Professional Development – Truss Design A Trick My Day Job Never Taught Me That GDI Did – Part 12

Professional Development – Truss Design A Trick My Day Job Never Taught Me That GDI Did – Part 12

Prior to working in the truss industry, I was a self-taught master mechanic with the help of my father and Uncle and a lot of dedication on my part. I joined the U.S. Army to pay for college to become a drafter/designer and eventually realized the difference. I remember my first day in the truss industry was actually my first full-time job in Florida. I was hired for maintenance in a Truss Plant who was more interested in production rather than the shape of their equipment.

My second job in the industry was as a truss builder/table leader. Then I finally found a company that was willing to train me for a design position. This company used an old DOS-based drafting software and MiTek 4.2 software (remember that?). At this point I had never even used a computer and realistically computers were not as advanced as they are today. However; as grateful as I was for the opportunity, the company’s Idea of training was to place me in front of a computer and turn me loose. Seems this is typical in the industry! Then the software crashes came, the lost layouts due to power surges or loss thereof from file/data corruption.


Basically, with minimal help and as I advanced in the outdated software, the company I was working for was keeping up with demand and updated to new software. This forced the need to relearn new software all while becoming proficient in truss design. Now I know there is a lot of controversy on the time limit needed for a person to become an effective truss designer, due to the knowledge necessary to perform the actual duties, such as:

  • MiTek layout interface
  • MiTek engineering interface
  • MBA (MiTek Business Application)
  • Necessary math skills (Run, Rise and Pitch concept

Add in the skill-set needed for plan interpretation (which is an art within itself) that challenges our interpersonal skills to the max and calls for answer or to give constructive feedback or alternative solutions. Some companies do not allow the new designers taking up to much of the experienced designer’s time for productivity reasons. Add in the fact that a lot of the experienced designers were hesitant to show you how anyway. They had job security issues! I had a hard time with computer software being from hands on mechanical side.


Now back around 2002 I first met Christopher & Richard Gould as we all worked for the same company in South Florida and they both had the same philosophy I did. That philosophy is “I/we would rather teach someone else what we know and help with the work load rather than keep what we know to ourselves  along with the burden of the size of the work load.” In short allow the student to become the teacher. Although the pie doesn’t get bigger, it definitely tastes better because we actually get to enjoy it!

Since that time we moved on to bigger and better things and grew apart. But we have witnessed and experienced our share of unfair and unforgiving bosses and co-workers. Due to the 2008 economic collapse, a lot of companies don’t exist anymore. I know from personal experience because I worked for a company which treated the sister company whom I worked for like vendors/ another company rather than people with a common goal. They ended up selling out to other companies.

While struggling through the “Great Recession”, I lost everything I owned, and by 2010 I had the misfortune to experience the long-term fallout of this financial crisis. Now, just recently, I came across a former coworker Neil Laporte who has been working for Gould Design, Inc. for some time and has worked with Christopher, Richard & I back in 2002 for that same company in South Florida. Here’s the true definition of irony: While working for the same company, I was Neil’s mentor at that time…….now with GDI he is my mentor! This bond that was created back then allowed each of us to work together without hesitation.  It also reminded me of what we used to tell each other when we lost our job to a power surge or corrupt data when the job is due tomorrow.


This kind of relationship is not just made overnight. However; it is a part of one’s personality and presented in our everyday coping skills as we communicate to one another. It is a support group inadvertently created by people with like interests, beliefs and goals within a unit/team, whether it’s  family, friends or coworkers or even a difficult customer which we all come across or become ourselves at times. This is one thing a lot of companies neglect to acknowledge and it is where they go astray. The familiar saying say:  “TO ERR IS HUMAN TO FORGIVE IS DIVINE.” Now I (we all) have worked in a close-quarter office setting and sometimes cannot seem to get the help when needed, so we have to work through it as best we can, only to have someone pick apart every little thing we did to overcome the issue in the first place. Sometimes the solution is as simple as slapping your forehead and saying “I could’ve had a V8”, but at that particular time the easy answer evaded us. In fact, I was expecting it myself!

I started a few short weeks ago with GDI in Professional Development, after being out of the industry for around 5 years. What I have witnessed during my Professional Development, even with the constant mistakes I have made, is that I was part of a team and that if I failed, the team failed. I was reminded of this in three simple but effective ways.

  1. First and foremost The President of the company first invited me to read a book titled “How Full Is Your Bucket”, as he does with all his new associates. This was extremely helpful on a personal level as well as in a business sense!
  2. Second, as I was being set up by knowledgeable people who understood the fact I had been out of the industry for some time, as I was breathing a sigh of relief it dawned on me: The assistance I am receiving isn’t even in the same state or even the same country for that matter!
  3. Third and most important: If you mold the individual as well as you mold the Keystone of the building how long will the relationship between the two last?

You can read Part 1 in this series here.

You can read Part 2 in this series here.

You can read Part 3 in this series here.

You can read Part 4 in this series here.

You can read Part 5 in this series here.

You can read Part 6 in this series here.

You can read Part 7 in this series here.

You can read Part 8 in this series here.

You can read Part 9 in this series here.

You can read Part 10 in this series here.

You can read Part 11 in this series here.

Stay tuned for Part 13.

JD Vacey – Design Professional

Gould Design, Inc.