Table of Contents
- Adding It Up - PCI's Business and Financial Status
- New PCI Membership Task Force Initiates Improvements
- Raising the Quality Bar
- PCI Foundation to Announce New Programs
- New Publications and Promotional Tools
- PCI Tackles Codes and Standards
- Education Gains Momentum
- FHWA Taps PCI for Precast Pavement Technology Transfer
- New Ad Sales Team to Serve PCI Members
- Advances in PCI Web Technology
- Special Limited-Time Offer on PCI “Libraries”
- If You're Reading This, You Probably Qualify for a FREE PCI Professional Membership
Adding It Up — PCI’s Business and Financial StatusAn update from PCI President Jim Toscas.
Earlier this year, PCI completed a long and difficult transition of its business and accounting systems. In addition to new computers and a new database, PCI instituted a completely new transaction processing system, a new chart of accounts, and new accounting methods to comply with the standards used by for-profit businesses (GAAP).
We encountered many serious challenges during this transition, including delays and breakdowns in our accounting, financial reporting, invoicing, and collections, which created frustration for PCI members, staff, and regional affiliates, and strained our cash flow. It also made our annual independent financial audits more lengthy and expensive than they would otherwise have been.
The transition was made even more difficult by the number of major projects underway at PCI. Aside from the computer conversion project itself, during this period PCI completed three major publications, upgraded our website, and launched a new branding program. The total cost of these projects was over $2.5 million, most of which was drawn from PCI’s reserve fund (money used to develop publications is recovered through sales revenue over the years).
The good news is that we are out of the woods. We now have the most detailed and accurate financial reports PCI has ever had. Our accounting processes are more timely and efficient than ever, and we are continuously refining and improving them as we tap deeper into the capabilities of our new systems. Our cash flow is healthy, and we expect to return money to the reserve fund at the end of the year.
The PCI staff deeply appreciates the tremendous patience and unwavering support shown by our
Executive Committee, our Board, and our members during this demanding period. The investment
PCI has made, although significant and (unfortunately) even painful, will pay operational
dividends far into the future.
New PCI Membership Task Force Initiates Improvements
PCI has been serving its members and the industry for over 50 years. Much has changed during this time, including the makeup and needs of our membership. PCI formed a membership task force to get our members’ views of the value of membership and make suggestions for improvement. The task force is conducting a membership segmentation analysis (similar to market segmentation) to improve PCI’s ability to identify needs and deliver greater value to the broad range of member interests we serve.
PCI has also begun to collect information from members through a combination of surveys, phone interviews, site visits, and focus groups. “We hope that the members we contact to participate in one of these activities will do so openly and whole-heartedly, ” says Brian Miller, Director of Engineering and Technology, who is heading the task force. “We need their frank input. After all, we are here because of our members.”
If you have any questions or suggestions on how PCI can deliver more value to your
membership, please contact Brian (email Brian Miller).
Raising the Quality Bar
PCI Certification: What You and Your Customers Should Know
The industry leader. PCI is the industry leader in quality assurance, with the best and most comprehensive certification program in the industry. In the nearly 40 years since its inception, PCI Plant Certification has become, by far, the most frequently specified quality standard for commercial precast concrete structures. The MasterSpec specification standard, endorsed by the American Institute of Architects, specifies PCI Certification.
The most highly respected program. A recent survey of lead architects and engineers indicated that PCI Plant Certification is top-rated in the industry and was one of only two certification programs consistently mentioned (the other being AISC). A key factor in the high respect held for PCI Plant Certification is the fact that PCI serves as the industry’s technical institute and has developed the standards and guidelines that serve as the basis for the program. Organizations that try to compete with PCI Plant Certification, lacking their own technical resources, use PCI standards.
An unbiased opinion. In the public sector, where quality and durability are most valued, PCI Certification is endorsed by the Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and 31 state departments of transportation, among others.
Make the Spec Stick
A project specifies a PCI-Certified producer, and things are looking good for your bid. At the last minute, a non-PCI-Certified, low-ball bidder tries to convince the owner/specifier to drop the certification requirement and award him the project. What can you do?
First, most specifiers are unaware of what PCI Certification actually entails. A detailed review of the quality requirements and audit process of PCI Certification is usually a real eye-opener to an owner/specifier. PCI can assist by providing a package of information on this subject—just ask us.
Next, if you find yourself competing with a “knock-off” certification program, PCI can provide you with information showing the differences between the imitation and the real thing.
