Volume 48, Issue 3- March 2013

feature

Big, Big, Big
USGlass Magazine’s Annual Look at
the Nation’s Top Contract Glazing Firms

Ask most anyone in the construction industry and they’ll likely tell you that 2012 proved to be a better year than the recent years before. It’s certainly true for the majority of the firms ranked as part of the USGlass magazine annual listing of the nation’s top contract glazing companies. In fact, most companies reported an increase in their backlogs for last year and are generally optimistic about what’s to come in 2013.

As we all know, however, the past few years have been a struggle for the contract glazing industry and, unfortunately, many have not survived. As you read through these next 15 pages you’ll see many familiar names, but you’ll also see the absence of others. Trainor Glass, which had been ranked at the top of the charts for years, ceased operations in 2012. CBO Glass, which was number seven last year, was acquired by Gamma (see related article on page 46). Other companies, though, have enjoyed large upticks. Harmon Inc., for example, saw annual sales soar from $98.1 million in 2011 to $180 million in 2012.

In the following pages, you’ll find not only a look at the industry’s main players, but also several accompanying stories about working in today’s contract glazing environment, recent projects, design trends and more.

The information listed in this section comes from a number of sources, including submissions from the companies themselves, industry interviews, as well as our own estimates. Annual sales listed include volume for commercial work only and backlog change refers to the increases or decreases in reserved projects since last year. This is included only when provided by the company. *When not available, annual commercial sales were estimated.

1. Permasteelisa North America Corp.
Windsor, Conn.
www.permasteelisausa.com
2012 Annual Sales: $200 million+*
Chief operating officer: Claudio Daniele
Number of Employees: 1,000
Years in Business: 24
Permasteelisa Group is a contractor in the engineering, project management, manufacturing and installation of architectural envelopes and interior systems.

2. Harmon Inc.
Bloomington, Minn.
www.harmoninc.com
2012 annual sales: $180 million
President/CEO: Brad Austin
Number of locations: 14
Years in business: 63
Number of employees: 600
Backlog change: Increased
Harmon partners with owners, architects, contractors and consultants to engineer, fabricate and install innovative façade solutions. The company’s team works with customers to find solutions for their projects.

3. Enclos
Eagan, Minn.
www.enclos.com
2012 annual sales: $160 million*
President/CEO: Gregg Sage
Years in business: 67 years
Number of employees: 450
Number of locations: 16
Backlog change: Decreased
Enclos is involved in the design, engineering, fabrication, assembly and erection of custom facade systems, providing complete design-build services to the construction marketplace. The company specializes in innovative architecture and challenging building projects.

4. Walters & Wolf
Fremont, Calif.
www.waltersandwolf.com
2012 annual sales: $140.3 million
President/CEO: Randy Wolf
Number of locations: 5
Number of employees: 497
Years in business: 36
Walters & Wolf is a West Coast provider of cladding services. Founded by John Walters and Randy Wolf in 1977, company officials say they aim to take direct responsibility for every phase of a project, from concept to completion.

5. W&W Glass
Nanuet, N.Y.
www.wwglass.com
2012 annual sales: $90 million
Managing partners: Mike Haber, Jeff Haber, Scott Haber and Howard Haber
Years in business: 35
Number of employees: 130 N
umber of locations: 1
Backlog changed: Increased 30%
W&W Glass is a New York-based glazing subcontractor that specializes in unitized curtainwall, storefronts, interior glass and glazing. W&W is also the North American distributor of the Pilkington Planar structural glass system.

6. Gamma Windows & Walls International Inc. (A Division of Far East Global Group Ltd.)
Concord, Ontario
www.gammainternational.org
2012 annual sales: $90 million President/CEO: Elliot Kracko/Jim Mitchell
Years in business: 40+
Number of employees: 460
Number of locations: 9
Backlog change: Increased by 30%
A division of the Far East Global Group Limited, Gamma is one of the largest curtainwall companies in North America and says it is known for its customer commitment to “Performance Assured” for more than 40 years.

7. Architectural Glass & Aluminum.
Livermore, Calif.
www.aga-ca.com
2012 annual sales: $72.4 million
President/CEO: John Buckley
Years in business: 42
Number of employees: 125
Number of locations: 3
Backlog change: increased 23%
AGA is a full service design, engineering, manufacturing and installation contractor of custom curtainwall and building cladding systems. The firm has been in continuous operations for more than 40 years.

