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Lunch Box Presentations

Author: Brad Swanson, ASLA, RLA, CSI, CDT, LEED AP

I’m old enough to remember the days of lunch and learn box presentation. The good old days when I was able to meet talented designers looking to understand the products we have to offer. They’d get a fancy box of food that included a sandwich, bag of chips, usually a fruit cup and always on my watch, a cookie. For the daring, a 12oz can of sugar and caffeine gaming to see if they’d stay awake. Yes, once in a while, even with my most interesting topics, I’d see a few eyelids crash and burn only to awake with a question about something I’d just covered. In exchange for this free lunch was listening to me boast about the Unilock product offerings and the unique features, aesthetics and durability and along with my paver expertise. Man, I miss those days. (I don’t miss the really early days of my career at Unilock when I’d drag along a ginormous projector. The best technology advancement in the architectural office was the flat screen LED TV.) Literally this was 2019 but it seems like so long ago.

Now, in our new Covid world, doing an office presentation is very rare. Most of the offices I work with are operating on an in-office skeleton crew. Gathering an office full of designers to sit through a continuing education lunch presentation is a risky opportunity. Maybe this is safer in smaller cities and offices. But, did you know the exact same presentations are being offered virtually? The same PowerPoint slide show with the same education talking points and the same continuing education credits. Don’t let this little blip in our daily work limit your product knowledge.

If there is one positive thing about our Covid world is the increase of remote video meetings and remote learning. It has become the new norm for many. What makes this great compared to the old CEU presentation is that this information is pumped right to your work station wherever you are in the world. You get to listen from your home-office or from your island get-a-way. Remote learning can still be as interesting and enticing as face-to-face learning, except now you can wear shorts and a t-shirt while watching. I would much rather present in person, but remote learning can be really beneficial.

You, as the designer are looking to earn some CE or PD credits, while gaining some product insights that are vital to your projects. Besides the educational aspect, virtual learning allows us to introduce you to the industry expert. We are not just manufacturing and product experts. We understand the system better and can explain the complexities so that you make informed decisions. For example, planks have been trending for a few years. Designers often request to use this paver style in a drive area. Great idea that has some challenges regarding aspect ratio. Use the wrong size in vehicular area and many of the planks could snap in half. This is why the 6×24” pavers at Navy Pier are 6 inches thick. It was designed for any size vehicle. (Did you even know we can make a 6 inch thick paver?)

Then there is the aesthetic. I like to leave this up to the designer, to pick and choose products matching their vision and design intent. As funny as this sounds, learning the language of paving is much more difficult when learning on your own. This we bring to the table, or I should say the Zoom, when we present. Explaining all the ins and outs with the many options. We are like translators speaking for the products. We take your vision and translate this into a product that communicates your design intent. Again, that sounds easy, but there are so many options and paver characteristics to consider. Each one of our lunch and learn presentations discuss these things and create a forum for this dialog.

Most importantly, we want to meet you! We want to know what you’re working on so we can help filter through the fog and get you what you need. We want learn about your selection process and look for areas where we can suggest alternatives that enhance your design. We want you to be a satisfied specifier and appreciate the final product. We want to forge a partnership and have a vested interest in the final, installed and completed project. Many times this partnership starts with the simple ice breaking of the lunch and learn presentation. We look forward to presenting to your office soon.

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