• The BEC and GANA conferences are fast approaching (2/21 – 2/23 and 3/1 – 3/5, respectively). Two issues affecting glazing subcontractors are going to be discussed at length during the BEC Technical Committee Sunday afternoon. If you’re a glazing subcontractor and there’s any way you can be in Vegas early enough to attend, we’d love to have your input. The issues: converting the Blue Print Reading Estimating Course to an online offering, and how to implement what is now being referred to as a “Glazing Education Program” focusing on training new people coming into the glazing business.

    First, the Blueprint Reading and Estimating Course (which is getting a name change to Glass and Glazing Estimating Essentials) has been updated, and during reviews it was suggested that the manual be upgraded to an online learning tool instead of today’s hard-copy course. Doing it more interactively over the web makes perfect sense. Instantaneous grading on questions at the end of lessons is much more efficient than the current, “complete and submit the answer sheet before you get a grade” method. It seems like it’s a no-brainer to make these changes.

    But like all good upgrades, it comes with a cost (a quite substantial one), which is not currently budgeted within GANA. That’s what BEC has to discuss before presenting GANA with the proposal to go ahead with the modification or not. Any comments from people who have used the manual and would like to weigh in on that, please send me your thoughts.

    The other issue that’s coming more into focus is certification for glaziers, either as a company or individual basis. For companies, the “North American Contractor Certification Program for Architectural Glass and Metal Contractors (NACC) has been created with input and guidance from glazing and construction industry experts. It is intended to provide certification recognition as a means of creating a baseline for competency, business practices, and adherence to industry-accepted guidelines for glazing contractors participating in the program.”

    NACC also does certification for WDMA and IGMA member manufacturers, and some others. They’re looking at the glazing industry to establish baselines for financial stability, safety practices, reputation for quality, contract compliance and others.

    On a personal level, AAMA has recently established a “FenestrationMasters™” program, which “offers professional certification and education that covers the full breadth of the fenestration industry, including performance standards, products and materials, test methods and code requirements.” The online program is intended for the framing side of the fenestration industry, looking at codes, metal finishes, etc.

    And, GANA is endeavoring to establish an education program of its own for the glazing in windows and curtain walls. The plan is to include a review of existing GANA materials, such as the Glazing, Sealant, and Project Manager Manuals, and to include current GIBs and tribal knowledge – essentially, a way to disseminate information to the industry’s newcomers.  It’s conceivable the Glazing Estimating Essentials will be part of that program, as well.  The exact curriculum and course materials have yet to be established, so now’s a perfect time to add your thoughts regarding the course’s form and topics.

    If there’s a need within your company for these types of programs, we need to hear from you. Getting new people into the industry is always going to be one of many challenges any organization faces. How those people are trained, and how these GANA programs can make that a bit easier, we would like to hear from the end users if such undertakings are worth the effort. Please make your thoughts known. It is your industry; it’s how we all have chosen to make a living, but it’s also a chance to have an influence on how the industry heads into the future.

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  • Field Notes 14.01.2016 1 Comment

    Is there anything more hectic than the first couple of weeks after the year-end holidays? It’s like everyone saved everything they wanted to get moving until after the first of the year. But, such a problem is nice; I’m not complaining, mind you, just stating the facts, please, and thank you. As we get into the new year, there are a lot of things happening, some of which we don’t know how will turn out just yet. Three older stories from last year and three newer stories are holding my interest.

    A condominium association filed suit against the high profile architect who designed the novel curtainwall on its relatively new building, claiming that “they can feel drafts off the Hudson River through the glass façade.” Like the Harmon in Vegas, I’m interested to see how this one turns out. After all, aren’t mockups, in-house quality control, and jobsite testing supposed to resolve these things long before the job finishes? How does something like this happen on a relatively new building?

    I saw something last week about the feds fining a company for concealing the source of their material. They had been buying material overseas, and deliberately falsified packaging, invoices, etc. They even went so far as asking (coercing?) their employees to back up the stories. What’s a little crazy is how they got caught. One of those employees (who is now an ex-employee) turned them in to the feds, and will get a nice bonus check through the whistleblower laws courtesy of their ex-employer. While they claimed their out-of-US content to be a relatively small percentage of the overall projects, the fine was substantial. Was that so there was a lesson for others?

    That reminded me of an airline mechanic who turned in their employer after a flight crashed, which led to the finding that the airline’s maintenance procedures were the root cause of the accident. It’s admirable, the mechanic doing the honorable thing. The outcome was that the whistleblower, a good mechanic and not connected directly to the accident was never able to get a job in the airline industry again. Who would hire someone who had a reputation of tattling on the employer about the manner in which the company conducted its affairs? Would you hire that person? A dilemma, no doubt.

    Growing up, my grandfather worked for DuPont, so the paint and anything else in his workroom that could be had to have “DuPont stomped on it” (old family story, some other time) and so I’m somewhat interested in following the Dow and DuPont merger. Apparently, there has to be a merger before spin-off of some businesses can occur. What impact that may have on our friends at Dow Corning remains to be seen. Hopefully, it’ll be as inconsequential as the Momentive split from GE appears to have been several years ago.

