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Innovators & Entrepreneurs Magazine

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Mark Clemmensen

In the ever-evolving landscape of the construction industry, the importance of precise and high-quality specifications cannot be overstated. Enter Mark Clemmensen, a seasoned architectural specifications writer with two decades of unparalleled industry experience. As one of only 45 acting Registered Specification Writers (RSWs) in Canada, Mark's expertise is not just extensive—it’s exceptional.

Mark has dedicated his career to mastering the art and science of construction specifications. With experience that spans retail, commercial, healthcare, institutional, and residential construction sectors, his knowledge is both deep and broad. A LEED Certified Professional and an RSW for over a decade, Mark has held nearly every title in the field, from junior specification writer to manager of specifications for Canada. His experience as both a technical sales representative for an international manufacturer of air barriers, waterproofing and roofing, and as a technical support leader for the largest municipality in Ontario, give him a unique perspective on navigating contracts and reviewing specifications from all angles.

In 2023, Mark founded V SPECS, a groundbreaking company located in Ontario, dedicated to addressing a critical need within the design community: high-quality, updated, user-friendly specifications. "I realized when working as an owners representative, reviewing countless project specifications, our industry was stuck in a continuous cycle regarding the quality of specifications being tendered on projects.  There is a direct correlation between poor quality/outdated product manufacturers specs and the copy/paste approach to project specifications issued by the design community,” says Mark.

V SPECS is more than just a consultancy; it is an educational force within the construction industry. The company’s mission is to educate professionals about the importance of specifications and the critical information required within a product master specification to make them useful to end-users. What sets V SPECS apart is its pioneering approach to certifying specifications. V SPECS is the first company globally to certify specifications by affixing the V SPECS VERIFIED Seal on product specifications passing their thorough quality inspection. However, Mark’s vision for V SPECS is not just to improve the quality of construction documentation, but to set a new standard that others in the industry can aspire to. With V SPECS, Mark is transforming the way the construction industry views and values specifications, ensuring that every project is built on a foundation of precision and reliability.

With V SPECS making waves in the construction industry through its innovative approach to specifications, we seized the opportunity to sit down with Mark to delve deeper into his vision, experiences, and the future of construction documentation. In this exclusive Q&A, Mark shares insights on the importance of high-quality specifications, the challenges faced by the industry, and how V SPECS is setting new standards.

Mark, let's start with your inspiration for founding V SPECS. What motivated you to create the company?

I’m passionate about specifications, so after two decades of encountering repeated quality and content issues within tendered specifications, I was determined to find a solution that all parties would benefit. The main issues I discovered were first, the lack of understanding by product manufacturers as to what is “required” in their specifications to permit tendering by their clients. Second, the design community’s inability to use outdated and/or poorly executed product master specs, resulting in “recycling” of old project specs from years past.

I have people on one side of the fence complaining that the documents are outdated and not useful, while people on the other side are frustrated that the provided information isn’t used on projects. When subpar specifications are tendered, it leads to change orders and site instructions, resulting in additional project costs and delays for the client.

A big part of the solution lies in V SPECS's revolutionary Specifications Certification Seal. Tell us about this, and how it benefits building product manufacturers and the design community.

Manufacturers and the design community are very excited about this Seal, which is offered pro bono because I’m so passionate about improving specification quality in our industry. The manufacturers benefit because it identifies, through third-party verification, that they are meeting or exceeding quality standards that the design community need for quality and completeness.

The design community is eager for the Seal for two reasons. First, the specification is dated. A big problem in our industry is trusting the specifications provided by manufacturers are updated and complete, because they’re generally not. I’m still handed sections that are over ten years out of date, accompanied with the statement, “Please use this on your next project.” Can you believe that? It's like going to a restaurant and the chef preparing your meal with ingredients that are expired for three years, saying, “Can you please eat that for dinner? Don’t worry, I’ve been cooking for 30 years, BUT if you get sick, it’s not the restaurant’s liability because you ate it!”

We’re solving this problem in specifications with our V SPECS VERIFIED Seal. The VERIFIED Seal is valid for 12 months, ensuring that sections affixed with the Seal are current, valid, and ready for use on projects. As the Seal nears expiry, we reconnect with the manufacturers, and request any content modifications needed with the section, before updating and recertifying. Now the design community knows for certain that the section is always up to date and third-party verified. Manufacturers are able to integrate the Seal within their online advertising campaigns, to instill confidence and credibility in potential clients. We also offer our V SPECS VERIFIED Annual Maintenance Partner Program, which provides annual reviews and updates, so that manufacturers maintain their Seal, ensuring they never have an outdated Product Master Spec EVER AGAIN!

