We're About to Cut the Ribbon

Katie BodifordBy Katie Bodiford
Executive Vice President


If you’ve ever opened a new store, or even remodeled one, you know all the details that go into opening your doors for business. Not only do you have to decide on the location, find or build the building, and figure out how to layout the floor. But what items do you stock and where do you put them on the shelves? And how much do you charge for those items? How many people do you need to staff your store and do you need to do a soft open before you advertise and market the business?

We’ve been going through many of the same rigors as we prepare to launch our new learning management system – Foundation. Our team, along with the Western Building Material Association, has been working round the clock to develop courses for your employees that will help in them in every conceivable area of your business. We researched equipment, created a film studio, have gone live on jobsites, designed, edited and have produced learning modules that are specific to our industry. And folks, it’s good stuff. That’s not to toot our horn but more to assure you that we have spent countless hours making sure that the courses we’re about to launch are top notch (especially our Director of Digital Content, Debbie Brady, who has nearly gone cross-eyed editing untold hours of video). Could we have opened the proverbial doors of our business a bit sooner? Sure. But, it’s the tweaks and the tests and the second glances that are our own version of quality control. We think you’ll be proud of the result.

Enough about how we got here. Let’s talk about the platform. Foundation is essentially an online catalog where we will continually add new content in a variety of subject areas. So, what are we launching with? Here’s a sneak peek:

Introduction to Building Material Sales (6 modules)
Instructor:  Casey Voorhees, Western Building Material Association

Foundation to Finish – Learn the ins and outs of residential construction and how the products you sell everyday are used out on the jobsite.

Lumber Basics
– From lumber species to stamps and grading to the fundamentals of lumber math, this comprehensive overview is a great summary course for new or experienced employees.

Deck Construction
– This module provides a quick overview of the products used in typical deck construction projects including the platform and the railing.

Engineered Wood
– What are the types of engineered wood? This module describes what these products are comprised of as well as how and why they may be used.

Project Selling
– This course teaches your sales team how to sell a project complete and increase customer satisfaction by making sure they have everything needed to complete a particular project.

Profit and Losses
– What’s the difference between mark-up and margin? How are profits made and how can you protect those profits by deterring loss?

Each one of the modules in this series can be taken individually or bundled for a discount if you buy the whole series. You may have heard of our “Nuts and Bolts” class… well, this is the online version and we think you’ll like the enhancements that online learning allows. We’re able to incorporate the narrative of our instructor along with video footage from the jobsite as well as helpful graphics and other tools to help students retain what they learn. Can you tell I’m a little excited?

We’re also launching with a few modules on the basics of the onboarding process. Because most of our members don’t have large HR departments staffed with dozens of folks, we’re shedding some light on how to make sure the way you bring new employees on board is not only compliant with current regulations but is also a positive experience for both you and the new hire. Here’s a look at the modules we’ll debut in this area:

Onboarding Basics
Instructor:  Dawn Stastny, Stellaris Group

The 4 Cs of Onboarding – A thorough overview of the four cornerstones of the onboarding process: compliance, culture, connection and communication.

Stumbling Blocks – Here’s a great primer on the challenges faced in the sometimes-daunting process of post-hire employee orientation.

Timelines – So what are the necessary tasks to check off the list on the day of hire as well as the first week, month, 6 months and even the 1-year anniversary of employment?

And, like our Introduction to Building Materials Sales course, you can also watch all three and take advantage of the bundled pricing!

There are a couple other features of this system I wanted to share with you. The first is what’s known as Gradebook Access. For a nominal fee per year, your company will receive a code that all employees will use when setting up their accounts. Then, you will simply designate a “facilitator” who can log-in and have access to the gradebook of all your employees including the classes they’ve taken and their progress on any they’ve been assigned. This customized level of access will be an invaluable tool for companies of all sizes to have up-to-the-minute knowledge of how their employees are utilizing the system.

Another function of Foundation is the ability to have a company “portal” into the system. What does this mean? Think of it as a personalized landing page for your company that you can tailor to your own individual needs. The main page, or “splash” page, will feature your logo and can be designed however you’d like. How about a welcome video from company leadership or a checklist of training you’d like new hires to complete in a certain timeframe? There are several different price points from which to choose. You may consider upgrading your portal to have complimentary Gradebook Access as well as your own content loaded onto the LMS. This will allow you to add testing as well as monitor their progress… even issue your own custom certificates. It’s an exciting option and one I hope many of you take advantage of as you move into the online learning world.

It’s been a long road to get here but I think it’s safe to say that we are within just a few weeks of our launch and soon you’ll have the opportunity to train your team in a cost-effective and, most of all, convenient method. I do ask a favor, however. Do we have this whole online learning thing perfected yet? I’d be remiss to say we do. Just like opening that new store, there will be some kinks we have to work out along the way and, for that, we kindly ask you to be patient with us. But even with that caveat, I’m thrilled to know that we’ll soon be able to meet your educational needs and maybe even help you take your employee training to a new level.

Today we are launching the official website for Foundation. It can be found at www.foundationlms.org. Check it out. Let us know what you think. And, as always, feel free to ask questions. We’re on this journey together and, believe me, it’s going to be a heckuva fun ride.