Setting roof trusses is one of the most tedious, dangerous parts of the building process. There are different types of roof trusses, but most are not safe enough for workers. After more than 40 years as a framer, Steve Ventling found a potentially better, safer way to install trusses when he created TrussLox.
TrussLox is a temporary truss-bracing system that uses a built-in locking technology to safely and efficiently secure trusses 24 inches on-center, says Cynthia Hert, who—along with Tim Hert—is one of the managing partners of the company.
Safety was the motivator
“Through trials and tribulations of being in the industry, (Ventling) just wanted something safer and better. He had had accidents,” Cynthia Hert says, “so this came out of necessity.”
The patented, bright-green TrussLox braces are reusable. “When you go to sheet the roof, you pop these off and bundle them up and take them to the next job site,” Hert says.
The Billings, Montana-based company was officially founded in June 2017. So far, business has been good. The industry seems interested in a new, innovative way of doing things, Tim Hert says, noting how some of the social media videos of the product have gone viral.
“Guys have done trusses the same way for years and years. They see the TrussLox, and now, all of a sudden, they’re in a panic to get it because it’s finally something new,” he says.
An aid during a labor shortage
The new truss-bracing product is cost-effective and a time-saver. It can also be a useful tool for the many construction companies around the country experiencing workforce shortages since it enables crews to set roof trusses with fewer people.
“We’re not necessarily replacing anyone,” Tim Hert explains. “A lot of guys setting trusses will have one guy at each end of the tail and a guy on the ground with the crane, and then they’ll have someone up in the truss, nailing the blocks. Basically, we can completely eliminate the guy that’s up in the truss who has to be tied off per OSHA standards,” Hert notes.
“When the truss comes up, he’s got to get it positioned and nail the blocks in before the next truss can come up. We can eliminate that person by just using the guy who’s hooking the truss on the ground. He snaps on our product, the guys on each side of the truss grab it as it comes up, and they just fold it into place, and then they’re down setting another truss.”
The solution can reduce costs by cutting the number of hours a crane is needed and reducing the need for materials, he says. Moreover, it eliminates the need to have a worker tossing blocks up to the worker in the trusses, which can be hazardous.
What goes into innovation
The company works with a main distributor to make TrussLox, which is U.S.-made and available at different suppliers around the country.
“We’re disrupting the framing industry,” says Cynthia Hert. Construction is an innovative industry, full of new ideas, and it is consistently being disrupted by technology. However, taking an idea from concept to product can be a complex process, Cynthia Hert says.
“It’s so involved. There are lots of good ideas. It’s the implementation that’s tricky and costs money,” she says. “You have to have time and money to work through the process.”
Steve Ventling spent several years on research and development before TrussLox launched, she says. Now, all the hard work is paying off.