8. Benson Ltd.
Portland, Ore.
www.bensonglobal.com
2012 annual sales: $63.3 million*
President/CEO: Lou Niles
Number of locations: 8
Employees: 621
Years in business: 22
Benson Industries provides design, engineering, supply and installation of curtainwall and external cladding.

9. TSI Exterior Walls Inc.
Upper Marlboro, Md.
www.tsicorporations.com
2012 annual sales: $51.8 million
President/CEO: Victor Cornellier
Years in business: 37
Number of employees: 110
Number of locations: 1
Backlog change: Decreased 20% Established in 1977, TSI has grown to become one of the largest local building envelope/glass and glazing companies in the Baltimore-Washington, D.C. area.

10. Massey’s Plate Glass and Aluminum Inc.
Branford, Conn.
www.masseysglass.com
2012 annual sales: $51 million
President/CEO: Bob Massey, Jr.
Years in business: 40
Number of employees: 130+
Number of locations: 2
Backlog change: Increased
The company provides design consultation, technical expertise, single source efficiency, unitized wall systems, self-performed fabrication and installation.

11. Karas & Karas Glass Co.
Boston, Mass.
www.karasglass.com
2012 annual sales: $49 million
President/CEO: Joseph Karas
Years in business: 86
Number of employees: 91
Number of locations: 1
Backlog change: Increased 20%
Karas & Karas is a family-owned wholesaler and contract glazing contractor focusing on complex projects with multiple exterior envelope components including unitized curtainwall systems and metal panel systems.

12. Seele Inc.
New York, N.Y.
www.seele.com
2012 annual sales: $48
Million President/CEO: Attila Arian
Years in business: 11
Number of employees: 38
Number of locations: 2
Backlog change: Decreased 30%
Seele is a high-end glazing and curtainwall contractor with strong German based engineering and manufacturing. The company specializes in all-glass structures, customized curtainwalls, steel and glass structures, membrane roofs and light weight ETFE/PTFE building skins.

13. National Enclosure Company LLC
Pontiac, Mich.
www.nationalenclosure.com
2012 annual sales: $45 million
President/CEO: David Sauld
Years in business: 3.5
Number of employees: 125
Number of locations: 3
Backlog change: Increased 13%
National Enclosure Company is a nationally-ranked curtainwall and advanced façade contractor with expertise in monumental and high-rise curtainwall projects.

14. Admiral Glass & Mirror
Houston, Texas
www.admiralglass.net
2012 annual sales: $45 million
Senior executive/vice president and general manager: Roger Putz
Years in business: 29
Number of employees: 365
Number of locations: 2
Backlog change: Increased
Admiral Glass is a high-performance contract glazing company specializing in building enclosures.

15. Architectural Wall Systems Co.
West Des Moines, Iowa
www.archwall.com
2012 annual sales: $44 million
President/CEO: Mike Cunningham (CEO)
Number of locations: 2
Number of employees: 130
Years in business: 21
Backlog change: Increased 19%
AWS specializes in providing custom exterior façade solutions. The company offers engineering and design solutions, as well as custom manufacturing for systems of all types.

16. SPS Corp.
Apex, N.C.
www.spscorporation.com
2012 annual sales: $42 million*
President/CEO: Michael J. Russo (owner), Christopher J. Craney (owner/CFO)
Number of locations: 2;
Number of employees: 152
Years in business: 31 SPS Corporation is a full-service specialty contractor based in Apex, N.C.

17. Haley-Greer Inc.
Dallas, Texas
www.haleygreer.com
2012 annual sales: $35 million
President/CEO: Don Haley (CEO), Letitia Barker (president)
Number of locations: 2
Number of employees: 150
Years in business: 34
Haley-Greer Inc. was founded in 1979 by Don Haley and Jim Greer. Haley-Greer’s market area currently is concentrated in the state of Texas although the company has completed several projects throughout the United States located in Washington, D.C., Louisiana, Virginia, North Carolina, California and Maryland.

18. Heinaman
Contract Glazing Lake Forest, Calif.
www.heinaman.net
2012 annual sales: $28.8 million*
President/CEO: John Heinaman (Chairman/CEO), Tom Howhannesian (President)
Number of locations: 2
Number of employees: 90
Years in business: 25
Heinaman Contract Glazing provides high-quality curtainwall glazing, unitized glazing, aluminum panel systems, doors, windows and various architectural aluminum and glass products.

