Becoming an Independent Manufacturers’ Rep Who Develops Specifications with Architects and Engineers

Posted by on March 4, 2019 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Becoming an Independent Manufacturers’ Rep Who Develops Specifications with Architects and Engineers


One of the most important responsibilities of an independent manufacturers’ rep for architectural products is working with architects and engineers (A/E) to review their product specifications and assist them in modifying them for individual projects. Well-written specifications are critical to the construction of buildings that fully meet the needs and objectives of an A/E’s clients. If there is a conflict between specifications and drawings in the construction documents, the specifications take legal precedent over the drawings.

An A/E will only call on a rep for specifications assistance when the rep has developed a high level of technical and ethical confidence with the A/E. To become a trusted adviser like this takes time and a demonstrated commitment to provide honest advice and service.

For further background information, an excellent survey discussing A/E specifications is found in the Architect Digest’s article, “The Truth About Specifications,” but how does an independent manufacturers’ rep for architectural products get to the place where the conversation can even begin?

Specifications are critical in architectural projects

My five-part series on Independent Rep & Architects and Engineers Relationships covers:

Let’s start with the first of these questions.

Why is it important for a manufactures’ product to be included in the specification?

Specifications are developed by the A/E to describe the products and systems that are to be used in a project to meet their client’s requirements for quality and performance. The project builder—be it a general contractor, construction manager, or other entity—is expected to provide pricing based on the specifications. Admittedly, they often do not follow the specifications. The builder and his subcontractors submit and use products with which they are familiar, which are more accessible or cheaper, or which make sense to them for many other reasons. At the same time, the builders and subcontractors understand that it makes life easier for them, as well as for the A/E who must approve substitutions, if they do use a product that is included in the specification.

If a rep’s product is not in the specifications, the rep, his manufacturer, the subcontractor, and the builder must go through an arduous process of obtaining A/E approval of a substitution. This is called “back dooring” a product into the project. Not only is this time-consuming for the builder and subcontractor, it is time-consuming for the rep and his manufacturer as well as the A/E. The process takes away from selling time. Back-dooring is not good for a manufacturer, nor is it a way to develop strong, personal working relationships with the A/E or any of the other parties involved in a project.

With this understood, it leads us to our next question, addressed in Article 2, “What are Product Specifications and How are They Created?

Questions so far? Scott Lau Consulting is ready to be a trusted adviser for you as a trusted adviser. Contact Scott today.