Volume 42, Issue 6 - June 2007

the Farnady Files
The Times, They Are a Changing
Getting Information Today is Different Than in the Past
by Dez Farnady

Not so many years ago major publishing companies had the construction business just where they wanted it. Suppliers and manufacturers had to pay someone a lot of money to print up their slick product and price catalogs. Then they had to pay a lot again for a publishing house to include them in the annual consolidated product book. The next year’s book would be pretty much the same as the current one, but if you wanted to be in it I think you had to pay again. And then the architectural firm or manufacturer that wanted the information would have to pay a chunk again to buy the consolidated volumes for their own library. 

Everybody had huge and frequently outdated information libraries along with the individual product binders and catalogs. Back in the olden days I would drive my horse and buggy down to Ye Ole Architect and ask for permission to update “my binder.” Even though the binder was in his office, it was still, in fact, the property of my company so I had some sort of right to it and could even remove it if I wanted to. Generally, we got the binder and removed the obsolete information and replaced it with new information. 

Remember When
What made me remember the bad old days was a request from an architect for “printed material.” I had to scurry to find some. When I mailed him our catalog, or what’s left of it, I noticed his name and address. That shock is what brought this article forth. I remembered his name, because I remembered his retired partner whose first name was the same as mine and there are not very many of us (at least not in this country). I remember calling on his firm more than 30 years ago to update “my binder” and obviously to try and get him to spec my product. I don’t think I succeeded then and may not succeed now.

Changing Times
I did not have the heart to ask him if he had a calendar, or a computer. If he had a calendar he would have realized that we are seven years into the 21st century. If he had a computer he would have realized that Microsoft and friends have enabled us to park the entire architectural product library on the head of a pin. And, if he had a couple of teenage kids, they would have introduced him to the Internet and therein the world’s largest architectural library at his fingertips. 

Up until a few years ago we still had to chase the salesmen from the door who were trying to sell a high-priced service that was to be an Internet version of the old book system. The idea was that if we paid them for a listing, they would convince architects to go online to find us. Of course, the system was the same as the old book. The architect would find us there, all right, but all they got was a link that put them directly on to the website we had to generate and pay for. I guess I will just have to Google it to see if they still exist and to see if anyone is still dumb enough to pay for what the big search engines provide for free. 

We would like to make as much information available as fast and as effectively as possible. Check the website of every major or even minor player in the glass business or the construction industry for that matter. It is the fastest and most complete cache of architectural information you can ever experience. 

If you want to upgrade your old printed information it may or may not be just a matter of money, but it is certainly a matter of the time. Imagine trying to do with the old print media system what I concluded recently. We completed and installed a new and very different project on a Friday and, by the following Wednesday, I had the new digital interior and exterior art work on our website for anyone to see. The information age is a boon to this business and you need to ride the wave like the big surf at Mavericks or the North Shore or you will be buried under the flood of available information. Or you can just sit on the shore and wait for the print media to catch up and end up being left high and dry. 

The Author: Dez Farnady serves as the general manager of Royalite Manufacturing Inc., a skylight manufacturer in San Carlos, Calif. Mr. Farnady’s opinions are solely his own and not necessarily those of this magazine. His column appears monthly.


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