19. Cherry Hill Glass Co. Inc.
Branford, Conn.
www.cherryhillglass.com
2012 annual sales: $27.5 million
President/CEO: Kevin O’Neill
Years in business: 21
Number of employees: 85
Number of locations: 1
Backlog change: Increased 50%
Cherry Hill Glass is a full service commercial exterior wall contractor. Our fabricators are extremely talented and our fabrication equipment is state of the art. We have high quality people in the field. Our focus is customer satisfaction and generating repeat business.

20. Champion Metal & Glass Inc.
Deer Park, N.Y.
www.championmetalglass.com
2012 annual sales: $26 million
President/CEO: Ali Ghahremani
Years in business: 19
Number of employees: 124
Number of locations: 1
Backlog change: Increased 30% Champion is constantly learning, growing, asking, wondering “what if …” And staying ahead of industry trends allows us to offer tremendous value when we find new solutions that enhance the design and improve the functionality of a building.

21. Ajay Glass & Mirror Co. Inc.
Canandaigua, N.Y.
www.ajayglass.com
2012 annual sales: $25.4 million
President/CEO: Demetrios Stathopoulos (CEO), Steve Stathopoulos (president and COO), Dean Stathopoulos (executive vice president/treasurer)
Number of locations: 3
Number of employees: 160
Years in business: 57
Ajay Glass designs, fabricates and installs custom or standard exterior wall systems that meet its customers’ specifications. The company also provides architects, contractors and owners with budgeting, design assistance, material sourcing/selection assistance and planning/scheduling.

22. R&R Window Contractors Inc.
Easthampton, Mass.
www.rrwindow.com
2012 annual sales: $24.5 million
President/CEO: Roger A. Fuller
Years in business: 35
Number of employees: 108
Number of locations: 1
Backlog change: Decreased 20%
R&R Window Contractors Inc. is a commercial window, storefront and curtainwall trade contractor with a strong presence performing a variety of private and municipal/educational projects throughout New England.

23. Crown Corr
Gary, Ind.
2012 annual sales: $24.3 million
CEO/President: Richard J. Pellar
Number of locations: 4
Employees: 200
Years in business: 53
Crown Corr Inc. is a subcontractor specializing in metal panel, glass and aluminum curtainwall building enclosure systems.

24. Giroux Glass Inc.
Los Angeles, Calif.
www.girouxglass.com
2012 annual sales: $22.8 million
President/CEO: Anne-Merelie Murrell (CEO)/Robert Burkhammer (President)
Number of locations: 4;
Number of employees: 125
Years in business: 67
Giroux Glass Inc., an employee-owned glass, glazing and architectural metals contracting company, operates branches in Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Las Vegas and Fresno. The company caters to the glazing needs of the commercial, retail, and design residential sectors.

25. Juba Aluminum Products Company Inc.
Concord, N.C.
www.jubaproducts.com
2012 annual sales: $19 million
President/CEO: Janna J. Riley/John Juba
Years in business: 20
Number of employees: 85
Number of locations: 1
Backlog change: Remained the same.
Juba Aluminum Products specializes in building exteriors - curtainwalls, storefronts and aluminum panels on both new construction and recladding projects. We offer viable solutions that best suit the unique requirements of each project.

26. Alexander Metals Inc.
Nashville, Tenn.
www.alexandermetalsinc.com
2012 annual sales: $18.9 million
President/CEO: Alec Estes
Years in business: 21
Number of locations: 1
Number of employees: 90
Backlog change: Increased 19%
Alexander Metals is a commercial subcontractor that specializes in promotion, sales, fabrication and installation of building envelope products.

27. Egan Company d/b/a InterClad
Plymouth, Minn.
www.eganco.com
2012 annual sales: $18 million
President/CEO: Jim Malecha
Years in business: 14
Number of employees: 45
Number of locations: 1
Backlog change: Increased 14%
InterClad was founded in 1998 as a stand alone division of the Egan Companies. Its origins lie in part to a long standing company called Commercial Air, which fabricated and installed metal panels and specialty metals and was purchased by Egan in the early 1990’s. In 1997, Egan saw an opportunity to expand the cladding business by adding expertise in the curtainwall and glazing areas.

28. LCG Facades
Salt Lake City, Utah
www.lcgfacades.com
2012 annual sales: $18 million
President/CEO: Gary Dabb
Years in business: 7
Number of employees: 95
Number of locations: 1
Backlog change: Increased 3%
The company is a specialty subcontractor in the intermountain area that focuses on the entire façade including glass curtainwall, exterior metal panel, terracotta and dimensioned stone.

