Interview by Fred Schmidt
I was recently at the AIA Oklahoma State Convention in Tulsa, Oklahoma gathering “continuing education units” (CEU’s) that are needed for architects to maintain their professional license. This was a 2 day event where you could sock away 12 CEU’s which equates to one year’s worth of credits. The convention is typically accompanied by a Trade Show where vendors, consultants, suppliers and contractor types have set up booths and share information regarding their product or company with the attendees of the convention.
While touring the booths, I came across a product that looked very familiar. It was a wood ceiling product similar to what we were putting in the ceiling of the Gallery space of the Chickasaw Visitor Center. I began to talk to the gentleman at the booth and the product was in fact the actual wood ceiling that was going to be installed at the Visitor Center. It’s always interesting to see just how many people become directly involved in a project like this and they are basically all “players” at some level. So I decided to seize this journalistic opportunity and conducted an impromptu interview with the gentleman.
Michael Kolman, LEED AP, CSI, CDT is a sales representative for Rulon International. He is a LEED Accredited Professional (LEED AP), which impressed me, is a member of the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) and holds a Construction Documents Technology Certificate (CDT). He is a very enthusiastic young man who is obviously excited and engaged in what is doing.
So Michael, how did you first get introduced to the Chickasaw Visitor Center project?
Michael: I remember getting a call from you first inquiring about the wood ceiling product. I then had discussions with Sharon/FSB interior Designer and Lowe/FSB Project Architect following up with information on the product. I usually get involved in a project at this early stage to be a resource, to help review details and provide support for specifications. We typically provide support from design thru construction.
What was the path that led you to this career?
Michael: I got involved in the industry thru a friend. We were in college together where I got my degree in business management at Texas State in San Marcos. When we got out of college we both went to work for Dell in Austin but after 5 years we had reached burn out. My friend ended up in the product industry and talked it up to me. So in 2005, my friend hired me as a rep. It was a small outfit and I was the only rep. It ended up folding in 1.5 years. But I really liked the industry and found Rulon International because of their products and what they do. My friend is still in the industry and he started a rep agency of his own for a variety of products.
When did you first realize what the project was about?
Michael: The first time that I got a real sense of the project was when the plans hit the street (this is a phrase that refers to when the plans are available to sub-contractors and suppliers to bid on the project). It was then that I thought we were part of a significant project for a significant client.
How you are connected to the project now?
Michael: Our involvement is thru the drywall subcontractor who actually ends up installing the product in the field. We are involved initially with shop drawings, then manufacturing and we follow thru with being a resource during the installation. The wood ceiling product typically gets installed toward the latter part of construction after the building is enclosed and the interior climate (temperature/humidity) is being controlled. The product is made at the plant in St. Augustine, Florida just south of Jacksonville.
What do you like about your job?
Michael: I really like this industry because you are part of something from inception to completion. There is a real sense of pride in seeing something you were a part of competed and being used. We think this is going to be a showcase project and we plan to submit it for awards. The big one is the annual INTEX EXPO thru CISCA. It is essentially a ceiling and interior systems contractor’s show and they give awards for a variety of product applications.
It’s great to get to know all these other people involved in your project and to hear their story. We’ll meet others along the way.