Volume 38, Issue 3, March 2003
Gamble On This …
BEC Conference Attendees Win Big on Industry Education and Updates
by Ellen Giard Chilcoat
Every year, month, week and day thousands of people travel to Las Vegas in hopes of winning big. But, more often than not, a quarter in the slots, the spin of the roulette wheel or the toss of the dice results in big losses—not big wins. There is, however, one reason to visit Vegas that’s not quite so risky, but rather quite beneficial: the Glass Association of North America’s (GANA) Building Envelope Contractors (BEC) conference. The annual event took place February 9-11 at the Luxor Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. More than 260 glass industry professionals, including glaziers and suppliers, took part in the conference.
The day prior to the conference’s general session, the BEC division met for its technical committee meeting to discuss a number of topics.
One item on the agenda was GANA’s Blueprint Reading and Labor Estimating Course. Recently updated (see related story in the January USGlass, page 26), the course will be available in the second quarter of 2003.
The group also discussed the Fabrication, Erection and Glazing Hours Manual, which they say will need to be reviewed and updated. Currently, the division is looking at the application of the manual and any work that needs to be done.
Greg Carney, GANA technical director, led a presentation on fenestration installation certification programs. “The purpose of the discussion was to consider the training and certification programs that are in the industry today and to decide if the BEC division wants to consider any involvement at this point,” said Carney. “The technical committee participants discussed the details and decided that neither action nor involvement on our part was needed at this point.”
Viva Las Vegas
To get the general session underway, BEC division president Andy Gum welcomed attendees.
“This is an exceptional time for GANA and the BEC division,” said Gum. “We are increasing our presence both in and out of the industry.”
He also noted that the BEC division was the fastest growing GANA division. The division began in 1998 with six members and today it has 77.
Gum next welcomed the conference’s keynote speaker: Michael Flynn, AIA, with Pei Cobb Freed and Partners Architects LLP.
One area Flynn talked about concerned energy conservation.
“Conforming to energy codes is more of a starting line than a finish line,” said Flynn. “Recent glass products offer an array of performance options … [that] fill the gap between clear glass and highly reflective glass.”
Flynn talked about design issues with a number of projects on which he worked, including the pyramid of the Louvre in Paris and the Bank of China in Hong Kong.
“Architects take their inspiration from what they are building and where [they] are building,” he said. “I find glass to be something that contributes to … enjoyment when … looked at,” Flynn added.
Two to One
Two presentations addressed the areas of security glazing, specifically blast-resistant glazing and protective glazing in windstorm applications.
The first was conducted by John Gustafson of CDC Inc. in Dallas and Holly Stone of Hinman Consultants of San Francisco. In their presentation, the two stressed that the protective glazing industry was not designing for no damage, but rather limited damage. They also pointed out that when designing a security glazing system, the glass is the weakest element; mullions, framing, anchorage, etc. are the strongest. The presentation explained that systems should be designed so glass has to fail first. Each element thereafter has to be stronger than the preceding.
The next presentation came from Jeff Granato of DuPont and focused on protective glazing in windstorm applications. Some of the facts Granato pointed out included: laminated glass breaks, but stays in the frame; laminated glass is used more extensively overseas; and while it is not used commonly in residential applications, it is beginning to be used more due to the new hurricane codes.
“No glass passes the hurricane test,” he said. “Glass in a proper system passes the hurricane test.”
Jerry Drake of Viracon led the following presentation, “Your Rights in Collecting Money.”
“We have to be careful that we monitor and stay on top of our cash,” he said. Some of the topics included in Drake’s seminar included cost of money, cost of loss, credit policy, lien rights and payment bonds among others.
Placing a Bet
Addressing the top ten challenges faced by the glazing industry, an industry challenges forum took place that afternoon. The panel lineup included John Barker of Glassalum; Don Haley of Haley-Greer; Leo Karas from Karas and Karas; Mary Carol Witry from Trainor Glass and Randy Wolf from Walters and Wolf Glass Co. Designed to be an interactive discussion, time was limited and the group was able to cover just over half the list (see sidebar below for the complete list).
The list’s number-ten challenge was lack of commitment and dealing with poor project coordination by general contractors. Karas, Haley and Wolf all agreed that one way to address this concern is to employ the right people.
“The problem we have is devoting enough resources to this subject,” said Haley. “We need to get the right people in place early on.”
“[One] way to not step into a bad situation is to put up a lot of up-front area,” said Wolf. “Get the higher quality person on site,” he said.
The number-nine challenge, lack of product knowledge by architects, stirred up a bit of discussion from the audience. Many agreed that the documents they often receive from architects are mis-designed or mis-specified, which can create problems at bid time.
Several on the panel were vocal on the matter, saying no one was really spending time educating architects. Karas, however, said his company did take time to meet with architects to better inform them of their needs.
Several audience members agreed that they too were putting forth efforts to educate architects.
“We’ve spent a lot of time with architects,” said Brad Austin of Viracon, “and our goal is to educate … not only in terms of products, but also codes.”
“I agree with Brad,” said Vistawall’s Tom Harris. “Our job is to get our product specified and we’ll work with any architect who will make an attempt to put the right language [in the documents].”