29. Koch Corp.
Louisville, Ky.
www.kochcorporation.com
2012 annual sales: $15-20 million
President/CEO: Benjamin Feinn
Years in business: 76
Number of employees: 91
Number of locations: 1
Backlog change: Decreased by 20%
Koch has the ability to perform complex glazing work in all 50 states, territories, Canadian provinces and the Caribbean, offering in-house product application design, shop drawing capabilities, abatement and installation.

30. Metropolitan Glass Inc.
Denver, Colo.
www.metroglass.com
2012 annual sales: $15.5 million
President/CEO: Michael Smith
Years in business: 49
Number of employees: 75
Number of locations: 1
Backlog change: Decreased 4%
Founded in 1964, Metropolitan Glass Inc. specializes in the installation of curtainwalls, storefronts, skylights and metal panel systems.

31. Best Contracting Services Inc.
Gardena, Calif.
www.bestcontracting.com
2012 annual sales: $13.8 million*
President/CEO: Moji Taba (president), Sean Tabazadeh (CEO)
Number of locations: 2
Number of employees: 500
Years in business: 31
BEST Contracting Services is a large specialty contractor that provides construction services for the entire building envelope. The company serves commercial, institutional and industrial building owners in both the private and public market sectors.

32. Window Consultants Inc.
Owings Mills, Md.
www.window-consultants.com
2012 annual sales: $12.1 million
President/CEO: Steve Downing
Years in business: 23
Number of employees: 16
Number of locations: 1
Backlog change: Remained the same
Window Consultants was conceived and incorporated in Maryland nearly 25 years ago, intent on becoming the ‘go to’ source for analysis, design, engineering and installation in the architectural window industry.

33. Specified Systems Inc.
Canonsburg, Pa.
www.specifiedsystems.com
2012 annual sales: $11.5 million
President/CEO: William K. Wilson
Years in business: 20
Number of employees: 29 staff plus up to 45 in the field.
Number of locations: 2
Backlog change: Increased by 8 %
Specified Systems Inc. is an erecting distributor of commercial and industrial windows and a fabricator/erector of aluminum entrances and storefronts, curtainwall and custom glass and metal applications.

34. Aragon Construction Inc.
Montclair, Calif.
www.aragonconstruction.com
2012 annual sales: $11.3 million
President/CEO: Joe Aragon
Number of locations: 1
Years in business: 12
Number of employees: 80-90
Backlog change: Increased 30%
Aragon Construction Inc. is a family owned certified 8(a), Small Business Enterprise, Minority Business Enterprise glazing contractor. Our diverse capabilities make any project doable. Our specialized skills make every project exceptional.

35. Modern Mirror & Glass Co.
Roseville, Mich.
www.modernglass.net
2012 annual sales: $ 11.2 million
President/CEO: Paula Zeoli
Years in business: 68
Number of employees: 75
Number of locations: 1
Backlog change: Increased 30%
Modern Mirror & Glass Company is a full-service specialty glazing contractor. Its experience ranges from single lite installations to glass handrails, skylights and structural glass wall.

36. Crawford Tracey Corp.
Deerfield Beach, Fla.
www.crawfordtracey.com
2012 annual sales: $11.1 million
President/CEO: Ray Crawford
Years in business: 57
Number of employees: 70
Number of locations: 2
Backlog change: Decreased 15%
Founded in 1956, Crawford Tracey is a full-service glazing contractor that designs, manufactures and installs its own curtainwall and other glazing systems.

37. Curtis Glass Co.
Troy, Mich.
www.curtisglass.com
2012 annual sales: $10.2 million
President/CEO: Robert D. Luscombe
Years in business: 27
Number of employees: 35
Number of locations: 1
Backlog change: Decreased 10%
The company is located in a 35,000 square-foot building with 12,000 square feet dedicated to fabrication including in-house fabrication of curtainwall, storefronts and doors. The company offers professional estimating and project management staff for project quotations, technical information, fast track projects and design/build projects.

38. JMD Architectural Products
Tipp City, Ohio
www.jmdinc.com
2012 annual sales: $9.7 million
President/CEO: Jeff Bear
Years in business: 31
Number of employees: 41
Number of locations: 2
Backlog change: Increased 5%
JMD says it is a common commercial glazing company that considers employees as family and does its best to treat them accordingly. The company says while increased sales and profitability are important, its goal is for all employees to be able to live comfortably and take care of their families.

