One major advantage of buying ICFs through a distributor is the level of training, service,
and support they provide. Over the years, perhaps no company has done more to educate and train ICF professionals than Arxx Building Products. This story is the first in a series of articles dealing with finding, training, and supporting professional ICF installers. –The Editor

Arxx is a pioneer in the ICF business. From the outset it has been important for us to train contractors on how to use the product correctly and efficiently. 

Our first training class was in February 1996, and since then, we have trained over 33,000 contractors in the classroom and more than 4,500 contractors in the field. In addition, we’ve presented specialized training to more than 1,400 architects through the American Institute of Architects (AIA). 

The entire industry has benefited tremendously over the years because of our commitment to training. Training is a key element in building up the ICF market, and creating an experienced ICF contractor base gives credibility to the product and success in sales. Training and support are the keystones to better buildings, construction efficiency, and profitability for everyone involved. 

Why Do You Recommend Professional Installers?

 ICFs are the main structural element of the building, so knowledge and installation training is very important for the integrity of the entire structure. 

It’s best to have ICFs installed by a builder that has been trained by the ICF company that he plans to use. The ICC, in the evaluation report for each ICF product, states that the product must be installed according to the manufacturer’s recommendation. (This is why Arxx does not sell direct to the DIY homeowners.) 

With over 80 ICF companies in the market, the installation techniques can differ dramatically. As with every building product there are tricks of the trade, engineering requirements, and unique application techniques that have been developed over time. These need to be shown and taught to the trainees. 

We have developed a full range of documentation materials, which include a training video/DVD, installation guide, design guide, prescriptive engineering manual, answer picture book, estimating software and other tools to help educate installers and specifiers. 

Our regional sales managers have all been trained as instructors, and in turn they have trained some of our distributors to be instructors. Between them, they have presented over 2,300 training courses to classes from 6 people to 100. Arxx conducts approximately 225 full-day classes every year.

What is a Class Like?

Arxx typically focuses on training masonry or general carpentry tradesmen. We understand that it is very important to provide a complete, intensive day of training. The trainees have taken a full day out of their schedule, which is time and money to them. A typical class is approx. 7-8 hours in a classroom with the product. 

The course covers:

• Job set-up and tools 

• Basics of laying out the walls 

• Cutting, bending, and placement of rebar

• Windows, doors, lintels, and specialty forms 

• The Build: foundation, main floor, second floor, gables 

• Concrete: pre-placement checklist, placement,
consolidation, safety 

• Alignment and bracing 

• Accessory Products: waterproofing, parging, window bucks 

• Finishes: exterior and interior, electrical and plumbing 

• Overview of engineering

• Material estimating and time management 

• Review of Arxx documentation 

• Becoming a distributor

• Sales and ordering 

• Technical support 

The classes have a hands-on section where everyone can build walls, cut forms, and cut and install rebar. At the end of the training there is a test which must be completed. With a passing grade (75%) the trainee receives a certificate of completion as “Classroom-Trained Arxx Installer” and a wallet card identifying this person as having completed the Arxx training. 

Is There Field Verification?

After successfully completing the classroom training, all participants are required to be reviewed by a representative in the field on their own project. This is a practical review to make sure that what was learned in the classroom is being applied in the field. Successful completion of the field review promotes the classroom-trained installer to “Arxx Contractor.”

Do You Offer Specialized Training Courses?

Arxx has also developed a number of other structured training courses to suit different markets and level of expertise. These include: 

  • AIA-accredited Seminars, geared towards architect, and designed specifically for AIA credits.
  • Advanced Contractor Training, dealing more with the business side of the ICF sales and marketing, bigger projects, networking. 
  • Commercial Strategy Training, dealing with sales, marketing, value engineering, bidding, contracts and construction management.
  • On-site Training, taking the class to the jobsite with hands-on training.

Arxx training, and the development of the ICF market as a whole gained immense credibility from the late Richie Scott. Richie had an overwhelming passion to educate everyone and give them the knowledge and confidence to build with ICFs.

This philosophy is instilled in Arxx today. The depth of documentation materials, as well as the experience and knowledge of the trainers is one reason contractors and architects prefer Arxx training.

Tom Patton is manager of commercial development & technical support at Arxx Building Products.