    I saw a list over the weekend, before the NFL games started, about the easiest teams to cheer for or against (of the then remaining 12 NFL teams). While New England is a no-brainer (a favorite no doubt in and around Boston, but not anywhere else) one argument the writer made for not cheering for the Chiefs was: “wasn’t winning the World Series enough for one year?” The answer was no, not around these parts. If you’ll recall, there was a Monday night football game in 2014 in Kansas City, in which the Chiefs tore up the Patriots  – I think the final was 38-14, so it wasn’t that close. No one remembers the game much, because the next night the baseball playoffs started and the Royals went on an 8-0 tear before dropping the World Series to the Giants. There’s a guy in the office from NE who won’t give me the points. He’s scared, or so he says. Yeah, right!

    And talk about lucky? This is the second playoff game the Seahawks have won in recent memory when the opposition lined up to kick a game winning field goal. Anybody remember Tony Romo botching the hold in Seattle in 2006, thus clutching defeat from the jaws of victory for the “beloved” Cowboys (another team everybody, including me, loves to hate). If Seattle is ahead late, and the Panthers line up for a field goal, don’t turn away.

    Meanwhile, I know you’re reading this Thursday. I’m seriously considering calling everyone I know to see if there’s any way to scrounge up $586 million before Wednesday’s Powerball. We can split the winnings after first paying back the loan. If the odds are 1:293 million, we can buy one ticket of every possible combination. Would crowdfunding work? Probably not – not enough time. Contributing $1,000 only results in a 0.000003425 percent of the winnings, approximately $4,452 before taxes, before the handling fees (10 percent?). But in case you don’t hear from me again, you’ll know I won! It would be my luck there will be three different winning tickets out there this time. If you happen to be buying tickets: May the Force NOT be with you, and the odds be NEVER in your favor!

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  • Dear Santa,

    Overall, 2015 has been pretty good to the glass industry. All of us are busy, wishing we could find a calendar that would allow us to sneak a couple extra days into every week, or smoosh another week into every month. It seems, all of a sudden the pent up backlog from the downturn years was cut loose in the marketplace, and everybody’s scrambling to get their material delivered per schedule. Such a problem, right? It is a blessing, no doubt. If you have anything to suggest how we can stretch these good times out a bit, it would be most welcome.

    Most of us have our heads down, focusing on the work we currently have, and trying to figure how to take on more without overburdening ourselves. Finding people to fill positions, whether in the office or in the field, is still going to be a challenge in the coming year. Attracting newcomers is one possibility, but that involves training them fast.

    Big plans turned into actuality in some cases this year. The Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope(R) purchase of CR Lawrence, well, it doesn’t get much larger in terms of scope and impact. And, it was laudable that the owner of CR Lawrence cut the team in on the deal with bonus checks. Recognizing employee contributions in any organization, big or small, boosts morale. It’s certainly true in my experience.

    Some big plans are still in the developmental stages. One of the big fabricators recently announced they’re going to start booking orders for very large glass lites for delivery into 2017. It will be interesting to see if the new larger sizes start showing up more in designs and if glaziers will take on such large lites. Some fabricators already have this capability, and some glaziers have been known to take on the work of installing these bad boys.

    At the beginning of the year, one of the speakers at BEC said there’s a growth market in rehab / remodel / updating the walls on existing buildings – in other words, projects built back when some of us were first getting into the biz. It remains to be seen if developers and building owners will be willing to spend the bucks to do that, but there’s a large market out there. A joint effort between a supplier and glass fabricator discussed at the BEC Fall Conference showed how out-of-the-box thinking can reduce the cost impacts associated with typical remodels or upgrades, and reduce the need to disrupt the existing tenants.

    Energy, energy, energy seems to be around every corner.  Building envelope commissioning is still lurking out there, but I’m not sure it’s gaining any momentum, so its impact to the biz is TBD. NFRC is retooling, and how that will impact the biz is still settling out. But, the dynamic and photochromatic glazing folks seem to be gaining some traction, showing up on more projects recently. Photovoltaics haven’t made that much of an inroad into the glazing world, but there’s a lot of roof installations these days. One fabricator covered their fab facility roof with them, and expects huge returns. That may be a more realistic and efficient design strategy than trying to put them on buildings’ walls.

    With this recap, Santa, the only thing I ask of you is good health to our industry stalwarts dealing with illness. Although any report of someone fighting an illness is one too many, their fortitude and example in riding these things out inspires the rest of us. Every so often, we lose some of them, and that’s always hard to bear. Peace and blessings to all and their families, please, going forward.

    PS:  Santa: My wife and I will be making candy cane cookies with the grandkids this weekend. If I leave some out Christmas Eve, will that be enough of an enticement if I haven’t fully been good this year?

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