39. Denison Glass & Mirror Inc.
Denison, Texas
www.denisonglass.com
2012 annual sales: $ 9.1 million
President/CEO: Mark Gampper
Years in business: 66
Number of employees: 55
Number of locations: 1
Backlog change: Increased 1%
Denison Glass is devoted to quality fabrication, design, engineering and installation of glass products and framing systems in virtually every architectural application, including new construction, green building solutions, building rehabilitation, storefronts and entrances, and tenant interiors.

40. ACE Glass Construction Corp.
Little Rock, Ark.
www.aceglass.net
2012 annual sales: $8.8 million
President/CEO: Courtney Little
Years in business: 27
Number of employees: 75
Number of locations: 2
Backlog change: Increased 25%
For more than 25 years Ace Glass has manufactured, fabricated, supplied and installed glass and aluminum related products, including glass, mirrors, sheet metal, composite panel, windows, doors, storefronts and curtainwalls.

41. Key Glass LLC
Bradenton, Fla.
www.keyglass.com
2012 annual sales: $7.9 million
President/CEO: Greg Burkhart
Years in business: 21
Number of employees: 46
Number of locations: 1
Backlog change: Increased 3%
Founded in 1992, Key Glass is one of the largest and most reliable commercial glazing contractors in Florida, offering a full portfolio of glazing products, including curtainwalls, storefronts, windows, hurricane impact systems and entrance doors.

42. D-M Products Inc.
Bethel Park, Pa.
www.dmproductsinc.com
2012 annual sales: $7.5 million
President/CEO: Dick Macurak
Years in business: 28 N
N umber of employees: 25
Number of locations: 1
Backlog change: Decreased 50%
For almost 40 years, D-M Products Inc. has specialized in the sales and installation of high-performance windows and curtainwalls for commercial building projects in Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

43. Bacon & Van Buskirk
Champaign, Ill.
www.bvbglass.com; www.bamuntins.com
2012 annual sales: $7 million
President/CEO: Rod Van Buskirk
Years in business: 75
Number of employees: 49
Number of locations: 2
Backlog change: Increased 10%
Bacon & Van Buskirk is Central Illinois’ premier full-service glass company.

44. Hale Glass Inc.
Placentia, Calif.
www.HaleGlass.com
2012 annual sales: $6.3 million
President/CEO: Gloria Hale
Years in business: 35
Number of employees: 42
Number of locations: 1
Backlog change: Increased 150%
Hale Glass provides a full range of glass services for new construction and tenant improvement projects. Affordable quality and pride in workmanship have earned Hale Glass a reputation for commitment to service, performance and dependability.

45. Forno Enterprises Inc.
Trout, N.Y.
www.fornoenterprises.com
2012 annual sales: $5.8 million
President/CEO: Michael Spaccaforno
Years in business: 25
Number of employees: 23
Number of locations: 1
Backlog change: Increased 10%
Since 1988, Forno Enterprises Inc. has been a driving force in the New York area for the glazing industry. The company takes pride in its customer service, achieving goals and providing superior products.

46. Palm Beach Glass Specialties Inc.
West Palm Beach, Fla.
www.pbglass.com
2012 annual sales: $3.6 Million
President/CEO: Jodie Kenney
Years in business: 25
Number of employees: 32
Number of locations: 2
Backlog change: Increased by 135%
Palm Beach Glass Specialties Inc. has been committed to providing quality glazing products for more than 25 years. It has completed major products in South Florida, including office buildings, shopping centers, hotels, sports facilities, hospitals and condominiums.

47. Glasstra Aluminum Inc.
Catano, Puerto Rico
www.glasstra.com
2012 annual sales: $3.2 million
President/CEO: Jose Manuel Trapote
Years in business: 35
Number of employees: 52
Number of locations: 2
Backlog change: Increased 10%
During the past 35 years, Glasstra has been involved in the manufacturing and installation of customized doors, windows and commercial curtainwalls of high quality aluminum and glass. The company has completed a variety of jobs in commercial malls, residential projects and office buildings, government institutions and airports throughout Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

One Year Later: A Contract Glazing Spotlight
What a difference a year can make. Last year Gamma Windows and Walls International ranked in at number 17 on the USGlass magazine list of the nation’s top contract glaziers. This year, with growth and 55 percent of its ownership acquired by Far East Global last year, it climbed to the number six position. That wasn’t the only acquisition in which it was involved; in 2012 Gamma acquired the assets of CBO Glass Inc. (which had ranked number seven on the list last year).

