Volume 36, Issue 3, March 2001

Surrounded by the likes of Central Park, Times Square, the Statue of Liberty and a bit of Manhattan flare, it may sound as though those taking part in the Glass Association of North America’s (GANA) Fourth Annual Building Envelope Contractors (BEC) Conference came together in the Big Apple—but they didn’t. Instead, the group headed west to Las Vegas and the New York-New York Hotel and Casino, Sunday, February 11, through Tuesday, February 13, for three days of networking and education. 

Act One

The event began Sunday evening with a welcome reception, which gave attendees a chance to socialize in a relaxed environment, and prepare for the next day’s full agenda, which would officially kick off the conference.
Monday morning opened in the Lord of the Dance Theater for the general session. Pat Rome of Brin/ Northwestern Glass Co. and BEC division chairperson spoke first to the group, and welcomed all to the event. He noted that attendance for the 2001 conference had risen to 250 compared to 200 who had taken part in the previous year’s event. “It’s great to see this performance grow,” he said. 

Cast of Characters

Rome then turned the stage over to the hands of Keith Boswell, an architect with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP who led a seminar, “How the Glass Industry Can Assist the Architect.” 
“I feel more like a lounge singer than an architect,” he said from the stage, but quickly moved on to explain the design process from beginning to end through an architect’s point of view. Concept design, schematic design, design development, construction documents and construction administration were the areas of the architectural process Boswell discussed. He also explained how architects handle each step along the way. With schematic design, for instance, he noted that having access to samples, availability, system input and material limitations can be very beneficial to the architect. 
Curtainwall testing was next discussed by A.A. “Sak” Saknovsky of Construction Research Laboratory in Miami (See related story in September 2000 USGlass, page 44). Saknovsky discussed varying projects and areas of testing which have been performed, including projects which have been damaged by wind and water, and also pointed out that it is the architects that most often request the testing. When asked about how long it typically takes to test a building facade, Saknovsky said, “You really can’t say how long testing will last, but the longest took 22 months [to pass].”

After Intermission

Following a short communication break, attendees convened in the theater to begin the next seminar, “Major Contract Issues & Legal Updates,” by Joe Canterbury Jr. of Canterbury, Stuber, Elder, Gooch & Surratt P.C. “Although scopes of work and payment provisions are the major subcontract issues, there are many other provisions, which require careful attention when negotiating subcontracts,” Canterbury said. The four provisions discussed were: contingent payment clauses, indemnification and hold harmless, liquidated damages and no damage for delay clauses and change orders and their exceptions. 
Probably the most significant clause discussed concerned payment matters. Delayed payment clauses, he explained are either pay-if-paid or pay-when-paid. Pay-if-paid means the subcontractor doesn’t get paid unless the owner pays the contractor. Pay-when-paid contracts require that the contractor pay the subcontractor even if the owner becomes insolvent and does not pay the contractor—in other words, setting a time for the payments. “Generally, pay-if-paid clauses shift the risk of an owner’s non-payment from the general contractor to the subcontractor, while pay-when-paid only affect the timing of the payment.” Canterbury also noted that only two states—Wisconsin and North Carolina—have passed legislation that protects subcontractors even if they sign a pay-if-paid clause.

In Between Takes

A luncheon brought everyone together in the America Restaurant. In preparation for the next day’s Industry Challenges focus group, each table discussed matters of relevance and concerns to the industry, which would be reviewed Tuesday afternoon. 
After lunch, it was back to the theater for the “Curtainwall–Fire Code Requirements” panel, which was comprised of Don Belles of Koffel Associates Inc., Richard Licht of 3M and John Nicholas of Omega Point Laboratories Inc. Aside from discussing how to comply with fire code requirements, the matter of the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) creation of its own building code was also discussed (see related story in January 2001 USGlass, page 26). While each state will choose to adopt either the NFPA’s or the International Code Council’s code, it was pointed out that the two groups are working to keep each code compliant from state to state.
Next on the schedule was Karen Simmons, president of INFO2000 Information Services Inc., who led a seminar, “The Coming Age of E-Construction.” Simmons discussed Internet tools the building industry can use for breaking into e-construction. One tool, which can be helpful, is XML (extensible markup language). Unlike HTML (hypertext markup language), the language used to create websites, which merely defines the style, XML defines the content. 

