I recently received an e-mail from my local IMI (International Masonry Institute) representative, saying that she would be retiring in a few weeks. Even though I had known her all the twenty-plus years I have been a CSI member, and knew we were about the same age, it was a bit of a shock. After trying to convince her not to retire (not very hard), I thought about other favorite product reps - my go-to guys, some of whom retired or lost their jobs in the past couple of years.
Specifiers have a simple job: to know everything about everything. Which is interesting, given that they not only must try to keep up with new products and changes in old ones, but must somehow divine what it is that the rest of the project team has in mind. Of course it's impossible to know everything, so what they do know is phone numbers for their go-to guys. These are the people who have the right answer or know where to get it, help extract information from manufacturers' labyrinthine websites, respond quickly, and appear to remain unfazed by calls made just days - or hours - before bidding documents are issued. They're the ones who know not only their own products but those of competitors, and are able to offer advice about installation, maintenance, potential problems, and corrective measures for defects or failures beyond their control.