by Regina R. Johnson
The first Contract Glazing Conference (CGC) just may have been the surest bet in Las Vegas when it kicked off January 11-13 at the Rio Suite Hotel and Casino. A group of approximately 120 contract glaziers and other professionalstriple the expected numberparticipated in the program with its theme, The Future of Contract Glazing. Based on the enthusiasm and commitment of the attendees, the future of the conference, at least, seems quite secure.
After a welcome reception the evening of Sunday, January 11, the event, sponsored by the Glass Association of North America (GANA), commenced with opening comments from GANA president Leo Karas of Karas & Karas Glass Co. of Boston, MA, and a keynote address by Bill Swango.
In How to Survive Profitably Through the Year 2005 and Beyond, Swango, of B.J. Swango Consulting in Dallas, TX, offered his advice on "reducing the odds of losing" at contract glazing, which he deemed a "gambling addiction." He emphasized the importance of creating a corporate culture of professionalism, installing a defensive business strategy and developing a "building envelope" philosophy of control.
A highlight of the conference involved a panel of industry experts from the glass, metal and installation areas who shared their insights concerning contract glazing products and practices into the next century. The presenters included Brad Austin of Viracon in Owatonna, MN; Chris Barry of Pilkington LOF in Toledo, OH; Tom Harris of Vistawall Architectural Products in Terrell, TX; Dave Hewitt of Kawneer Company, Inc. in Norcross, GA; Bill Lingnell of Lingnell Consulting Services in Rockwall, TX; and Swango.
Predictions in the area of glass include a market shift from low-performance glass to medium- and high-performance products, more innovation and an increasing demand for value-added products. The metal professionals expect to see an evolution of products, rather than any radical changes. Some of these trends include the increased use of computer technologies, more sophisticated products and services and an emphasis on the glazier-supplier relationship. Finally, the installation experts predict increasing difficulty in finding trained labor.
The question-and-answer session that followed the presentations was a charged atmosphere with much discussion focusing on the issue of glazier certification. Many participants asserted that the manufacturer has a responsibility to certify contract glaziers who use their products, due to the liability involved, while others suggested GANA should be the authorizing organization. Regardless of their opinions on the implementation of such a system, the majority of attendees seemed to agree that there is a need for more accountability in the contract glazing industry.
"There is a real need for certification of contract glaziers as specialists," according to Anne-Merelie Murrell of Giroux Glass, Inc. in Los Angeles. "These efforts are heading toward that and I want to be on-board."
Bobby Herzog of Herzog Glass, Inc. in Seattle, WA, disagreed. "This is a non-issue because its the general contractor who chooses the contract glaziers, not the manufacturer." He added that certification is less important to shops like his, whose staff are union members that are self-trained.
Other highlights of the conference included discussions on successful mock-ups and testing, challenges posed by glazing the Kuala Lumpur City Center Twin Towers in Malaysia and certification of curtainwall systems by the National Fenestration Rating Council.
The pinnacle event was on Tuesday, when attendees were treated to a tour of the unique high-rise architecture of the famed Las Vegas Strip, with an emphasis on the glass and metal work. The tours leader, Rod Rood of Sierra Glass and Mirror, Inc. in Las Vegas, shared his companys experiences as the contract glazier on many of the sights. Some of these hotels included the Rio Suite Hotel and Casino, which uses sapphire blue coating on blue glass, purple glass and rose coating on bronze glass; the Mirage, said to be the largest 24-karat gold job in the world; New York New York with its colorful facade; and the MGM Grand, with its vast expanse of green glass. Greg Carney of Clinton, NC-based Interpane Glass Company also added his insights on the glass details.
"Based on feedback from the CGC, GANA is developing a Building Envelope Contractor Division to address the needs of contract glaziers," said Karas. "GANAs goal is to create a cadre of professionals in the contract glazing business on whom the architect, general contractor and owner can rely, and who will be more inclined to use our products and services."
A second Contract Glazing Conference is being planned for the first quarter of next year.
Regina R. Johnson is the managing editor of USGlass.
© Copyright 1998 Key Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.