Finally, you can ask PCI to arrange a call, letter, or visit from PCI’s Director of Quality Programs or the PCI President. They can explain that a PCI-Certified producer is also one of PCI’s Producer Members—companies that are in this business for the long term, make a sizeable investment of hours and dollars in the industry, and stand behind their work. We will work with you in every way we can to “Make the Spec Stick!”
Getting the Most Out of PCI Plant Certification
There is no question that PCI Producer Members benefit operationally from PCI Plant Certification. At a minimum, it confirms compliance with industry standards and provides the baseline quality standard within the industry. But how can PCI Certification help an accomplished producer whose operations are typically well above the baseline?
The PCI Plant Certification program can accommodate more stringent or specialized design
and fabrication requirements that may be set by producers or their customers. An individual
plant can include additional requirements in its PCI Quality System Manual (QSM) and have
its compliance to those requirements independently audited under the PCI Plant Certification
program. No matter how high you set your bar, PCI can help you hold to it. Contact Dean
Frank, Director of Quality Programs (email Dean Frank)
to discuss an enhanced quality management program.
PCI Foundation to Announce New Programs
Last year the PCI Foundation (originally the PCI Education Foundation) was formed “to foster improvement of the quality and sustainability of the built environment by promoting education, research, and technology programs in support of precast concrete construction systems and the Industry that produces them.”
The Foundation’s core initiatives are to (1) cultivate relationships between the industry and the academic community, (2) attract high-potential students to productive careers within the industry, (3) facilitate inclusion of precast concrete systems and technologies in college and university curricula, and (4) foster the development of sustainable precast concrete building systems. According to Pat Hynes (Knife River Corp.), a Foundation trustee, “A critical part of this is introducing young minds to the uses and benefits of precast concrete building systems early in the education process.”
On October 22, at the 2007 PCI Convention in Phoenix, Arizona, the Foundation will announce several new programs, one of which represents a highly innovative approach to building precast-related content into college and university curricula. This program was modeled after a very successful program established by PCI Producer Member Spancrete Industries in cooperation with the University of Wisconsin.
Under its Architectural Design Studio program, the Foundation will work directly with college and university architecture programs to institute a laboratory for student design experimentation in the creative application of current precast concrete design concepts.
The big news: The Foundation’s first Architectural Design Studio has been established, with students already enrolled, at the Illinois Institute of Technology.
In addition to providing details on its plans and structure, the Foundation will make several other
program announcements at the PCI Convention. If you plan to be in Phoenix, make sure to attend the
Convention Opening Session on Monday, October 22. If not, watch for the next issue of
inFORM for more information!
New Publications and Promotional Tools
PCI has a wealth of new and soon-to-be-released publications and promotional tools:
- The third edition of the Architectural Precast Concrete manual came off the presses in mid-September and will be available for purchase at the PCI Convention in Phoenix, Ariz. This fully revised edition includes a bonus DVD and new sections on energy management, condensation control, blast resistance, and sustainability.
- Designing with Prestressed, Precast Concrete, a comprehensive primer on precast concrete for architects and specifiers, is being introduced at this year’s PCI Convention. This expandable ring binder will be distributed initially to the top 2000 design firms in the United States.
- A new design guide, Seismic Design of Precast, Prestressed Concrete Structures, offers clear approaches for applying the seismic design provisions of ACI 318, ASCE 7, and IBC 2003. A companion educational seminar, “Designing for Earthquakes,” will debut at the PCI Convention.
- An update to the 2006 Fire Safe Construction Cost Comparison Study on life cycle costs that compares precast concrete with alternative systems, anticipated for 2008.
- Joints in Precast Parking Structures, an article in the current issue of the PCI Journal, explains how to consistently achieve high quality joints in precast parking structures. The article was produced by a Parking Structure Committee Fast Team.
- A study on parking structure lighting, debunking a persistent misconception that illuminating precast parking structures is more difficult and expensive, will be published in the November-December 2007 PCI Journal.
- A new brochure promoting the versatility of precast concrete systems for residential applications will be introduced at the PCI Convention.
- A long-awaited update to the PCI Certification brochure highlights the benefits of specifying PCI-Certified plants, personnel, and erection.
PCI has also recently produced a number of promotional programs outlining the benefits of precast concrete versus competing systems, including a multi-page “advertorial” in Architectural Record promoting precast concrete for the school market, a new Housing Education course created for the National Association of Home Builders promoting precast concrete for the residential market, and a dramatic video demonstrating the tornado resistance of precast concrete sandwich wall panels versus other wall systems.
All of these publications are available through our online bookstore (www.pci.org/publications/store) or contact PCI publications coordinator, Steve Pakal, at (312) 583-6775.
