Member Spotlight: Matthew Copestick
The Air Barrier Association of America (ABAA) dives inside the career of Matthew Copestick, Senior Consultant, Director of Operations and Owner of AEGIS Building Consulting & Commissioning in Cleveland, OH. 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.
Matthew Copestick, RRC, RRO, BECxP, CxA+BE, Licensed ABAA Field Auditor
Matthew Copestick is a Co-Owner, Senior Consultant, and Director of Operations for AEGIS Building Consulting and Commissioning. Matt has spent the majority of his career focusing on Building Envelope projects and issues in the Healthcare and Hospital industries. The majority of this work is dedicated to BECx (Commissioning), Forensic Investigations of enclosure failures, QA / QC oversight of new and replacement projects, and design development and assistance. Working in the Healthcare industry has helped Matt understand the sensitive nature of construction when it comes to working on facilities occupied by potentially at-risk people. Approaching projects with this level of scrutiny has helped the company think through challenges before work begins and provide safe environments while construction is occurring. Additionally, Matt is a RRC / RRO (IIBEC), a Licensed Field Auditor (ABAA), and a BECxP / CxA+BE (University of Wisconsin – Madison).
Name: Matthew Copestick
Title: Senior Consultant, Director of Operations and Owner
Firm: AEGIS Building Consulting & Commissioning
City: Cleveland, OH
What was the path to your career — how and why did you pursue a profession as a Building Envelope Consultant?
A: I’ve been in construction since I was 17 years old. I started with small projects, for friends, to make money for college. When I was 20 I helped build over 20 houses in St. Louis with Habitat for Humanity. After college I pursued re-entry into construction because I missed the hands-on work and wanted to be out from behind a desk. I started with my previous firm in 2007 focusing mostly on roofing. I quickly became a RRO and then a RRC before starting a new company that focused on the Building Envelope in its entirety. While making that transition, I realized that Air Barriers were becoming more and more critical to the building envelope, especially within sensitive buildings (Hospitals, etc.). Since then I have been auditing with ABAA while slowly growing our business.
Is there anything that you believe everyone in this industry should be working towards?
A: Better overall quality and less waste. I believe this can be achieved with more comprehensive designs / details and a better educated and trained workforce.
What role have peers, mentors, or advisors played in your career?
A: Honestly, every role. The only reason I have grown to where I am today is great mentors and supervisors that helped me understand that education is paramount when it comes to advancing the construction process and industry as a whole. They also taught me how to address challenging situations in a team setting to advance the goal of good, achievable construction rather than fighting over how to get there.
What led you to become an ABAA member?
A: As mentioned previously when we transitioned from roofing to the entire building envelope it was important to understand the impact air barriers have in the enclosure systems. ABAA was an easy choice as to where to further my education into air barriers and how they impact building performance and functionality.
Are you involved in any ABAA committees? Do you have any ABAA certifications?
A: I was just accepted onto the Education and Training committee. While we have not started yet I am looking forward to serving on the committee and assisting with this critical part of our industry. I have also been a Licensed Field Auditor for the past 5 years.
How long have you been in the industry?
A: 13 years in Building Envelope focused roles. 19 years in Construction.
What major changes have you seen?
A: Overall codes are becoming more strict and buildings are becoming more complex. Materials are becoming more reliable and easy to work with, but the rate at which they are pushed to the market is staggering when you think about how to train installers to ensure they are installing them correctly. I think ABAA and several manufacturers are doing a great job in emphasizing the importance of training when it comes to the installation of new products. Also, architects are starting to rely on consultants more to ensure their design and details are complete before they are issued.
What traits or skills do you think are necessary to be able to succeed in your industry?
A: The ability to ask questions is one I don’t see a lot. This is where a good mentor comes in handy. Not everyone is going to be the top expert in all the fields involved in building a building. Also, understanding that the guys on site are doing the hard work. Working with them to achieve a better installation is easier then telling them they are wrong and they don’t know what they are doing. I can’t remember who told me the motto “See one, do one, teach one”, but I find this is to be good advice to ensure that everyone knows not only the best way to complete a task or installation but also how to train future generations to achieve the best results as well.
Do you have any advice for anyone starting out in your field?
A: Get out in the field and get back in the classroom (in one way or another). Being on jobsites is the best way to learn how construction functions in the real world, in real time. In your downtime try to seek out good education sources (ABAA, IIBEC, CSI, etc.) and review the information and classes that are provided to make you more knowledgeable.
How much demand do you think there is for people in your profession?
A: Right now I think there is high demand for people in our fields mainly due to the complexity of buildings and the construction process. There aren’t many Master Builders anymore and it takes a team mentality to ensure that after construction when a building opens it functions properly and stands up to the Owner’s demands not only at the ribbon cutting but also 50+ years down the line.
What do you think the industry will look like in five or ten year’s time?
A: I think technology (e.g. PlanGrid / Procore) will grow and assist to streamline information sharing. This will be advantageous as most of the missteps we see are due to sequencing or the unintentional acceptance of correctable defects. Also, I think we will start to see more Architecture firms bringing people in my field to work in-house so they have a reliable expert on hand to review every project they put out into the market.