A New Energy and Focus at the Steel Deck Institute
“Our goal at the Steel Deck Institute is to grow the overall market size of steel deck so it’s used in new ways and is not replaced by other building materials,” said Michael Martignetti, the current President of the Steel Deck Institute (SDI).
Martignetti plans to blend the rich history and expertise of SDI’s membership to continue to build credibility for steel deck while looking to the future. “Over the last five to 10 years, we’ve spent a lot of focus coming up with industry standards and getting them incorporated into the building codes,” Martignetti said. As a result, SDI standards have widely been adopted by specifying architects and structural engineers across the country. However, Martignetti added, “we need to continue to maintain credibility for the product within the design community.”
Moving forward, Martignetti’s agenda for SDI includes additional efforts in three key areas:
- Marketing and promotion of steel deck
- Outreach and engagement
Marketing and promotion of steel deck
SDI has focused significant effort on coming up with industry-standard designs and getting them incorporating them into the building codes. While continuing to build credibility for the product within the design community, Martignetti said the next step is to focus a little more on the promotion of steel deck as a building material and ensure its value and benefits over alternate building materials are understood.
“We have a strong organization,” Martignetti said. However, he notes that other products have popped up positioning themselves as alternatives to steel deck, so it’s important to market the benefits. “We want to make sure that it’s easy to design for steel deck, the benefits and why designers should pick steel deck over other construction materials.”
Part of that marketing and promotion effort includes moving the image of SDI into the modern space.
“If you’re in an environment that looks like it’s 20 years old, then it kind of loses its credibility,” he said. So, a new look and feel for the Steel Deck Institute is emerging, starting with a newly designed website with a fresh look and a focus on the user experience. There will also be new branded materials that go with it to emphasize the new design.
Outreach and engagement
Membership at SDI has doubled over the past 10 years, growing from 13 to 24 members. More members provide a broader base and help the industry to be unified on a single front. At the same time, growing partnerships with other trade associations and restructuring committees will help improve outreach and engagement.
Alliances with other building trade associations
Building stronger alliances with other building trade associations that share common goals will be a key focus. Often, designers are looking at steel vs. wood vs. concrete. “The steel folks need to stick together to emphasize the benefits of steel over both wood and concrete,” Martignetti said.
Cultivating partnerships and working together to increase the overall scale of the message, including organizations such as:
- Steel Joist Institute (SJI)
- American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI)
- American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC)
“We can build an alliance with sister steel organizations and tackle some of the questions together, it can provide a better overall answer for somebody that’s trying to put together a building,” he said.
Formal restructuring of committees
SDI is also reorganizing the committee structure to focus efforts on a three-pronged approach:
- Technical committee: Several different technical committees have been combined into one that will continue to focus on design standards for the industry. The technical committee also works with other industry organizations from a technical standpoint.
- Marketing and education committee: The marketing and education committee focuses on getting the word out and telling the story behind steel deck and its benefits.
- Research committee: The research committee coordinates our research and works with industry organizations and Universities.
Each of these committees has separate missions and projects, but there is also a great degree of overlap, so there will be strong collaboration between the committees.
One of the most significant changes is a newly focused effort on steel deck related research and development. “10 years ago, we spent $0 on research and now we have a significant line item in our budget for research,” Martignetti noted. “Now, we have the baseline standards down, but where do we go from here? How do we find other uses for steel deck?”
Research will be a continuing focus moving forward to help find new applications and build confidence for designers and engineers. Research efforts currently include the University of Wisconsin, the College of New Jersey, and UMass.
Working with Universities provides another excellent benefit. Students learn more about the benefit of steel deck. “These students are going to be the future designers and future users,” Martignetti explained. “They learn about our product and contribute to the future of designing with the product.”
Moving forward for SDI
To move the organization forward, Martignetti sees a renewed effort to help create and update design standards, spread the message about steel deck, and help fuel research to find new uses. All of these efforts require and support an engaged membership.