PCI Tackles Codes and Standards
The Main Show. PCI is directly supporting six building code change proposals for the 2009 International Building Code. Jason Krohn, PCI Technical Activities Director, has distributed the code change proposals to PCI members for comment. “Members can often provide specific information, examples, and details to help us support these code changes before the ICC,” he states. “They can also confirm that the proposed wording is not subject to misinterpretation.”
The PCI-proposed code changes, which include a detailed explanation and supporting information, can be downloaded from www.pci.org/news/code_updates/. The proponent of a code change proposal must defend its reasoning before an ICC code committee during a code development hearing. The next such hearing will be held on February 18 – March 2, 2008 in Palm Springs, California. Jason would like to receive all comments before the end of 2007 so he can properly prepare for this hearing.
PCI encourages interested members to attend the hearings and help support the proposed code changes. The more PCI people that are there, the better—each attendee has a maximum allotted time to address the committee in support or opposition of a code change proposal.
More Code Activities. Other PCI Codes and Standards priorities include:
- Resisting recent efforts to modify the structural integrity provisions of ACI 318 without sufficient basis. This issue has drawn recent attention in the context of blast-resistant design.
- Developing and proposing code changes regarding fire rating of joints in enclosed parking structures and criteria to define an “open” parking structure design.
- Validating and codifying seismic design methodology for precast concrete diaphragms. This program includes a half-scale shake table test to be conducted in early 2008.
- Examining the potential impact of current IBC requirements that insulated wall assemblies for buildings in excess of one story are tested pursuant to NFPA 285. While not so intended, this provision applies by default to precast concrete insulated sandwich wall panels.
Code-Related Publications. Two new PCI publications are targeted at building code officials and to the architectural and engineering community. The soon-to-be-released Seismic Design of Precast, Prestressed Concrete Structures has an entire chapter devoted to the latest seismic design philosophy for large-panel, precast concrete buildings. The recently updated Design for Fire Resistance is in the final stages of formal acceptance by the IAS Evaluation Service, and will be co-published with ICC in 2008.
Code-Related Education. PCI is working with the Institute for Business and Home Safety on an educational video targeted to national and local building code officials. Finally, a PCI Fire Code Notebook, designed as a promotional tool to guide local code officials in the application of fire codes to precast concrete structures, is in the early stages of development.
Code Issues in the Marketplace. In 2007, the PCI Marketing Committee created a Codes Task Group to provide input to the Technical Activities Committee on code issues impacting the marketability of precast concrete building systems. In this way, both technical and marketing perspectives define PCI’s direction regarding code and regulatory issues.
If you would like more information or are interested in becoming involved in PCI Codes and Standards
activities, contact Jason Krohn (email Jason Krohn)
or Brian Miller (email Brian Miller) at PCI headquarters.
Education Gains Momentum
PCI’s new strategic Educational Activities Committee was established last year in order to build and oversee a coordinated set of learning programs that meet the educational needs of the industry and its marketplace. The process began by identifying educational needs and opportunities, both inside and outside the industry, relating to precast concrete design and technology. Beginning this year, existing programs are being adapted, and new programs created, to gradually build a full complement of educational programs.
Current educational offerings are summarized below. All offer professional development hours (PDH) and health, safety, and welfare (HSW) continuing education credits; certificates are provided at the conclusion of the seminar. See the PCI website ( www.pci.org/education/seminars) for the latest schedule of dates and locations.
Basic Prestressed Concrete Design – Engineers and design professionals who do not regularly design precast concrete structures will gain a solid understanding of the fundamentals of prestressed concrete design, using the PCI Design Handbook 6th edition as a tool. Design methods will be applied using a specific design example. This interactive seminar will include a plant tour, providing participants with a clear understanding of the interplay of design concepts and fabrication considerations. (7.5 PDH / 7.5 HSW)
Designing with Architectural Precast Concrete – Oriented primarily to architects, this broad-scope seminar reviews the just-released 3rd edition of Architectural Precast Concrete (included). Learning tracks include an overview, aesthetic possibilities and design economy, design concepts, design considerations and detailing, and sustainability. (6.75 PDH / 6.75 HSW)
Designing Precast Concrete Structures – This seminar is intended for engineering and architectural design professionals, contractors, estimators, consultants, and plant engineers who regularly design or analyze precast concrete buildings. The seminar focuses on new or updated design methods, particularly those driven by building code changes. Using the PCI Design Handbook 6th edition (included) as a reference, the seminar examines specific design needs for handling snow, wind, and seismic conditions as well as creating lateral, flexural, and compression designs. Connection technology is also reviewed. (7.5 PDH / 7.5 HSW)
Improving Accessibility. PCI education programs are traditionally delivered live, at the PCI Convention, through stand-alone seminars and workshops, through “Box Lunch” presentations, and at MCPX. To make these programs as accessible and cost-effective as possible to members, PCI is currently developing methods to deliver education programs over the Internet.
