Business Matters – June 2015
Jill McKibbin of McKibbin Consulting and founder of the Commercial, Industrial, Service Trade Group talks to members of the
new CIST North chapter during a meeting May 6 at Farmers National Bank in Cranberry Township.
The new Commercial, Industrial, Service Trade Group North chapter meets May 6 at Farmers National Bank in Cranberry Township.
The group will meet at 9:15 a.m. the first Wednesday of every month at the bank.
A networking group that recently expanded to Butler County aims to provide opportunities for all types of businesses involved with construction and building management.
The Commercial, Industrial, Service Trade Group’s North chapter in April held its first meeting in Cranberry Township.
CIST is a free, category-exclusive networking group open to any business that is involved with construction or building management, from civil engineers to general contractors to cleaning companies.
The new CIST North chapter meets at 9:15 a.m. the first Wednesday of every month at the Farmers National Bank of Emlenton, 20581 Route 19, Cranberry Township.
While CIST is new to Butler County, the group has been active in the Pittsburgh area for about a decade.
Jill McKibbin of McKibbin Consulting, which provides business development services for regional construction businesses of all sizes, started CIST in 2005 as a way to generate more leads and sales when she was working for a heating and air conditioning company.
At the time, she learned there weren’t many networking opportunities specifically for construction-related businesses. Plus, she was faced with the obstacle of having to join dozens of business organizations just for the chance to meet other companies involved with construction.
So, she and some of her peers in 2005 organized a diverse group of representatives from the construction industry that started meeting once a month for an hour to share their specialties, talk about their recent projects and present a “hot list” of projects they were looking for.
Eventually, the group became known as CIST and that chapter is now CIST West, which meets monthly in Carnegie.
“I constantly refer,” said McKibbin, a South Hills resident who has worked in sales and business development for nearly 20 years. “It’s kind of like I’m an Angie’s List, but for commercial and industrial people.”
McKibbin said any business or individual that can provide a service to the construction industry is welcome.
In addition to general contractors and subcontractors, CIST members include engineering firms, architectural firms, commercial cleaning companies, furniture suppliers, attorneys, banks, fire safety companies, property managers and more.
“All things are related,” she said.
“People think, ‘Oh, I don’t want to talk to the furniture sales person or the cleaning people.’ Why not? They probably know the owner of the building, or they know who is paying them.”
CIST continued to grow, and in 2009, the CIST East chapter, which meets near the Penn Hills neighborhood of Pittsburgh, started up.
Both chapters continued to grow, and demand led to the formation of the new north chapter this spring.
McKibbin said many companies based north of Pittsburgh, as well as those looking to do business in the north, drove the creation.
She said the Community Development Corporation of Butler County and the Butler County Tourism and Convention Bureau helped to get the word out to businesses that might be interested in joining.
CIST also hosts semiregular after-work mixers where members of all chapters and prospective members can meet.
“I don’t think anybody is actually focusing on the construction industry,” McKibbin said.
“The contacts we have and the leads that we give are up to date. They’re real projects that are going on.”
Jill McKibbin was recognized as one of the most influential female business leaders in the region by Pittsburgh Business Times during their annual Business Women First Award Ceremony! Congratulations Jill!