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Building relationships with architects can improve fabric structure businesses

Projects | November 1, 2017 | By:

Want to do more business with architects? Mary Gilmore, AIA, NCIDQ, and Mark Shellshear, Structure Fabrics, Value Vinyls Inc., have many ideas. Gilmore and Shellshear shared those ideas Sept. 26 at IFAI Expo 2017.

Gilmore noted, “Architects are very busy. Cold calls don’t work. They are very visual; they need pictures.” A good website with quality photos of projects is important, and shade business owners can get their foot in the door by dropping off product literature and samples.

She also mentioned that architects don’t like writing specs; if possible, provide project specs for the architects to save time and effort.

Gilmore and Shellshear both agreed that a lunch and learn is a good tactic to start building connections with architects. Shellshear said that at a lunch and learn, “I always get someone who wants me to look at a project. I don’t always get the project, but I make the connection.”

Shellshear reviewed the types of fabric structures that exist, including air inflated, air supported, cable net, frame supported, geodesic dome, grid shell, tensegrity, tensile, and retractable. He also reviewed the components, fabrics and uses of each application.

He noted, “Design usually starts with the architect. It’s very important to have a relationship with an architect, so they understand what fabric can and cannot do.”

Both Gilmore and Shellshear mentioned that it’s important to know one’s business audience; in other words, understand what an architect specializes in, then bring project photos that align with that specialty. And don’t forget to tell the story behind the project. That is one more way to connect with architects who are used to solving problems.

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