“The concept that learning and professional advancement should be able to happen ‘
anytime, anywhere’ is really a great step in maintaining our competitive edge,”
says Mike Potts, PCI’s Education Director. In order to get these programs started, Mike
is looking for volunteers for pilot programs. Members interested in participating in a pilot
group should contact him (312 583 6784 /
email Michael Potts).
FHWA Taps PCI for Precast Pavement Technology Transfer
On September 12, 2007, PCI was awarded a cooperative agreement with the Federal Highway Administration
for support of technology transfer relating to precast concrete pavement systems. “This is essentially
a contract under which PCI will conduct activities for FHWA relating to the development and sharing of
technological information, including organizing an expert task group, conducting committee meetings,
and publishing information,” explains John Dick, PCI Transportation Systems Director. The total
value of the contract is $1.3 million over a four-year period.
New Ad Sales Team to Serve PCI Members
Advertising by PCI members is a critical lifeline of support for PCI’s periodical publications (PCI Journal, Ascent, Aspire, annual Membership Directory). At the same time, exposure in these top-flight periodicals creates business opportunities for the advertisers. It’s a great relationship, one that we continuously strive to improve by soliciting feedback.
It was member feedback, in fact, that led PCI to change its advertising sales representation beginning in 2008. Those of you who have advertised in Aspire may already know Jim Oestmann of Arlington Publishers Representatives Inc. in Arlington Heights, Ill. PCI recently tapped Jim and his team to additionally assume ad sales responsibility for Ascent, the PCI Journal, the PCI Member Directory, and the PCI Convention Guide.
“PCI offers a variety of vehicles that members can leverage for their marketing and advertising efforts,” notes Jenn Atkin, PCI Publications Manager. “Our new ad sales team is available to help members make the best media buy decisions for their businesses, and to offer top-notch service on all of our advertisers’ accounts.”
Jim Oestmann, his associate Rob Brockley, or one of their staff will soon be in contact with PCI
Member firms to discuss advertising for 2008. Updated media kits will be available in print at
the PCI Convention and online at the PCI website.
Advances in PCI Web Technology
Building a Better Bookstore. By the end of 2007, PCI’s online bookstore will be revamped, with improved search and ordering functions. Online order processing will be streamlined, allowing faster processing. The new bookstore will require a login; login information will be emailed in advance to members. The PCI booth at this year’s Convention will showcase more details.
Creative Communication for Committees. A new system, currently in “beta-testing,”
will allow PCI committee members to manage committee activities, including reviewing and balloting
documents, online. The new committee management system, called Committee Central, will
centralize committee activity information, including meeting minutes,
agendas, ballots, and documents in progress, making them available to
members 24 hours a day. The PCI CMS is similar to the system ACI uses. The
committees currently testing CMS are Sustainability and Precast Sandwich Wall Panels. Handouts
on how CMS works will be distributed to committee chairs and shared with committee members at
this year’s Convention. CMS demonstrations will be conducted at the PCI booth in the
Convention Exhibit Hall.
Special Limited-Time Offer on PCI “Libraries”
For a limited time, PCI members can purchase “Libraries” of related PCI publications at 50% to 60% below the separate price total. For example, the Benefactor's Library includes many of the technical basics perfect for students and professionals first starting out in the precast/prestressed concrete industry, including the PCI Design Handbook 6th edition, PCI Standard Design Practices, Standard Connections, Fundamentals of Prestressed Concrete Design, and many others. “This members-only package costs just $99 and would make an excellent donation to a local college or trade school,” says Jenn Atkin, PCI Publications Manager. “We hope that it will be a tool for our members to build relationships, create some positive PR, and help prepare the next generation of precast concrete industry employees.”
Other special packages include an Engineer's Library, an Architect's Library, a
GFRC Library, a Parking Structures Library, a Bridge Library, a Safety Library,
an Architectural Precast Concrete Library, and a Seismic Library. For more information,
including prices and title listings, visit the PCI website (
If You’re Reading This, You Probably Qualify for a FREE PCI Professional Membership
PCI is offering a free Professional Membership to anyone who is an employee of a PCI Member firm AND meets the
requirements of PCI Professional membership. Don’t miss out on the benefits of PCI Professional Membership!
For more information, contact Cindi Ward (312 360 3214 / email Cindi Ward).