Global pandemic won’t stop RSM Building Consultants from reaching and teaching municipalities
Over the past 10 years, RSM Building Consultants have been sharing their extensive building code knowledge with industry professionals, hosting sessions from their training centre and office in Kitchener, Ontario. These small, in-house workshops and customized training courses offered in-depth discussions and training on topics important to building code officials, led by RSM president Gerald Moore, who brings his 25 years of experience with the code to the table.
But that all came to an abrupt halt once the COVID-19 pandemic came along in early 2020, effectively putting an end to in-person training across the province.
Not one to be discouraged, Moore quickly shifted his training from the classroom setting to a virtual one, and out of that shift RSM developed a new offering called Let’s Talk About; for a one-time fee, subscribers can attend bi-weekly interactive sessions that dive deep into a specific area of the building code. Attendees know what topics are coming up a month in advance and are encouraged to engage with the content during the live event, answering polls and submitting questions for discussion.
“They became the go-to people for training,” says Daniel Prest, Chief Building Official for the municipality of Mississippi Mills, who signed his team up for the year-long webinar series one month prior to start of the pandemic and is quite pleased with the investment.
“What RSM does is they focus and concentrate on a certain area (of the code)…it’s really quite interesting in that Gerald obviously does a lot of research on his subject…you can see he’s put the effort into it, and it’s not just reading off of a presentation board. You can see that he knows his topics.”
Moore confirms that he and his team can take anywhere from 20 to 30 hours to prepare for each session, so subscribers can be confident they’re getting their money’s worth for their investment.
“His style is an excellent way to teach adults—and he respects some of the feedback he’s getting because a lot of us do have a lot of experience and I imagine it’s quite a challenge for Gerald because he knows his audience is not just 18-year-old students who’ve never done anything. And if he doesn’t know the answer, he’ll get back to you.”
Prest and his team have made the Let’s Talk About series an integral part of their continuing training program.
“The other nice part about it is he sends us the videos…we can go back to (the content) as we move forward…so he’s become part of our library for training purposes.”
Of additional importance to Prest is that the online offerings from RSM have removed the barriers to training that have long existed for municipalities like his that are far removed from on-site educational facilities, which in the past required not only a significant financial investment, but also costly time and travel to the GTA and beyond.
“The financial side of it is that it allows us to provide more training to more people.”
Even with other institutions making the move to online training, Prest is happy to keep his team with RSM.
“I’m always excited to watch the seminar to see, ‘What is he going to teach me today?’ Because again, I’ve been doing this for a little while. He’s given us a new way or a better way of actually doing the plans exam and the work to see how to get a certain point—to follow the path,” he says, quoting a philosophy Gerald frequently shares during sessions.
When asked, Prest said he is quite happy to recommend RSM training to others, and has already encouraged several neighbouring municipalities to get their staff on board for 2021.
“Gerald will find a lot of eastern Ontario municipalities are signing on for the same reasons I am—because it’s good, focused training and it doesn’t drain our budget.”
The Let’s Talk About series is of value not only to municipal building officials, but to engineering, design, and architectural firms, as they play an integral role during the design phase of plans development and code adherence. And, while the series is structured around the Ontario Building Code, there are current subscribers located outside of the province who find value in the teachings, as the OBC is mirrored closely to the National Building Code of Canada.