New Building Product Shortcomings
I attended the International Builders Show the second week of January, 2018. I’ve lost count of how many I’ve been to, but my first one was in 1995, if I’m not mistaken.
Building product manufacturers use this venue to ply their new wares in front of builders and members of the press like me. Thousands of exhibitors are at the show and tens of thousands of attendees walk many miles up and down the aisles looking at all the new eye candy.
Hypnotized at the Show
This show was the most unusual one I’ve ever attended for a number of reasons. The night of opening day I was at a dinner where I and five other people were hypnotized by a comedian. It was a very relaxing experience, but just twelve hours later I found myself schooling a major manufacturer about two of their new products.
This company had invited me to a private media-only breakfast at their booth before the show opened to the general public. I’ve attended many of these distraction-free meetings. I was introduced to two very young product managers who did a very good job of explaining their new exterior spackling compound and a high-strength glue in a caulking tube.
The young woman rattled off a long list of things on the outside of your home that the new spackling would repair. As she named each one, an image of you rolling your pressure washer out of your garage flashed in my head.
What Happens When Pressure Washed?
At one point, I interrupted her and asked what would happen to the new product when it was blasted with a pressure washer. Silence. I followed up asking if they had tested the product on all the surfaces they patched trying to clean it with a pressure washer. More silence. I was deeply troubled by that response.
The second product manager told me how the new magic glue would be great to install ceramic tile and he asked me to try it. I obliged him by gluing a 12×12 piece of tile to some vertical drywall. Then I asked him if he had ever installed ceramic tile on a job. The answer was “No.” My followup question was, “Do you know how ceramic tile is installed?” “No” was his honest answer.
Product Reps With No Field Experience
I left the booth shaking my head because I couldn’t think of any professional ceramic tile setter that would use this glue to set tile. How was it this multi-million-dollar company could allow someone to make such a claim?
A company that sells composite decking, plastic exterior home trim, and aluminum deck post railings had invited me to their booth. That was my next stop. They showed me some fancy new exterior trim and as I was leaving the booth, one of their employees had me look at an aluminum deck post.
Corrosion of New Deck Rails?
Within a few minutes, the company representative and I were in a deep discussion about how treated lumber and water create a corrosive witches’ brew that rapidly corrodes standard galvanized bolts that hold the aluminum railing system to the deck.
I asked a probing question if the company included type 316 stainless steel through bolts, washers, and nuts with the deck posts. This is what you need to prevent a homeowner, guest, or child from being injured or killed when a railing fails. The answer was “No”.
Lawsuits Are Common
I’ve done expert testimony work for over fifteen years with my most recent case involving a roofing defect at the home of the Brazilian Ambassador on the island of Antigua. I shared with the young man what happens when a building product becomes the focus of a lawsuit.
I speculated that consumers would readily pay a small extra fee to have the correct bolts and hardware installed with the deck posts. One of the leaders in deck railing safety, Simpson Strong-Tie, does this. They offer deck post hardware that contains special galvanized fasteners or you can upgrade to stainless steel. They also offer up detailed drawings and illustrations of how to connect the hardware to treated lumber decks.
Survey Consumers – Find Out What They Really Want
I offered to survey the tens of thousands of consumers who receive my free newsletter, but the young man had no interest. I decided to do it two days after getting home from the show and was not surprised by the results. Ninety-eight percent of the survey respondents answered they’d gladly pay the small extra money for the safe stainless steel bolts.
CONTACT ME using the Ask Tim page if you want me to conduct a survey for your company.
Your takeaway, I hope, is that you can’t hope a company is looking out for you. Unfortunately, more and more you have to perform time-consuming due diligence to protect yourself. An easier alternative may be to get my free newsletter to see whose cage I’m rattling in the coming months. Be safe out there!
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