The third entry in a series of articles about L&W Supply’s training efforts. This week’s article highlights our visit to ClarkDietrich in Dallas, TX.
Earlier this summer, a group of L&W Supply sales associates visited ClarkDietrich Building System’s manufacturing plant in Dallas, Texas for a two day training event. The visit consisted of hands-on training, a tour of the plant, selling scenarios, and various learning sessions centered around metal framing and accessories.
ClarkDietrich, a key partner of L&W Supply, is a national leader in their field with over 50 engineers specializing in cold-formed steel framing. As an organization, they place great value on in-depth knowledge of not only their product catalog, but the steel market in general. Let’s take a closer look at the training session and what our team learned along the way.
The first part of the training was a tour of the facility. The ClarkDietrich Dallas manufacturing plant is a full-service center where steel and metal are engineered into various shapes and sizes. Associates got the chance to witness the manufacturing of stud and track from end-to-end, starting with the arrival of steel via truck and finishing with the packing and shipment phase.
Starting with the original steel coil, the steel is slit into the specified size in order to form a steel stud. Not all steel framing plants slit their own steel, which allows ClarkDietrich to be more agile when responding to customer requests.
Throughout the tour, we were able to observe their quality process in action as every piece of steel is labeled in order to track it back to the original coil from which it was cut. This allows for enhanced quality regulation by making it easy to determine if a specific shipment or batch has an issue. Along the way, we saw a few of their other engineering capabilities, such as clips and the machines that create lath.
Next was a presentation of various key terms and concepts surrounding galvanized steel and metal framing. We were given a crash course of structural engineering, learning the fundamentals of how joints are created in order to prevent web crippling, along with important stud requirements. Then we covered the specifics of structural framing and interior finishing, including wall headers, bridging options, drywall, and lath accessories.
After this, we were shown an overview of their product catalog, from steel studs and framing solutions, to corner beads and trims, to clips, connectors, and bridging equipment. We learned various terms from the steel market along with some of ClarkDietrich’s key value-added products, including Spazzer Bridging Bars, which allow for quicker installation of interior steel studs, and Barrier Mesh, high-strength steel mesh which provides an added layer of protection and security to walls and ceilings. Through these sessions, we got to see some of the biggest pushes that ClarkDietrich is making in combining materials in order to reduce steps for contractors.
Additionally, ClarkDietrich features a number of technical and engineering services through their representatives and the resources on their website, allowing contractors to quickly contact experts in order to access the information they need. Among these resources, the iTools hub is one of the most widely used, allowing customers to search their entire product catalog with specific design parameters, utilize cost savings calculators, and quickly generate product submittals through SubmittalPro®.
As always, there is no greater way to solidify learning than to do it yourself. The next step in the training was the hands-on metal framing installation, where associates were taken through the basics of framing a wall and doorframe. With a mock frame set up at the corners, our associates began creating the rest of the frame by installing track and studs.
The installation helped solidify our product training, as well as giving us a glimpse into our customers’ world. Step-by-step, we got to experience the same difficulties that many of our contractors face, which helped put things in perspective. When working with steel directly, you begin to appreciate more the time-saving advantages that companies like ClarkDietrich bring to jobsites.
The goal of training sessions like this is to give our associates the knowledge and resources they need in order to provide superior service. When customers enter our branches, we want them to feel confident that their needs will be met better and easier than any other supplier. A crucial part of this is the experience and insight that our associates possess, which is why partners like ClarkDietrich are such an important part of that success.
From all of us here at L&W Supply, we would like to thank ClarkDietrich for opening their doors and taking the time to educate us on what makes them remarkable. When vendors and suppliers come together to learn from one another, the end result is world-class service for all of our contractors and customers.