really are exciting days in the ICF industry!

Glen

Glen’s Contractor Tip Corner: Short Jogs

| Building Tips Using ICFs | February 8, 2011

I had a call this week from a contractor who wanted to know if there was an easy way to build a two foot jog into a wall. This brought back flashbacks of when I used to attempt to interlock corners thinking the strength of the interlock was going to hold things together during concrete placement.

One of my life lessons came from a time when I worked for a very large cement and concrete company, which in fact was the largest cement producer world wide at the time. This was a major shift for me because I’m a licensed wood guy. What I learned was that in spite of being in the cement and concrete business for generations they were constantly learning. I remember contests to see who could create the highest strength concrete in the shortest time, and I was amazed what they would experiment with to achieve unbelievably high numbers.

New products come to us constantly within this industry, such as concrete that can now be pervious, water proof, self consolidating, high slump etc. The lesson I took with me was that you may have the best way to do things today but they are not sustainable, and if you don’t continue research and development you will be passed by those who do.

When I left my cement/concrete supplier job, I joined a company called Blue Maxx and had the privilege to work along side a legend in the ICF industry. In spite of his reputation, he would constantly tell me that he was not all that good and that his success came from the contractors who were doing the work. Simply put, contractors would tell him of how they build and he would listen. The lesson I took with me from him was that things change and when a contractor has an idea I need to listen because it may be the next great idea.

So how would I do a two foot jog? I have a choice to spend a long time cutting and fitting that corner to look good or spend a short time just creating a common seam and strapping it. Bottom line, the day after concrete placement both methods will look great but the one that takes shorter time is more profitable. I learned this from contractors who are building their ICF jobs from each corner to a center point in the wall and creating a common seam which they strap prior to concrete. Now, If it takes me more than a few minutes to attempt to make block coursing work I will not hesitate to create a common seam if it makes sense for the job.

Remember, at the end of your job you need to make a profit. Work smart, control your man hour rate and you will join the many ICF crews that have become profitable in our industry.

Glen

WOC 2011 – Great Kick Off

| Fox Blocks ICF Events | January 27, 2011

Traveling back to my home/office in Atlanta from the recent World of Concrete Show in Las Vegas , I was able to reflect on some of our company’s recent achievements. The recent World of Concrete show gave our company a platform or perfect opportunity to:

  1. Show our entire suite of Fox Blocks ICF Construction Product Solutions
    It was a great achievement for Glen Klassen and Mike Kennaw to design our 20’ x 20’ footprint in the North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center to successfully show and accommodate our entire suite of Fox Blocks ICF Solutions. The booth needed to show and/or demonstrate many Fox Block samples, new launch products, samples of constructed walls, YouTube construction videos, live website demo’s, interactive project estimator demo’s and training, recycling program displays, construction photographs and ancillary product samples. Coupled with our typically packed booth full of; potential clients, existing dealers, ICF Builders and customers during the 4 day exhibit. This is the most fun I have had while working a show or conference during my 25+ years as a construction products specialist.
  2. Highlight ALL of our New Fox Blocks Product Introductions
    Our new Product Introductions include; the launch of our; Fox 1440Fox Tilt-UpSilver Fox and we had some fun reintroducing our; Patent Approved 90 degree reinforced corner bracket “industrial strength” 90 degree Corner, Radius Block and our reinforced T-Block. The Fox 1440 is our panelized, site assembly form unit with a uniquely strong web connector. This product series was brought into our line from our acquisition of Formtech last year and now has the name Fox 1440 due to the ability to fit 1,440 form units in a 53’ Tractor Trailer. The Fox Tilt-Up was recently designed and launched giving us the ability to utilize our 2-1/2” thick EPS panels and our new polypropylene tilt-up connector to create and instant insulation board, furring strip and air/vapor barrier all in one step. Saving time and money on any tilt-up application. The Silver Fox is our highest rated R-Value Insulated Form Unit. With the introduction of graphite particles which act as both heat reflectors and absorbers causing an approximate 20% gain in R-Value reducing thermal conductivity. This product series will grow our opportunity with ALL Green Building Professionals giving them an R-27 Value.
  3. Demonstrate our newly launched Fox Blocks Website
    Our newly launched Fox Blocks Website will prove to be one of our industry’s greatest knowledge centers and sales & marketing tools. With easy to navigate options, this new design will give all of our dealers, builders, design professionals, potential clients and consumers all of their needed data within a click. With all of our tech doc’s easily accessible along with easy to navigate product and industry education, our new website will continue to be a work in progress….never being stale or old news. Please send us any/all suggestions you may have to continue to help us evolve with our exciting new site.
  4. Present our newly launched Fox Blocks Marketing Materials and Project Estimator
    New Marketing Materials including product specific tri-folds, recycling program details, up to date specific technical & code sheets and builder and consumer benefit hand-outs. In my opinion one of our greatest new marketing pieces is our newly launched Fox Blocks Project Estimator Program. This slick tool (THANKS GLEN) gives you HUGE benefits by entering in your core thickness, wall lengths and heights, number of corners and specialty blocks giving you the ability to easily figure your project quantity, concrete volumes (in metric or yards), man-hour rates AND EVEN RECYCLED CONTAINER ASSUMPTIONS! Give it a test run…click on PROJECT ESTIMATOR.
  5. Educate show attendees on our exclusive Airlite Plastics Company Recycling Program
    From a 2 ounce container to a 5 gallon bucket, we manufacture nearly 1.5 Billion Food Packaging/Containers a year. With that said, we do not want to waste ANY of the plastic coming from our injection molding process. So we chop, pelletize and recycle ALL of our plastic waste into our Fox Blocks Webs. Yeah 100%! Our Recycling Program and manufacturing process is ALL done in house by us to control our; quality, costs and transportation! Oh and did I mention that our exclusive web design offers a full 1-1/2” FULL HEIGHT ATTACHMENT.
  6. Get our entire Fox Blocks team together, for the concrete construction industry to see and meet
    Our Fox Blocks Team members were there to meet, greet and visit with show attendees during the WOC exhibit. From our owner Mr. Brad Crosby, to ALL Regional Sales Managers to our Customer Service Manager, to our Order Entry Specialists, to Pat Gredys our V.P. of EPS, to Mike Kennaw our V.P. of Sales, to our Technical Team….we were all out to present our; company, products and show our industry involvement. Collectively our group has over 200 years of ICF Experience!
  7. Our Fox Blocks Hospitality Night and Company Program
    On Tuesday after the exhibit hall closed we hosted a hospitality room in the South Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center from 5PM to 7PM. There were approximately 110 people in attendance and the food services group had a hard time keeping up with the appetizers-sorry. Among our guests were; members of the press, equipment manufacturers, vendors, customers, builders, dealers, bracing manufacturers etc. Randy Daniels –Western U.S. Regional Sales Manager, did a wonderful job as our Master of Ceremonies. Speakers included; Mr. Brad Crosby, President of Airlite Plastics Company and Mr. Pat Gredys, Vice President of EPS Airlite Plastics Company. Thanks to everyone who attended, hopefully all in attendance had a good time…….I know that I did.