The industry’s concerns regarding better educating architects are not falling on deaf ears. “What we’re really looking for is someone who can help us understand how the system comes together,” said Charles Killebrew, an architect with Pickard Chilton.
|Top Ten Industry Challenges
One of the presentations taking place during the BEC conference focused on the top ten industry challenges faced by glazing contractors. Below is that list.
10 Lack of commitment and dealing with poor project coordination by general contractors;
9 Architects—lack of product knowledge;
8 Ramifications from the design/build process;
7 Inadequate architectural drawings and/or details;
6 Construction scheduling;
5 Project management;
4 Risk transfer or evaluation;
3 Bad documents and killer contracts;
2 Getting paid; and
1 Building a quality workforce.
All in the Cards
With the state of the economy a topic on the minds of the industry, the next discussion was an economic outlook panel, which included Bill Cralley of Kawneer; Ken Werbowy of Tubelite; Peter Koukos of Enclos Corp.; and Tom Harris of Vistawall.
Cralley began his presentation with three questions: What do we know? What are the facts? Where do we go from here?
Of what we know, he noted that we are in a changing business climate, with rising costs and we’re faced with increased competition and increased capacity. We’re also dealing with economic uncertainty.
So where do we go from here? Avoid being just another bidder, he said, and differentiate yourself from the competition.
Werbowy looked at several economic growth charts and reiterated Cralley’s words concerning non-residential construction.
“The commercial industry sectors are in bad shape,” he said. “[They] will fall another 4 percent in 2003.”
Peter Koukos focused on the U.S. curtainwall market; it too, he said, is in a period of recession.
Like the other presenters, Harris agreed that the U.S. commercial construction sector was not doing well. His presentation examined a number of economic growth charts including non-residential construction trends, office construction and office vacancy rates.
Reading the Codes
Bill Koffel from Koffel and Associates next provided an update on energy codes. His seminar focused on the new NFPA 5000 as well as the International Building Code.
The day’s last presentation came from Dr. Phillip Roos who talked about “The Osiris Factor.” His talk encouraged attendees to overcome human destructiveness and “say goodbye” to feelings of anger, shame, guilt and depression and to form better relationships with people, groups and nations.
As part of the evening’s reception, a silent auction was held. Items ranged from autographed sports memorabilia to golf clubs and digital cameras. More than $1,900 was raised for the BEC division’s scholarship fund.
The final day of the conference provided four presentations; two were led by Collette Nelson of the American Subcontractors Association. Nelson spoke on issues that are of concern to glazing contractors: risk reduction and indemnity.
According to Nelson, subcontractors are working in hostile business environments. When it comes to risk reduction, some of the advice she offered included selecting general contractors and the relationships glazing contractors have with them (see sidebar below for ten quality characteristics of a general contractor).
In her presentation on indemnity, Nelson talked about matters such as additional insured clauses, legislative solutions and other resources for glazing contractors.
The two other presentations came from Eddie Bugg of Kawneer, who spoke on sunscreens/sunshades, and Peter Poirier of Tremco Inc., who talked about commercial glazing terminology and systems.
In his presentation on sunshades, Bugg said that according to a survey of architects conducted about a year and a half ago, results showed that architects were likely to use sunshades in their projects. “There’s a lot of growing interest,” he said.
In his presentation on commercial glazing terminology and systems, Poirier said Tremco’s website is now set up to offer the American Institute of Architects’ architectural accreditation test. He demonstrated the procedure for taking and submitting the test.
|Selecting a General Contractor
According to a presentation from Collette Nelson of the American Subcontractors Association, there are several characteristics to look for in a general contractor. The following list summarizes those characteristics based on her presentation.
1. Reasonableness: Does the contractor strive for reasonable resolutions or does he impose unilateral will on subcontractors?
2. Honesty and trustworthiness: Does he honor his agreements and commitments?
3. Fairness: Does the contractor work to treat all parties fairly and equitably or does he exercise superior leverage without regard to subcontractors?
4. Pertinent experience: Has the contractor performed successfully the type of construction work required by the particular project in which you are involved?
5. Technical competence: Does he have technical experience and expertise to manage successfully a project and integrate the subcontractor’s work?
6. Financial capability: Is he financially capable of fulfilling his obligations to subcontractors?
7. Capable central and project management: Does the contractor have the necessary people skills and management experience at both the home office and the jobsite?
8. Sufficiency of available resources: Can the contractor coordinate the equipment and facilities the project requires?
9. Team spirit: Does he approach project management as a team effort, involving all team members, including subcontractors and suppliers?
10. Professional behavior: Does the contractor have a reputation for approaching each project as a professional?
What It’s All For
While many of those attending the conference had attended in the past, for several this was the first conference they’d attended.
“As a first-time attendee, I found the conference to be an excellent opportunity to meet with our industry leaders in a casual but professional setting,” said Cliff Helterbran of Helterbran Associates. “The programs offered were very informative and well presented.”
GANA’s 2004 BEC conference is scheduled to take place February 22-24 at the Monte Carlo Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.
Ellen Giard Chilcoat is an editor of USGlass magazine.
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