Today, Gamma, a curtainwall design, engineering and installation firm, has nine North American locations and 460 employees. Operational space totals about 425,000 square feet including a plant in Miami, which is its main headquarters, an additional 16,000 square feet in Buffalo, N.Y., and 100,000 square feet in Quebec City. Elliot Kracko serves as the chairperson and Jim Mitchell is the president of the Canadian operations. Kracko says becoming part of Far East has afforded Gamma a number of opportunities, including assistance in purchasing CBO, as well as increasing its bonding power.

Mitchell explains that Far East had done work on its own in North America and felt it should have a North American presence and people who knew how to do business in North America.

“They take a backseat and let us run the operations,” he says.

Kracko adds one factor that differentiates Far East is that it is the only Chinese curtainwall company invested in the United States.

“Others only have offices in the U.S.,” says Kracko. “If you buy curtainwall from a competitor you have to go through China. With Far East, we have all the key people right here.”

Speaking of the CBO acquisition, Mitchell clarifies that it was an asset purchase. “We basically took possession of the facility and equipment and rehired some key employees, which has been the hidden jewel,” he says. “You can buy great [equipment], but you need the right people to run it.”

Mitchell says they hired 10-15 senior people from CBO and all have worked well to get several major projects underway. In the Buffalo facility (where CBO had been headquartered) Mitchell says they now have about 100 people in the shop and about 25 in the office.

One detail that’s unique about the company’s operations, says Kracko, is its services are provided solely in house, affording the company the ability to be flexible.

Under One Roof
“No other curtainwall contractor has anything like that; we do it all in house,” says Kracko. “We design, engineer and fabricate everything in house; we do thermal and structural calculations. We also install all of our work and we don’t sub anything out.”

Mitchell explains that while having been acquired by Far East Global provides the company with global sourcing of products, the decision was made early on that, regardless of where the material is sourced, the design and engineering is handled in North America.

“When we’re in the process of a design assist [project] we’ve got three qualified engineering departments in North America,” says Mitchell, who adds that working closely with the owners they together decide how best to source the materials.

“Gamma is comfortable [providing] all North American materials,” says Mitchell. He points out, though, that some owners may be more price sensitive than others.In such instances they may choose to source off shore or provide a combination of domestic and imported materials. “Because Far East is based there they know who the good suppliers are and also who the not so good ones are.”

Historically, Kracko says highrise, re-cladding curtainwall jobs have been Gamma’s forte. Notable projects include the Trump International Hotel as well as the General Motors Building, both at Columbus Circle in New York. However, as Mitchell points out, the drastic downturn in the market these past few years has led Gamma to find work in what would be non-traditional places for the company.

“A lot more went into institutional/hospitals etc.,” says Mitchell. “To keep busy, we had to be nimble and re-focus to follow the work and the money.”

He adds, though, that the company pursues projects based on its manufacturing and engineering capabilities, which are driven by recourses more than anything.

“Our biggest bottleneck is in the design-engineering process,” says Mitchell, explaining they are continuing to build those employee resources, though it’s been challenging. “From a manufacturing standpoint, that’s not a problem; it’s within design and engineering and getting [it all] to the shop floors.”

Challenges and Growth
In that same regard, Mitchell and Kracko agree that finding and keeping good employees continues to be a challenge, particularly given that doing everything in-house requires a significant amount of personnel.

“All of our North American work is engineered here,” says Kracko. “It seems we find most contractors and owners are happy when we tell them that, but [engineering] is always the largest bottleneck. You have to feed the plant.”

Mitchell adds, “You have to protect your core people. It’s hard to find top-notch curtainwall design and engineering personnel so when you feel the market is coming back you have to reach out and grab those good people.”

Speaking of challenging market conditions, Mitchell adds that this continues to be an issue with which they struggle.

“If you get a flavor for the market coming back you have to get your design and engineering resources in early, even though you may still be 12-18 months in advance,” says Mitchell. “The problem is the competition has probably done the same thing.”

And a taste of the flavor of the market’s return is something Gamma is enjoying these days. According to company officials, they are enjoying a healthy backlog and a significant uptick in sales since the current management team came on board. In fact, Gamma has seven major new projects in the U.S and Canada including one at University of Montreal Hospital, which will be Canada’s second largest curtainwall contract in history.

There’s no special ingredient when it comes to securing this steady flow of work. Both Kracko and Mitchell say it’s just one little word: relationships.

“We are a relationship-oriented business,” says Mitchell. “We reach out and maintain a close network with architects, consultants, owners, etc. We’re being asked more to partner in early stages on design build projects.”

