CFMA’s 2022 Conference & Exhibition Specialty Trade Sessions Recap

After a two-year hiatus, CFMA’s 2022 Conference & Exhibition returned for five days of in-person networking, education, and fun. The National Subspecialty Committee was instrumental in the success of the conference by hosting five sessions. We asked a few of our session attendees to comment, and the following are their experiences.

Payment, Change Order, and Delay Disputes on Trial

The conference kicked off first thing on Saturday morning with the Payment, Change Order, and Delay Disputes on Trial course. If you were going to wake up early on a Saturday to attend a course, this is the one that you wanted to attend! The panel did a wonderful job simulating a real trial, mixed with humor, to keep the group engaged. The issue on trial was a situation that many contractors could find themselves in: multiple change orders, schedule delays, assumed understanding between parties, incomplete paperwork, and not fully recognizing the scope of a contract.

The issue had no clear winner, as both parties made missteps along the way. The class broke out into separate juries to decide the amount we thought should be awarded to each party and it really tested all of us to put our biases aside and attempt to think about what an average juror who had never worked in construction might think. I thought this perspective was eye opening to a lot of the group as many people who would serve on a jury haven’t worked in the industry. As much as one party may believe they are right, you must ponder what the average person would think when considering going to trial. I hope to see this type of format at future conferences — this was easily the most engaging way to go over contract issues that I have experienced.

 — Nicolle Sheafor, CCIFP
Controller for Hardman Construction, Inc. in Ludington, Michigan

Teaming Up! CFM and Operations Partner for a Successful Project

One of my favorite things about the Conference is the opportunity to talk with other subcontractors and pick their brains. Who manages this in your organization? What do you do to prevent that? Where do you keep these? When do you meet to discuss those? Why? Questions we all have that can lead to new, better solutions for our organizations when given the opportunity to discuss them with other subcontractors. Based on the fact this session needed to be split into two different rooms to accommodate everyone that registered to attend — I think a lot of us were looking for these same answers!

The session I attended was led by Shawn Erickson, CFO of C.J. Erickson Plumbing Co. and John Metz, an experienced financial executive in the industry — both active members of CFMA at the National and local levels. My roundtable (literally) at this Specialty Trade Roundtable discussion included six diverse regions of the country and six different trades — exactly what I was hoping for. Represented trades included electric, concrete, mechanical, and masonry. Illinois, New Jersey, Georgia, and Arizona were among the represented states. Even though we could not have been more diverse, we were able to share similar experiences, frustrations, and examples of what did and did not work for us in certain situations.

Three Learning Objectives were put forth by our presenters to facilitate conversation and engagement. Objectives included bullet points to consider during breakout sessions at each roundtable and a note taker then presented a synopsis of conversations about the bullet points to the room at large. That way every person in this session could take advantage of the combined experience and knowledge of every other person in this session. Several of the bullet points provided for lively & thoughtful discussion. The presenters kept the discussion on point and within the time allotted, but I am sure all of us could have easily kept the discussion going for a lot longer. Based on conversations with my tablemates, we all agreed we were all impressed with this session and will take the relevant parts of the discussion to implement at our own companies. Again, exactly what we all have come to expect from the Conference!

— Lynne M Pace
CFO, Danson Construction, LLC in Phoenix, Arizona

I Have All of This Data, Now What?

Wednesday sessions on the last day of the Conference have a unique “problem” that sessions on any other day of the week do not experience. Attendees are faced with a choice — do I go to my session, or do I check out of the hotel and head for the airport early to try and beat the crowd, have one last drink with my friends, or take a nap after five very full days?

Those attendees that made the wise choice of attending “I Have All of This Data, Now What” in lieu of that nap, were welcomed by two amazing presenters with a plan to use a tool that you probably already own, to create powerful, interactive KPIs to give every member of your team accurate, timely data and make your life a lot easier — Power BI.

Catherine Wendt, President of Sycon, Inc. and Chris Wendt, Vice President of Technology Services for Syscon, Inc., have been supporting the Construction industry for over 35 years. They prepared and co-presented their session to give each attendee the information, tools, and take-aways for creating KPIs in a real-world setting.

They both stressed that the attendees should not stress! They explained the KPIs can be as big or as small as you need — start small, create a plan, figure out what you want to measure, and then dive in. Even if you start with one metric, you can always add more data as you go. One unique feature about this session is not only did they show you how to use the Power BI that is part of the Microsoft 365 platform (no new software to buy) in an easy-to-follow step by step process, but they also provided additional resources that they uploaded into the conference app. These included a sample data Excel file & a sample Power BI report. Utilizing these resources and the slides from the session, I found it incredibly simple to create my first report and I am excited about adding more information (baby steps). I look forward to sharing my first KPI report with my team.

— Lynne M Pace
CFO, Danson Construction, LLC in Phoenix, Arizona

Collecting and Disseminating Info via Mobile Applications

Roundtables are a great way to share ideas at the Conference and the final session on evaluating and implementing a mobile application was no exception. This session was led by Steve Maddux of Contech 360.  It provided great insight into how companies are utilizing mobile applications to collect and push data amongst their teams. It was great to hear all the ideas shared on how various companies are collecting data via mobile apps to streamline their processes. From payroll and production reporting to change order processing, to benefit administration and everything in between, there are tools out there to solve some of our problems. One of the other benefits of this session was learning how companies have implemented mobile applications in their organizations and how to get buy-in from their teams to make the application a success!

— Dan Dryden
CFO for Joseph J. Albanese, Inc. in Santa Clara, California

Insurance Best Practices

CFOs and Controllers of subcontracting firms, includes wearing a variety of hats within our company with risk management and insurance being one of the key areas of responsibility. We know the impact a solid risk management program can have on both the bottom line, reputation, and the longevity of a company. This session, led by Greg Gross of Willis Towers Watson in Tempe, Arizona, was a nice high-level review of the topics surrounding insurance audits. The session was a great refresher for me to make sure I was covering all my basis. I was relieved to confirm that I’m on the right track!

— Shawn Erickson
CFO for C.J. Erickson Plumbing Co. in Alsip, Illinois

As a reminder, all conference attendees are provided with free access to the recordings of all conference sessions. The recordings will be available soon. Additionally, CFMA is converting 14 sessions from the 2022 conference to provide CPE credit. These will be available for free for conference attendees. Those who didn’t attend will be able to purchase these individually or as a package of all 14 sessions.

Recordings from CFMA’s Annual Conferences going back to 2016 are available for purchase as either individual sessions or the entire conference.

The Committee looks forward to hosting sessions at the 2023 CFMA Annual Conference & Exhibition in Colorado in July 2023. If you would like more information about this committee, please email We welcome you!

About the Author

Shawn Erickson

Shawn Erickson is CFO of C.J. Erickson Plumbing Co., a commercial plumbing and site utility contractor, in Alsip, IL.

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