Glass Expo Rocky Mountain™ ’23 has arrived in Denver (Aurora), Colo., where it’s underway at the Hyatt Regency Aurora-Denver Conference Center. Co-sponsored by the Colorado Glazing Contractors Association (CGCA), USGlass magazine and USGNN™, the event features learning and networking opportunities that connect industry peers and professionals and a trade show filled with new products and services.

Glass Expo Rocky Mountain ’23 is underway with educational seminars that tackle everything from jumbo glass installation to liability issues in shop drawings, and more.

Rocky Mountain Economic Update

During today’s educational sessions, Nick St. Denis, director of research for Key Media & Research (KMR), USGlass parent company, provided an economic update on the Rocky Mountain region. He explained that the U.S. nonresidential building construction outlook for 2023 includes another increase of 6% after a 16% spike in 2022. While the volume of activity may be slowing down, improved pricing should help lift the spending numbers.

The biggest sector-specific jump in 2023 construction spending, said St. Denis, will be hotel projects, which are expected to increase by nearly 10%. He added that retail projects are leveling out after years of decline due to the e-commerce boom.

Regarding nonresidential construction in Colorado, St. Denis said that the sector is projected to decline by less than 4% in 2023 after a series of positive years. However, he noted several more broad economic indicators remain optimistic. He adds that the institutional building sector remains strong, especially in healthcare and universities.

Working with Large-Sized Glass

The sessions also include a panel discussion about working with jumbo-sized glass. The panel included Sofia Bower, director of operations and owner at SPH Global; Debra Levy, CEO of Key Media & Research (KMR) and publisher of USGlass magazine; Chip Olson, national sales manager of Quattrolifts USA; and Connor O’Neill, architectural sales representative for Viracon

According to O’Neill,  some contract glaziers shy away from jumbo glass due to an inability to handle, store and move it. He said the first step a company interested in large glass projects needs to do is ask, “Do I have my whole team’s support?”

Olson agreed, adding that contract glaziers need to have a plan to move to the glass.

Levy said that most companies will do a dry run before installation. This includes obtaining the right equipment, practicing when the installation is to take place, figuring out where to park, understanding how the glass will be installed, and other crucial steps.

“The most successful projects include a lot of planning with everyone,” added O’Neill.

The largest misconception about working with large glass is that it is new and complicated, said Olson. Despite that, there is a market waiting to be tapped. He added that the most significant logistical challenge is getting the lites to the jobsite, but if companies have the proper tools, such as lifting equipment, the job can be done easily.

“If you can give your manpower the right tools, they will be happy when they show up,” he said.

Understanding the Liability Issues in Shop Drawings

What happens when you make a mistake with your shop drawings? According to Marcus Dreher, owner of MP Drafting & Design and co-owner of LearnGlazing.com, contract glaziers will always be the ones holding the bag if a mistake exists in the shop drawing. This leaves it up to them to find out what happened and what can be done to solve it.

Glass Expo Rocky Mountain 23 got underway today; the event features learning and networking opportunities connecting industry peers and professionals, and offers a trade show for new products and services.

Mistakes can come from various parties, so it’s important to implement a plan to avoid and remedy them when they happen. Dreher said communication is critical. It is important to understand the relationship between a glazing contractor and its shop drawing subcontractor. That’s because mistakes need to be caught before relationships are ruined.

He said the optimal process includes:

  • A well-written agreement with the drafting firm that lays out expectations for responsibilities during the shop drawing process;
  • A discussion about the job before drafting to search for areas of concern;
  • Communicating discrepancies, questions and issues to the general contractor; and
  • Ensuring that your shop and the drafting firm review the shop drawings before they are submitted to the installers.

Glass Expo Rocky Mountain™ ′23 runs until Friday, Jan. 20, 2023. Stay tuned to USGNN™ for more coverage from the trade show floor and beyond. Those at the show can visit USGlass in booth 507.