Mitchell says focusing on relationships has been a major part in helping the company grow, securing its place as a top player in the nation’s contract glazing industry. From acquisitions to expansions to future glazing projects, Gamma may just be one company to keep an eye on moving forward.
—Ellen Rogers

On the Bright Side: Contract Glaziers are Optimistic in 2013 About …
“More private work, which means less bureaucracy in the construction process.” —W&W Glass

“Continued recovery in the commercial market in North America.” —Gamma Windows & Walls International Inc.

“Continued growth in high rise residential; development of commercial buildings for high-tech industry campuses as well as judicial facilities.” —Architectural Glass & Aluminum

“Our backlog has profit, giving us time for the market to rebound.” —TSI Exterior Walls

“Rebound of the US Economy.” —Seele Inc.

“Rebound in the economy and banks lending again to owners.” —Champion Metal and Glass.

“Project availability and the opportunity to bid.” —R&R Window Contractors Inc.

“I am optimistic (hopeful) that companies have learned a lesson in taking too much work too cheap by the ‘gone-out-of-business’ list of glazing companies who did so.” —Juba Aluminum Products

“Positive signs for increased construction spending.” —Metropolitan Glass Inc.

“Higher profit by increased sales.” —Modern Mirror & Glass

“Expansion into other markets.” —Window Consultants Inc.

“Increased backlog and opportunity.” —ACE Glass Construction Corp.

“Increased volume.” —Palm Beach Glass Specialties

“2013 looks to be a great year! We have a tremendous backlog.” —Hale Glass Inc.

“Our employees’ ability to overcome the rising costs of doing business while remaining competitive and successful.” —Forno Enterprises

“We are optimistic that more customized construction projects will be developed here in Puerto Rico and give us the opportunity to grow and diversify our expertise.” —Glasstra Aluminum

“Everybody is optimistic so maybe this will be self-fulfilling.” —Koch Corp.

“Activity is increasing, optimism exists for tax reform and spending control in the federal government.” —Specified Systems Inc.

And On the Down Side … Contract Glaziers Worry About:
“Government intervention into private industry.” —W&W Glass

“Transition between government and private sector funding projects.” —Gamma Windows & Walls International Inc.

“Continued owner/developer disregard for the value regional resources bring to a project versus importing from countries with government subsidies; lack of regulation for human rights, employee working conditions, health and welfare, nor environmental controls.” —Architectural Glass & Aluminum.

“Manufacturer’s lead times with workloads.” —Massey’s Plate Glass & Aluminum Inc.

“Shortage of qualified labor in the U.S.” —Seele Inc.

“Resources and competitors.” —National Enclosure Co.

“Major spikes in raw materials.” —Cherry Hill Glass

“Not enough good trades people.” —Champion Metal and Glass.

“Profit margins.” —R&R Window Contractors Inc.

“I am concerned that with all the liabilities and responsibility exposures and associated costs that our industry will not band together and take a firm stand against unreasonable mark-ups for change orders in the subcontract agreements.” —Juba Aluminum Products.

“Continuing recovery.” —Egan Co./InterClad

“Self-inflicted wounds at the federal level causing the construction market to slow.” —LCG Facades

“Continued uncertainty in tax policy/politics.” —Metropolitan Glass Inc.

“Adequate staff.”—Paula Zeoli, president, Modern Mirror & Glass

“Continued recession.” —Window Consultants Inc.

“Economy will stall.” —Crawford Tracey Corp.

“Congress’ and the President’s inability to move forward together.” —Bacon & Van Buskirk

“Increased government regulation and global economic issues.” —ACE Glass Construction Corp.

“Obama’s policies.” —JMD Architectural Products.

“Product prices, low margins, competitors underbidding projects just to stay busy and ignoring their true costs.” —Key Glass

“Employees.” —Palm Beach Glass Specialties.

“Workers’ comp rates, lack of qualified glaziers.” —Hale Glass Inc.

“Inflation, rising energy costs, tax increases, healthcare increases, overall government interference.” —Forno Enterprises

“The financial process. We hope the banks will be in their best disposition for the construction industries.” —Glasstra Aluminum

“The glazing industry is still over-crowded. Bid values are still low.” —Koch Corp.

“2014.” —Denison Glass & Mirror

“Rising fuel costs and uncertainty affecting investment.” —Specified Systems Inc.

With CityCenterDC, TSI Takes Glass to New Heights
As the 10-acre, three-block mixed-use CityCenter development nears completion of phase one—the two office towers bordered by H and 11th Street—it seems construction must be going strong in Washington, D.C. Cranes surround the project for blocks and construction at this site is busy and in varying stages of completion. However, the towers’ glass installation team, TSI/Exterior Wall Systems Inc. of Upper Marlboro, Md., is quick to point out this project has been on-again, off-again and years in the making.