Tell us about your Product Master Spec Report Cards. What are some of the major elements that you evaluate to issue the V SPECS VERIFIED Seal?

We offer complementary Product Master Spec Report Cards as part of our commitment to improving industry standards. This is a comprehensive 35-point inspection where we review and score your Product Master Spec against industry standards to assess the quality and completeness of the information within the document. We break down the section piece by piece and also evaluate it holistically.


We quickly and easily identify areas where a section is both excelling and lacking, pinpointing deficiencies that prevent your target clients from including your specifications in their Master Spec Library. The result is an easy-to-follow, color-coded report card. If your section passes, we issue the V SPECS VERIFIED Seal. If your section does not pass, we provide detailed observations within the report card, explaining how to elevate the section to meet industry standards. Once the section is updated, and meets the criteria outlined in the Report Card,  the section receives our Seal.

Sections affixed with V SPECS VERIFIED Seal are eligible to enroll in our Annual Maintenance Partner Program, which provides yearly reviews/updates in the following areas: Additions/revisions to section content, updates to reference standards, products, finishes and accessories, and inclusion of sustainable design requirements and energy targets.

You also offer a variety of complementary seminars. Can you share a few of your most popular ones?

I’d love to! One of our most popular seminars is Spec-Science-101, designed for individuals looking to learn more about specification writing. Most firms are now filling “Swiss army knife” positions, where hires handle multiple roles. By learning spec writing, you can significantly increase your value within any firm, easily translating into increased wages and leadership roles on project teams. This seminar provides a foundational understanding of specifications, breaking down the composition of a specification and learning how to coordinate specs with the drawings before tendering.

Another popular seminar is Creating “User-Friendly” Product Master Specifications, which is geared toward building product manufacturers. In this seminar, I provide a detailed review of a Product Master Spec and present a V SPECS VERIFIED Report Card case study. I reveal the secrets to success when creating a 3-Part Product Master Specification and break down the essential elements that spec writers need, demystifying the creation of "user-friendly,” “adaptable,” and time-saving Product Master Specs.

As you’re leading the charge to raise the bar on quality product manufacturing specs, you’re also working to help product manufacturers and sales professionals thrive with your unique sales programs. Let’s talk about two of these in particular. First, tell us about your Technical Toolbox Review.

In my decades as a spec writer, I’ve worked on three sides of the negotiation table—as a consultant’s representative, an owner’s representative, and as a technical sales representative —and I realized that no matter how good your product is, or how skilled your technical sales teams are, people want to do business with those they trust. If clients feel like they don’t know you or understand your product, the trust isn’t there. Without trust, there are no sales. Often, even the hardest-working, most dedicated salespeople might not have had access to the tools required to succeed.

Our Technical Toolbox Review is a digital marketing and technical document verification that includes a comprehensive review of three key areas for the product manufacturer. First, we examine technical documentation, including product master specs, details and shop drawings. Second, we review supporting documentation, such as installation manuals, color charts, sustainable design and warranty requirements. Third, we assess the product manufacturer’s digital documentation, including their website, marketing flyers, comparison charts, and more. This holistic approach ensures that all aspects of a product manufacturer’s documentation are up to standard, helping to build trust and drive sales.

Another popular offering is V SPEC’S New-2-Sales Training. Can you share some details about this?

I'm very passionate about moving our industry away from the "You're hired, now go sell!" culture and toward creating a positive, nurturing, and mentoring environment that unlocks the true potential of technical sales teams. Our New-2-Sales Training is a series of informative training videos designed from the perspective of a spec writer, teaching you how to sell to someone like me, which is quite unique.

We've developed a collection of training videos specifically for technical representatives entering architectural sales to reinforce sales techniques, build confidence, and increase brand awareness. The goal is to help them—and the business—thrive.

We dive deeper into technical aspects like breaking down a specification in a simplified manner, understanding spec acceptance (e.g., “Sole Sourced” vs. “Acceptable Alternate” vs. “Basis-of-Design”), and the importance of marketing your product solution correctly to the right people. This comprehensive training series ensures that technical sales teams are well-equipped to succeed in the competitive architectural sales landscape.

You’ve had an extraordinary career as a leader in this field, Mark. What continues to drive you?

I've been fortunate to train alongside some of the best specification writers in North America, moving between firms whenever opportunities to advance my development and project experience arose. I've worked on the vast majority of project types using various contract delivery methods common in North America, and I've had the privilege of mentoring industry professionals the craft of specification writing. For me, it’s time to give back to an industry that I’m so passionate about and that has given me so much.


Mark Clemmensen

Founder, Registered Specifications Writer





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