Encore, Encore

After a second communication break, everyone anxiously headed back to the auditorium for Monday’s final seminar, and most anticipated, at that. Dr. Phillip Roos of P.S. Roos and Associates Inc. first wowed the group at the 2000 BEC conference, and everyone was once again excited about what the doctor would have to say in his lecture, “Managing Conflict—the Return of Dr. Phillip Roos.” His humorous look at conflict management had the audience laughing out loud. 
He said that “conflict exists because we live in three worlds: 

Industry Challenges

Contract glaziers encounter challenges on a daily basis. Whether it’s a struggle to be paid or simply finding good employees, the industry is constantly facing its own battles. At GANA’s BEC conference, a compilation of the industry’s top 15 challenges was discussed. Below is the group’s list of challenges:
1. Recruiting talented people to the industry, and then training them;
2. Establishment of an industry standard 
subcontract form;
3. Conserving or reducing the amount of 
energy used;
4. Seismic information and training;
5. Being paid;
6. Pre-qualifying glazing contract and major support;
7. Design/build- participating while 
contract’s at risk;
8. Getting good documents from the architect and engineers;
9. Enforcement of specs/projects standards by architects;
10. Lack of coordination among different 
trends;
11. Profitable management during economic
downturns;
12. Competing with a low-bid mentality;
13. Knowing your costs;
14. Economic impact or energy shortage;

All the World’s a Stage

On Monday evening the group gathered for a reception, where they were able to talk about the day’s lessons, prepare for Tuesday’s focus group discussions and even catch up with old friends. 
The next morning began with a continental breakfast before the CEO panel forum on curtainwall and window wall systems kicked off. Those on the panel were: Bill Cralley, Kawneer Co.; Chris Fuldner, EFCO Corp.; Gary Houdek, Wausau Window and Wall Systems; Ron Rutledge, Vistawall Architectural Products; Ken Werbowy, Tubelite; and, J.D. Williams, U.S. Aluminum. The panel was moderated by Steve Barber of Arcadia Products Inc.
Topics reviewed ranged from market trends in 2001 to the present energy crisis. Concerning the 2001 market, Rutledge said, “At this time, the economy is in decline, and education and health are the only strong markets … it’s pessimistic short-term, but optimistic long term.”
Werbowy added, “2001 will be a very good market year for our segment, but I’m concerned about 2002; there may be some bumps.”
When one audience member asked about the current energy crisis, those on the panel all voiced concerned opinions on the present state. Cralley noted that Kawneer had to shut down one of its California plants when it incurred more than $100,000 in fines for continuing to operate during the power crisis. “It’s a big factor starting to take a piece out of the gross margin,” he said. Rutledge also remarked to the inquisitive audience, “You should be concerned about your pricing on your products. Be as firm as you can be for as long as you can.” 
On a lighter note, Fuldner simply said, “At EFCO, we’re just glad we don’t have a plant in California.”

In the Spotlight 

The day’s final seminar was the Industry Challenges forum discussion. Panelists were: Charles Clark, Architectural Glass and Aluminum Co. Inc.; Glenn Heitmann, Heitmann & Associates Inc. and Bill Nash of McCarthy Construction. The panel discussion was moderated by Leo Karas of Karas & Karas Glass Co. Inc. Before talks began, Karas was recognized as the founder of GANA’s BEC division, and was presented an art glass sculpture award for his efforts. 
A compilation of challenges was presented, and included recruiting and training, establishing an industry standard subcontract and conservative or reducing energy use. (See above sidebar for list of industry challenges.) In an effort to encourage college students to learn more about the glazing industry, one audience member suggested a program designed to inform students of the industry and to get more people interested. Greg Carney, GANA technical director, suggested a possible scholarship program.

the author

Ellen Giard is the managing editor of USGlass magazine.