“Our first contact on this job was in 2008, and we signed a design-assist agreement in 2009. The project got put on hold twice for financing, etc. and was finally released in 2011. We started in 2012,” says Peter Cornellier, vice president of TSI.

Parcels 1 and 2, the office towers that today anchor what will be the combination of work, sleep and play space dreamed up by London-based architect Foster and Partners, are 12-story, glass-clad structures connected by a series of staggered glass walkways. It is these walkways that have made the project an on-going challenge for TSI since the design stage, and which will be a focal point of the complex upon completion.

The glass-enclosed walkways are installed at alternating levels on odd-numbered floors from the third through eleventh floors, with an open air walkway planned for the twelfth floor. It became evident early in the design stage that building these glass walkways in mid-air would not be an option. “We decided … to try to find a way to build the entire bridge on the ground and then lift it into place,” Cornellier says.

Cristacurva’s Guadalajara, Mexico, plant provided the glass, while TSI’s metal fabrication branch, TSI Architectural Metals Inc., did the steel work. The finished product meshes with the curtainwall products on the office towers fabricated by Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope®’s facility in Wright City, Mo., and metal from Baker Metals Inc. Designing those connections between the tower and walkway required extra care in the design phase. The concrete framework was notched out for the “slots” that were left open for the walkways and additional glass. “As you come across the slots that are notched out there’s where we put in our slot steel and that’s where we either put bridges or we clad it in curtainwall,” Cornellier explains.

However, he continues, “There was no structure [support for the walkway], so from the ground floor all the way up, you’ll see steel work that we did where we had to build structure inside of it and then we clad it in curtainwall. That was another design element that was difficult to design because we had to be able to make it so it could support windloads and everything else, but then we also had to put a curtainwall on it. Doing that, the tolerances were much tighter than normal steel tolerances because you don’t have as much flexibility on curtainwall as you might have on other things.”

Cornellier adds, “Mike Current led the design charge on that. The guys in the field did an unbelievable job; I think we were out no more than ¼-inch from top to bottom anywhere on the job.”

Once the towers were structurally ready to support the walkways, the glazing team got busy. Cornellier explains the process of creating each walkway: “We set a top and a bottom, it was assembled here in the field where we’ve got staging that holds it in place. We came out, fastened it, welded it, did what we need to do before the mechanical, electrical and plumbing trades came. They put all their work on it, then the fire safer came, did his work, then we went ahead and clad it, put the glass on it. Then we lift it up into place. It’s basically got two steel arms that come out of it on each side and they sit right in the saddle [on the tower] and then we bolt all the connections.

“All the engineering, all the design, is what made it unique so that we could build it on the ground and then lift it and put it in the place,” he concludes. If the process sounds simple, it’s because plenty of planning went into streamlining the procedure. However, new challenges came with the installation when it came time to fill the first 20-foot-wide gap with a 10-foot-wide walkway. A 500-ton crane (what Cornellier says is “the biggest crane we’ve ever used in our lives,”) swung each 45,000-pound walkway into place, neatly aligning the two pieces of steel sticking out of the walkway to their mate on the tower so that everything could be quickly welded in place.

The TSI team also had to design ways to pick up the bridge without damaging the glass. Current designed picking points that allowed the crane to pick up the walkway securely without touching the glass.

“Cranes and equipment were a tough part of this job too,” Cornellier says. “We had to work out shoring on the site, where [the crane] went, and what it was able to pick up. It can’t work in winds above 15 miles per hour so it’s shut down a lot, unfortunately.”

Because winter winds didn’t play along, it meant that TSI was right down to the finish line in getting the walkways installed by the February 17 cutoff for the crane. As the glazing contractor’s $40 million job gets closer to completion, new parts of the remaining condos, restaurants and shops are beginning to go up, causing Cornellier and his team to look forward. TSI will be providing glass work for what they affectionately call “the jewel box” but is more officially known as Gateway Media Arch. This bridge out of the underground parking area will incorporate glass in a vastly different format: screens will show looping scenes from movies shot of outdoor adventures. And, rumor has it, the planned hotel on the property will feature walls of scalloped glass in varying heights, a challenge to be sure, but one this glazing contractor wouldn’t mind setting out to solve.

To learn more about this project, look to the April USGNN™ newscast. —Megan Headley


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