Member Spotlight: Brian Stroik
The Air Barrier Association of America (ABAA) dives inside the career of Brian Stroik, National Strategic Accounts Sales Director for Tremco Sealants & Waterproofing in Beachwood, OH, and chair of the ABAA. In this feature interview, learn what made him become an ABAA member, what led him on his career path, and get his perspective on the future of the air barrier industry. For Brian, peers, mentors, and advisors have played a major part in his career. Find out who he attributes to this success and why.
Brian Stroik is a recognized industry leader in the construction of energy-efficient, sustainable, and durable buildings.
Brian works with key industry organizations – including the Air Barrier Association of America, the National Building Enclosure Council, the Building Enclosure Technology and Environmental Council (BETEC), and ASTM E06 – on research and education regarding building enclosures, energy efficiency, retrofitting and upgrading existing building enclosures.
Brian is a frequent speaker on the subjects of: commissioning the building enclosure (BECx), quality in construction, and mock-ups / first run studies. Brian has also chaired numerous speaker sessions at national conferences and hosted roundtable discussions. He holds the following industry positions and affiliations:
- Past Chair, National Building Enclosure Council (NBEC)
- Chair and a Director, Air Barrier Association of America (ABAA): Past Chair Research Committee
- Advisory Board Member, Building Enclosure Technology and Environmental Council (BETEC a Council of the National Institute of Building Sciences – NIBS), Washington, DC
- Founder and Chair, Building Enclosure Council of Wisconsin (BEC-WI)
- Voting member of ASTM E06 – Building Performance
- Senior Member, American Society of Quality (ASQ)
- Certified, American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE)
White papers by Mr. Stroik on the subjects of building energy efficiency and building enclosure design, among others, have been published in The Journal of Energy Efficiency & Reliability, The Journal of Building Enclosure Design and SprayFoam Magazine.
Name: Brian Stroik
Title: National Strategic Accounts Sales Director
Firm: Tremco Sealants & Waterproofing
City: Beachwood, OH
ABAA member for 17 years
What was the path to your career — how and why did you pursue a profession in the building industry?
A: My career has had a fun and twisting path. My degree is in psychology, and I intended to go on for a master’s with a final career path of college coaching in track and field. Instead, as I was taking my last finals at Marquette University, I found myself also taking the entrance test for the Carpenter Apprenticeship program in Wisconsin. From there I worked my up to a Superintendent, and in 2003 took a job as a Quality Manager for a large national construction company. They allowed me to get involved with national organizations like BETEC, ASTM, and form BEC-WI. When I moved over to Tremco Sealants & Waterproofing the position was focused on developing a program to help construction managers with their quality program. Now I find myself leading a veteran group of industry experts within the Tremco CPG Brand who are working on building relationships with the various entities in our industry.
Is there anything that you believe everyone in this industry should be working towards?
A: Education, education, and finally education. As a speaker for ABAA, I have been fortunate to travel the country and meet so many people. The one constant we have found at every symposium, there is a range of knowledge within the attendees: from the 101 – just learning the basics, to a few people at a “doctorate” level attending. We also know our understanding of building science is continually evolving. Take Former ABAA Chairman Roy Schauffele’s patent on the Perfect Wall (submitted in April 2004), and how it is now being recognized as a necessity in our current energy codes and ASHRAE standards. With so many buildings having issues after being built, we need to educate as many people as possible on good construction, along with the need for good quality assurance programs like ABAA’s QAP.
What role have peers, mentors, or advisors played in your career?
A: HUGE, my first real mentor in the building enclosure genre was Mr. Wagdy Anis, one of the founders of ABAA and main contributors to what we now call building enclosure commissioning. Throughout the 20+ years of focusing on the building enclosure I have been very fortunate to have had a number of mentors, and more importantly, friends who have assisted me in my journey. I really believe the key is listening to them. They have “been there” and done so much, I would not be who I am today if it were not for the likes of; Wagdy Anis, Laverne Dalgleish, Chris Mathis, Bill Nash, Andre Desjarlais, and Roy Schauffele. These individuals went out o their way to answer my questions, mentor me in associations, and provide advice on everything from work to just life, on a continual basis. I have been very fortunate in this arena.
What led you to become an ABAA member?
A: I had been involved with other organizations that I felt had “stalled out”. I saw ABAA as an organization with good leadership and direction. It was doing something to make a difference. I also knew a number of people on the Board of Directors and they were continually “asking” me to join.
Are you involved in any ABAA committees? Do you have any ABAA certifications?
A: As the current Chair of ABAA, I try to attend as many committee meetings as possible. Prior to becoming Chair of ABAA, I was the chair of the Research Committee and actively participated in the Marketing Committee, Technical Committee, and QAP Committees.
How long have you been in the industry?
A: I have been looking at blueprints and walking jobsites since about 3 years old. My father owned a construction company and worked out of the basement of our house when I was young. So, I would go down to see what he was doing, and he used to take me on job visits as well. I am a third-generation carpenter and had no choice but to learn construction from a young age. I fondly recall my grandfather teaching me how to set up and use a transit when about eight years old. I have been getting paid in the construction industry for almost 30 years.
What major changes have you seen?
A: Faster construction requirements with the same expectations of quality. Some of the most intelligent individuals I have ever known are construction Superintendents. They are asked to do it faster, safer, and better on every project – and the good ones do just that! The design and construction of the building enclosure has changed so much over the last 20 years. From air barriers finally being recognized as something different than vapor retarders and the use of continuous insulation for better thermal performance, the industry has really changed on how we design and build the exterior of our buildings over the last 20 years.
What traits or skills do you think are necessary to be able to succeed in your industry?
A: The ability to listen and ask questions. There are so many people out there with unique stories and experiences, coupled with all of the ways we build, where we build, and new standards and codes having us change our normal mode of operations. I really enjoy meeting people and hearing how they solved some strange conditions in their workspace.
Do you have any advice for anyone starting out in your field?
A: Education, listen, and get involved! There are so many people willing to help in this industry, take advantage of that. Also, realize the “real” education that takes place out of the 9 to 5 normal work arena. Go to a conference, ASTM meeting, or symposium. Sit by someone you do not know at lunch, ask questions, and listen. Ask them to dinner or if you can join them for a drink afterwards. Finally, as a young person, please do not feel the need to qualify yourself (being there and listening to people does this for you) and tell potential mentors everything you know…. instead, listen to what they are saying, ask more questions and suck it all in.
How much demand do you think there is for people in your profession?
A: I believe there is a huge demand for people who understand not only good construction practices but also know the “trust but verify” of quality assurance. I really believe in the 80/20 Rule – and that most of our tradespeople are proud of their work and do an amazing job. However, we still need to verify things are properly installed. Unfortunately, in our industry, there are three opportunities for failures: design, materials, and installation and I have seen all three cause problems on projects.
What do you think the industry will look like in five or ten year’s time?
A: I am hoping there will be more acceptance to the current changes in codes and standards, knowledge of quality assurance practices, and building science, along with a continued effort to design and build energy-efficient buildings. We know how to do this NOW. We can demonstrate ROI for building it better (without going off the deep end with crazy requirements) and we have great processes to ensure it is done correctly. We need to better educate Owners on this, so they understand the value of better buildings and demand their buildings have: good materials (ABAA evaluate air barriers), qualified installers (ABAA Certified air barrier installers), and a quality assurance program (ABAA QAP) as part of construction. Then we will be on way to healthier, durable, and sustainable building.