In the insulation industry of the 1950s, competitors were few and the choice of vendors was limited through national distributors. Rock wool batts came in only three sizes — economy, medium and thick — all kraft. Fiberglass was only available in rolls. Energy was cheap, codes were nearly non-existent, and no one paid attention to how materials were installed or, for that matter, what was installed. Labels were placed on outside wrappers, making “substitutions” virtually impossible to detect. Materials were heavy, dirty and dusty, yet no one had ever heard of protective equipment. Blowing wool was a combination of floor sweepings, board, an occasional glove and large hunks of glass. There were some trade organizations around, but no one wanted to include those they called “blowers and throwers.” They stood alone, until a group of contractors envisioned the benefits of being unified. In the midst of an energy crisis in the late 1970s, the Insulation Contractors Association of America (ICAA) was formed, and almost immediately, contractors gained the respect they had been denied for so many years.
These are the things my father likes to reminisce about, but he is forward-thinking enough to thrive on the future. The ICAA Annual Convention and Trade Show has always been the ideal setting for him to maintain a competitive edge. Through the years, my father developed his skills by taking advantage of ICAA’s educational opportunities and networking with others in the industry. He looks for practical methods of business practices: compensation plans, equipment purchasing, insurance and — his favorite — negotiations. He loves to analyze business trends and discover how we stack up against industry numbers. Mostly, like many of us, my father enjoys the people mix of generations, the partnerships, the history, the stories, the jokes — the experiences of an annual reunion at the ICAA convention. Insulation contractors attend this comprehensive exposition every year to get up to speed on important industry issues and to go one-on-one with a diversity of suppliers.
ICAA Leadership ForumThis year, ICAA introduces its first Industry Leadership Forum, where an exchange of ideas by the panelists promises to be straightforward and insightful. This is an important professional experience for insulation contractors who want to keep a competitive edge. Industry leaders — top manufacturers and contractors — will go out on a limb to identify threats to the industry and project what the smart insulation contractor should be doing to stay competitive. For the first time, ICAA has invited industry leaders to sit down and discuss the state of the insulation industry. This Leadership Forum will take place on Friday, October 19, following the keynote address by the Honorable Fred Grandy.
Representing a diversity of interests, members of the Leadership Forum are: David T. Brown, chief operating officer, Owens Corning; Dennis Barrianeau, president, U.S. GreenFiber LLC; Virginia Cameron, ICAA president and president, A.C. & R. Insulation Co.; and Donald J. De Marie Jr., president/CEO of Gale Industries.
Each panelist brings a special expertise and point of view to the Forum. David Brown heads one of the largest insulation suppliers in the world. Dennis Barrianeau has seen U.S. GreenFiber LLC enhance its position in the marketplace. Ginny Cameron has taken over the helm of both a family-owned business and ICAA. Donald DeMarie has lead Gale through a period of unparalleled expansion.
On the table will be questions about consolidations, the energy crisis, and buying groups and their impact on the industry. The panelists will be asked to evaluate current trends and project how these trends can affect insulation contracting in the future. Industry highs and lows will be discussed. Questions will be taken from the audience.
ICAA RoundtableOn Saturday, October 20, ICAA members will wrestle with the tough issues that confront insulation contractors during the Roundtable on the Best Practices of Successful Insulators. The no-holds-barred discussion will include state-of-industry computer software, the implications of an energy crisis, killer contract terms, ethical issues and business expansion opportunities.
Brewery TourOn Friday, October 19, all attendees of the ICAA Convention and Trade Show are invited to take time away from business to tour the century-old home of the Anheuser-Busch Brewery. The brewery treats visitors to a tour that shows how the world-famous beer is brewed from raw natural ingredients and then bottled for national distribution. The tour includes visits to the home of the Budweiser Clydesdales and the elegant Brew House, where a multi-media presentation tells the story of the Budweiser brewing process. Insulation contractors will find special significance in the history of Anheuser-Busch and its proven ability to survive when times were tough. Visitors hear how the brewery survived prohibition and how use of the best natural materials coupled with recycling strategies have kept Anheuser-Busch in the forefront of American industry. The tour concludes with a complimentary tasting of Budweiser beers with sodas and snacks available for kids.
The 23rd ICAA Annual Convention and Trade Show in St. Louis runs from October 18 to 20, 2001. Contact 703.739.0356 or visit ICAA on the Web at www.insulate.org for further information.