Robert Bean’s marathon four-hour presentation (with properly-timed refreshment breaks) Sept. 11 at the 2018 Uponor Engineering Summit in Apple Valley, Minnesota, absolutely was the most disgusting presentation I have ever listened to.

A large, high-resolution photo that captured the projectiles from a human’s sneeze will make you a little queasy while you laugh in your seat.

“Forty-thousand droplets at 200 miles per hour coming at the back of your head on an airplane when someone sneezes on you,” Bean, the director of Canada-based Indoor Climate Consultants, told me on an episode of the pme Podcast available at here.

Even with that, Bean’s presentation also was the most personal I’ve witnessed. Bean told the story of how he had to be admitted to a hospital for a lung infection. (For a full report on the 2018 Uponor Engineering Summit, please see the full article in this month’s issue.)

The aliment required Bean to have a tube placed down his throat while he was still awake. I won’t regale all the details because it would fill up this column space and I have other thoughts I need to get in. Just make sure if you ever get an opportunity see a Bean presentation to not miss out. He can provide all the details about his scary, but successful procedure.

One detail I’ll share is that Bean didn’t feel comfortable in the room during the procedure and it shaded his view of the local medical facility. He reminded the attentive audience of engineers at the Uponor summit that organizations such as the United States Green Building Council can rate and grade buildings, but its occupants are the true authority on if it’s a winning facility.

“We forget the true cost of the building is the people cost,” he stated. “We judge buildings with our sensory systems.”

I know I’m guilty of being in awe of the technical reports I receive on how buildings are saving energy or water. Those details are important, but rarely, if ever, have I spoken to someone who uses the facility on a daily basis that isn’t a building manager. We need to hear more from these voices because their comfort is incredibly important.

Bean summed it up perfectly at the summit.

“When you design for people, good buildings will follow.”

Teach a man to fish…

Don Rasmusson, the senior MEP application engineer with Bloomington, Minnesota-based CTC Design Software Solutions, was another excellent presenter at the summit. His take on training a new employee was spot-on. He believes it’s a better policy “to train someone to leave a company than train them and they stay with the company.”

I know it’s an arms race out there to acquire the talent and having the best in the business is something you can 'wow' customers with. But, if you can continually churn out successful young employees that grow in-house until it is time for them to spread their wings elsewhere, that’s a winning formula as well.

Look at it like a farm system of a small-market baseball team such as the Oakland Athletics, Tampa Bay Rays or my beloved Milwaukee Brewers. They find the young or untapped older talent, develop them into attractive players and eventually produce a winning ball club. Then those players can go get big-time salaries, while a fresh, inexpensive face takes their spot.

It’s a proven, winning play and something the industry can take advantage of.


2018 Uponor Engineer Summit photo gallery