ForConstructionPros.com contributing editor Diana Henry recently spoke with Cameron Wies, President of TJ Wies Contracting, and Justin Delk, USG Midwest Contractor Specialty Representative, in St. Louis. This is a shortened version of their conversation.
Justin Delk: In 2011, we launched the ultra-lightweight portfolio that met an industry need for lightweight technology. Wallboard was heavy. We made it lighter so they contractors more efficient, they could install more and it wasn't as much wear and tear on the guys that were doing it. But then in 2017, we launched the EcoSmart Ultralight Weight Type X panels, which was a lightweight fire-rated panel that's used in the commercial side, which you hadn't seen before. With that, we relied on TJ Wies to be able to tell us how it was, how it worked. That product has grown. It's in 600+ Ul-approved designs, one of the only wallboards that's recognized by its Ul designation, which is ULIX. It's got many different names in the industry, but it's our most innovative interior wallboard panel. And without guys like TJ Wies to use that and be a proponent of its growth, we wouldn't be where we are.
Cameron Wies: Drywall has become complex with Ul ratings. With all the different testing, we rely on the knowledge-base that Justin has himself, but also USG, to really make sure that when we're bidding a project and then when we're submitting for a project, we have all the right drywall. And one of the things that they've been able to do with the ULI Type X is be able to eliminate and make it much smaller. The different various types of drywall that we need on certain different projects. Anytime you can bring the complexity of a project down and make it a little bit more foolproof it makes it a ton easier for us overall. And ULI Type X is one of the things that has really helped us have a competitive advantage and then also be able to produce and get projects done as quick as the owners are wanting them done.
Justin: Traditionally, within these job sites, you had a Type C panel that went on the ceilings and a Type X panel that went on the walls. So, you had to have two different panels on the job to meet the Ul-tested assembly for fire rating. The innovation of EcoSmart Ultralight Weight Type X panels was you could limit it down to one panel. So you didn't have to have two different panels on the job. You didn't have to worry about the guys – the end users, the carpenters, the hangers – hanging the wrong panel in the wrong spot. You could just buy one panel, and it was an all-in-one application.
Cameron: It's invaluable for us in certain different applications like in multifamily, where we can eliminate Type C board, which is much heavier and much more cumbersome to get in there. And we can utilize one type of drywall for most, if not all, applications. That has been invaluable for our success in the past couple of years. Anybody that has come from the trenches really understands job site conditions, understands what problems we come upon, and that’s one of the things that Justin himself and really USG as a whole does: they come with solutions from the trenches. They're backing us up. They're really letting us better understand what is the true problem and not just what the problem is, but what are the solutions so we can pass along the best solution, the best fix and the best product to our customers. As an owner and a steward of the industry and a member of society in St. Louis, it helps me sleep at night being able to know that we have done our due diligence to eliminate any construction errors, that we have made sure that we are doing the right thing. In all applications, USG always has a mindset of continuous improvement. It's not just about major changes. It’s the small little ones that they continuously make over and above some of their competition. The people they put in place to help develop these products or innovate or make anything better with all of the products that USG makes is top notch, bar none, the best.