Issue At Hand

All About It

By Debra A. Levy

With the economy as robust as it is now, it was hard to fit everything into the two-day Building Envelope Contractors (BEC) Conference held in Las Vegas earlier this month. Everyone was starved for enough time to fit in both the sessions and the networking opportunities. Still, it was nice to hear things such as the pronouncement by W&W’s Jeff Haber that the amount of glass work has doubled in the past five years. Here are my top five takeaways:

1.It’s all about making connections—not the connections among people, but the points on a project where different materials connect. “It’s all about the joint,” said Joe Conover of Clark Construction, a participant in the State of the Industry: Challenges, Trends and Market Perspectives panel. “That’s what worries us. Everyone does a great job with their system, but nobody wants the joint.” “Every issue depends on what you are connecting to,” added Curtis Nordin of W&W Glass, a panelist in the MacGyver It: Field Fixes for Curtainwall session.The point where two trades collide is also a cause for concern. “I worry about the point where your work meets another contractor’s work. That’s a pain point,” said SOM’s Keith Boswell, another panelist in the State of the Industry: Challenges, Trends and Market Perspectives session.

2.It’s all about sharing—design-build and design-assist projects are driving an increased willingness by architects to share information at a rate they never had before. “We have recognized we need to provide more in order for con-tractors to work efficiently,” said architect Boswell. Likewise, though, the architectural community expects reciprocity from contract glaziers. “We do take a project and ask for comment,” said Boswell. (Note: also known as comment without pay, as one glazier put it, or comment with profit, said another.) “We ask three or four companies to take a look and every now and then one will say ‘well, I would do it this way,’ and the project gets stronger. That glazing contractor was responsive and he ends up with a multi-million dollar project,” added Boswell.

3.It’s all about technology—from artificial intelligence programs, to the use of drones that fly up and grab a photo of a multi-story building, technology continues to both advance and challenge glazing contractors. “We are looking for ways that technology can drive efficiency,” said Jeff Heymann of Benson Indus-tries, a panelist in the State of the Industry session.

4.It’s all about water—and water is not a contract glazier’s friend. Time and again, in every technical seminar, understanding the water-glazing dichotomy was a key issue. “When there’s a water problem, the first question I ask is ‘where is it appearing?’’’ said Anthony Santocono of Kawneer Company during the MacGyver session. He then proceeded to name a half dozen places that water might be coming from and the probable (99 percent of the time) cause. Water was also a main conversation piece during the ABCs of Successful Curtainwall Mock-ups: What to Achieve? Why? How? which focused on field testing and mock-ups.

5.It’s all about practicality—practical advice and hints poured from presenters throughout the conference. My two favorites came from Jack Jackson of CCL West in The ABCs of Successful Curtainwall. “Don’t even stand behind the engine in a wind test,” he joked with the crowd, then offered some serious advice. “We do a lot of curtainwall testing. And [companies] will fly 10, 15 people in to watch it. Sometimes, it fails right away, in the first few minutes. Then we have all these people who flew in standing around and it’s over, it’s done. Don’t send all those people. Just send one or two.”

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