|Congratulations to the CSI members elected to the CSI Board of Directors and taking office July 1. Meet Robert W. Vaughn, CSI, who was elected director of the Middle Atlantic Region.
How did you first become involved with CSI, and how has that helped you professionally?
I first became involved in CSI early in my career with Shade & Wise, a brick distributor in Richmond, Va., and my current employer for the past 25 years. I went into a local architect’s office and the principal at the time, Jim Snowa, Retired AIA, said, “If you join our firm to specify your material, you need to be involved with the local chapter of CSI.”
That prompted the natural question, “What’s CSI?” He then informed me of the benefits of the organization to the profession and encouraged me to take a leadership position on a committee. It was the best professional decision I ever made and has opened many doors that led me to my current assignment as the Middle Atlantic Region board representative.
What are your goals as a member of the CSI Board?
As for goals, I would like to take a holistic approach to my seat on the board. I feel that with my diverse background and experiences I can take a broad look at the issues. I want to make decisions based on the whole picture—what’s best for everyone and not just who is making the most noise.
What are the top opportunities you see for CSI?
CSI, through its many programs and certifications, should be the leader in education and certification. Local grassroots chapter involvement in both local and regional affairs that pertain to education and product knowledge should be where CSI shines.
I also feel the CSI could lead the way in getting people out and into more social functions, product shows, and education seminars, just to name a few. We need to have a coordinated nationwide effort to push these programs locally. National help back to the local chapters should be a priority and with the support of the Institute can make a huge difference.
What impressed you about how the AECO (architecture, engineering, construction, owner) community continued to help each other navigate through this crisis?
Since every state or commonwealth handled the pandemic differently, all services had to be as fluid as they were allowed. I know that in Virginia, we were all considered essential services and could keep rolling through as long as we adhered to the proper precautions. In the brick industry, we are still having difficulty with manpower and production at the manufacturing level. That should resolve in time; however, the impact could last for years. The AECO community worked through as well. Using the virtual meeting formats, they could have the essential production and site visits that kept the projects rolling.
What do you feel are the top resources CSI provides?
Education and certification. We are the leaders in the industry in education for our peers. Our certification programs are second to none. We have these programs in place that assist not only the specification writers but also the design professional and the products reps. As a local architectural representative, I frequently rely on the project manuals, knowing full well that they are a product of years of CSI development to create MasterFormat®. This helps tie me back to the specifier to assist them in product selection and proper use of such.
Do you have a favorite project, or work experience you would like to share?
After 25 years in the brick industry, it’s really hard to pinpoint one or the other. I’ve had the pleasure to see developments that I’ve been a part of change the face of Richmond. If I had to pick one, it would be Libby Mill-Midtown. Libby Mill was a small post-World War II development that was razed many years ago. This area was a huge open field when I started 25 years ago, only weeds and small scrubby trees. Now it’s home to a large booming urban area with a county library, walkable shopping, dining, and a park.
I’d also like to mention one of our local universities, University of Richmond. I’ve had the pleasure of working with the campus to keep the old historic look with challenging brick matches. One of my most humbling moments was when AIA Richmond bestowed me with an honorary membership. I’m not one to seek out status or notoriety… Just doing my job to support the AECO community, and being recognized that way by my peers was truly a humbling and memorable moment.
What’s your favorite book, movie, or after-work hobby?
This, of all the questions is usually the one I have the hardest time answering! I’m not a big book reader at all, and I really don’t watch many movies. I’m a huge Walking Dead fan and I’ve really enjoyed Yellowstone. As for an after-work hobby, I’m a competitive rimfire rifle shooter. I’ve also picked up sporting clays and really enjoy the sport. I do love to get out and get fresh air on my Harley. It’s one thing I really do enjoy, and it helps to clear out the cobwebs! I’ve also restored two antique John Deere tractors from 1949, one with my brother. I grew up on a small farm and our father was the service manager with a local dealer. We only used these types of machines and I’ve made it a point to teach as much as I can about these anyone who will listen. Just ask, I’ll fill you in!
Is there anything else you would like your fellow CSI members to know?
My door is always open. My phone is always on. If you have a question or concern about anything with CSI, locally, regionally, or at the Institute level, please reach out to me. Worst I can tell you is that I don’t know, but I’ll find out. I’m always seeking knowledge and every day is a learning experience. Many years ago, someone told me each day is a blessing and you should try to learn something from it. I apply that every day, and it’s true. You do learn something new each day. I’m here to serve you, the members of CSI.