Please note that I am not bragging about any of this…….I am just very proud of this company & product lineup and all of our people involved.

I am very blessed to be part of this team!!

By:

D.C. Mangimelli, II

Regional Sales Manager, Mid Atlantic U.S.A.

Glen’s Contractor Tip Corner

| Building Tips Using ICFs | January 8, 2011

Whenever possible I head out for an early morning walk with two objectives, to let my wife think I’m walking for my health and to get to the Starbucks that is 10 minutes from my home. Health experts agree that we need to walk 30 minutes each day for our health, so I walk really slow.

It’s already fall and just above freezing temperature; as I head out for my 6 am walk I can see my warm breath in the cool air. This puts a smile on my face as I think of all the conventional concrete guys who will soon realize how much better they will be to use ICF’s for their jobs. In cold or hot weather ICF’s hug the concrete and protect it from the outside temperatures. I make a mental note to start promoting this to the conventional guys.

I can remember being in Cave Creek, AZ, where a condo complex was being built and temperatures were 112°F at 7:00am. ICF’s were used to help keep the buildings cool but it also protected the concrete as it cured. That morning the Architect was contemplating using wood frame for a different project he was designing so I asked him how these ICF buildings were performing in the hot weather. He started to explain how amazed he was that even before the utilities are hooked up all the workers headed inside them at break time because they stayed cool on those hot days. I just smiled as he realized what he had just said. The next building he designed was ICF.

Anyway, here I am up north thinking it will soon be -40°F and I’m still living here. If anyone is actually reading this I would encourage you to come and experience -40°F with me. The thrill of attempting to run to your car before freezing to death only to find that it will not start because you forgot to plug it in. This is one reason we love the north, with these thoughts my heart is up to about 90 BPM as if I just walked 30 minutes!  Some day, if I can think of it, I’ll let you know the other reason.

Growing ICF Awareness

| Benefits of ICFs | January 6, 2011

My name is Randy Daniels, I have been an ICF Regional Sales Manager for over ten years. My office is in my home in Southern California, the region I have been responsible for has been the Western US.

I have had some success. Major ICF projects have been built, first of their kind; incepted and in part sold by me along with a cast of others. Amazing feeling seeing a project going up in the air and knowing you had a hand in it.

A few days ago, my boss (Mike Kennaw – big guy, likes football, played in college, begins sentences with the word “So” and now so am I) flew into town with the express purpose of visiting our new manufacturing plant in McFarland CA.

The other reason he came down (he lives in Lynden, WA – you can’t go much farther north and not be in Canada) was to meet with the General Sales Manager of a large ready-mix concrete and aggregates company. The General Sales Manager’s name is Renee and she has organized and developed a solid and effective inside sales support department. Mike is revamping our inside sales processes and wanted to get a look at a good one.

So we were in her office, it was a little lunch meeting, I was chomping on a cheese and tomato sandwich (very good) when in pops Renee’s boss. His name is Brian. Brian says hello, he knows we are ICF folks. Mike says hello, and Brian says “This ICF thing…I believe in it. But what’s the deal? After 10 years solid of a guy like Randy working in this market I don’t understand why we don’t see project after project while driving down the road.”

There was a pause. I can’t remember what Mike said in return. I stopped chewing. I dropped into my own little world. That question. I have heard it before. Anybody that knows ICF has said or heard the same thing. “What a great way to build-why don’t we see it going up everywhere?”

So in my defense (I couldn’t help it, internally I had to run some numbers in my defense). If say, a guy averages one architect, designer, engineer, or major design build or GC firm presentation a week, (some weeks I have done 3 or 4) at say, 40 work weeks a year, by 10 years, that’s at least 400 times delivering (I am told I am good at this) the ICF message. A monkey can present the ICF message; the facts are so clear-cut, remarkable, and compelling.

My common answer to “the question” is that most architects (like the rest of us) do what they do and do not want to change what they do. They have stock details, like to replicate systems. If they have to get into something new it takes more time and effort and none of us are quick to do anything that takes more time and effort.

I don’t know if I am right about this or not. But I have seen ICF design manuals sitting on the shelf in architect’s offices, gathering dust…while project after project goes out their door designed with CMU walls – furred out and insulated. Ack.

So what’s the answer? I had a guy tell me once that there were no silver bullets; only a bunch of silver BB’s.

If you have a silver bullet…or one of the BB’s…plug into the blog. I’ve got a few architects we could aim at.