Member Spotlight: Russell Snow
The Air Barrier Association of America (ABAA) dives inside the career of Russell Snow, Regional Sales Manager / Product Group Manager – Building Envelope for W. R. MEADOWS in Hampshire, IL. 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.
Russell Snow, CSP, CTR, BSSO, LEED AP, is the Building Envelope Product Group Manager for W.R. Meadows, as well as the Sales Manager for W. R. Meadows of Canada. Russ develops specifications and provides technical support on building enclosure and related products. He is a graduate of the University of Waterloo and has 24 years of experience in the construction industry. He completed his Building Science Program at the University of Toronto and in 2010 had attained the Building Science Specialist of Ontario designation. His experience includes building envelope, concrete restoration and products used in the treatment of concrete.
Russ is Past-Chair of the Air Barrier Association of America, and a member of the ASTM E06, ASTM D08, and American Concrete Institute committees. Russ has also been involved for a number of years with Construction Specifications Canada and has just recently been elected to the Executive Council as 4th Vice-President. In addition, he is involved nationally with the CSC Educational Maintenance Team, including being the Chair of the Technical Representative Course Committee.
Name: Russell Snow
Title: Regional Sales Manager / Product Group Manager – Building Envelope
Firm: W. R. MEADOWS
City: Hampshire, IL
ABAA member for 15 years
What was the path to your career — how and why did you pursue a profession in the building industry?
A: This is quite an interesting story and as many people say, “I am not doing what I went to school for”. Well I am one of those statistics as I had graduated from University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Science, majoring in Microbiology. I stayed around to work on a research project and during this time, worked part time for a construction product distributor. This was my first real exposure to the construction industry and who would have thought I was hooked? After finishing up my research and subsequently working for 2 years in a quality control lab for a manufacturer of chemicals used for water and wastewater treatment, I was attending a construction industry trade show and ran into my current supervisor. Jokingly I had asked if he was hiring and to make a long story short, I was hired. This was in 1997 and since then, I have held a number of positions at W. R. MEADOWS, along with returning to school to obtain my Building Science Diploma. All of this has led me to my current position and presents me with new challenges every day.
Is there anything that you believe everyone in this industry should be working towards?
A: Education and collaboration. As our industry is constantly changing, it is imperative that everyone continues to educate themselves on these changes to keep current and to continue to play an integral role in the construction industry. Having the knowledge and experience is one thing, but sharing this with others is critical. No matter what you do, your contribution is important in continuing to make our industry better.
What role have peers, mentors, or advisors played in your career?
A: I can honestly say I would not be where I am today without the influence of some great individuals. Starting out in this industry, my current supervisor, has provided me with the knowledge, experience, and opportunities, all at the same time trusting me with what I had been given. Outside of the company, I had attended my first industry meeting not too long after joining my company, and two Specifiers, took the time to talk with me and introduce me to everybody attending the meeting. They have continually been there throughout my career to help me in my professional development. And finally, in the building science world, there has not been one person that I can contribute my success to. There are many individuals that I have looked up to and have turned to many times throughout my career that I cannot thank enough. Whether it is asking a technical question, discussing a certain installation, or receiving guidance within an Association, I would hope they know who they are and how much that I owe them.
There are many other people that I have not mentioned that I am indebted to. And no matter who it is, I am so grateful that these business relationships are now lifelong friendships.
What led you to become an ABAA member?
A: Back in 2009, I was asked by my company if I was interested in representing us on the Technical Committee. I had attended my first face to face meeting that year and I was hooked. There was so much knowledge and passion around that table and I wanted to do my small part and contribute to the growth of this Association. Who would have thought that we would be where we are today?
Are you involved in any ABAA committees? Do you have any ABAA certifications?
A: I have tried to be involved as much as I can over the years. As the Past Chair, I am involved with the Executive Committee and the Board of Directors. I still am a member of the Technical Committee and try to attend as many other committee meetings as I can. I am so honoured to have been the Chair of the ABAA for 3 years as I have been able to work with, and become friends, with individuals that I would never of had a chance to meet. All at the same time as seeing the Association grow across the country.
How long have you been in the industry?
A: As mentioned earlier, I worked for a distributor for a couple of years so in total, I have been involved for about 27 years.
What major changes have you seen?
A: The biggest change that I see is the concentration on the building enclosure. This isn’t just in relation to the changes in material technologies, but also in the actual design, construction and testing associated with it. In relation to this, the involvement of the manufacturer has become much more critical in the overall process to provide solutions and not just “sell” material.
What traits or skills do you think are necessary to be able to succeed in your industry?
A: The most important trait that has allowed me to succeed is to listen. Starting out in the industry, I had a lot to learn so during meetings, I always asked questions if I didn’t understand. Most people were very forthcoming with information and have been very helpful in helping me to learn. One quote I always remember is from Stephen Covey “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand, they listen with the intent to reply”.
Do you have any advice for anyone starting out in your field?
A: The biggest piece of advice I have is get involved. Everyone is always very busy, whether it be at work or at home, but for me, taking that little bit of extra time to get involved with an Association has been extremely helpful in my growth and success. I have met some great individuals over the years that I would never have met otherwise, and I am proud to call them my friends today.
How much demand do you think there is for people in your profession?
A: I think there is always going to be a demand. No matter how much technology develops and online research is being done, having an individual that is there to answer the question, or provide a solution based on knowledge and experience is still going to be needed.
What do you think the industry will look like in five or ten year’s time?
A: That is a tough question to answer as 10 years ago, who would have thought we would be where we are today? Thinking about it, with all of the concentration in airtightness, thermal performance and durability, buildings are going to get better. Not only are the materials going to a huge part of this, installation, inspection and commissioning are essential components to be able to accomplish this.