Focus on Training: Innovative Solutions to Meet Market Demand

By Sara Schuttloffel

The Los Angeles basin has hundreds of mid- to high-rise buildings under construction or planned for the next five years. Iron Workers (IW) partner contractor CK2 Contracting Inc. in Downers Grove, Ill., is partnering with IW locals in Chicago and Los Angeles to capture the largely untapped window wall market in Southern California. CK2 specializes in window wall system installation and is working in concert with Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope® to meet the demand in California.

While the IW and partner contractors represent a significant share of the curtainwall market, they only account for roughly 3 percent of the window wall market in California. With the help of professional, well-trained iron-workers, the expertise of CK2 in window wall systems and an innovative strategy, the IW hopes to reclaim the market share in California.


Ray Dean, IW executive director of architectural, ornamental and miscellaneous metals, convened an all-star team of experts to plan and implement an innovative initiative to capture the largely untapped market in California. The team of experts included Donald Zampa, president, District Council of the State of California and Vicinity; David Osborne, IW District Council representative/organizer; Paul Wende, business agent from Local 63 (Chicago); and Michael Silvey, business manager of Local 433 (Los Angeles).

In partnership with CK2, six to eight ironworker foremen and journeymen from Local 433 in Los Angeles will travel to Chicago to be trained in window wall systems at Local 63. The iron-workers will be trained a few months ahead of the project start date once the CK2 representatives in the satellite office in California win work. The comprehensive training will consist of hands-on field work during the day, and night classes at the Local 63 training facility with mock-ups. The majority of the training will take place on site to allow CK2 to mentor and provide on-the-job training for the ironworkers from Los Angeles. Upon completion of their six- to eight-week training, the ironworkers will return to Los Angeles. They will train more ironworkers in California to regain market share.


The IW locals in California are committed to working with Local 63 and CK2 to provide continuing classroom and hands-on training.

“Local 63 is happy to be a part of this initiative and train our ironworkers from California to capture the high demand in the market,” says Wende. “When we help our locals in any area regain market share, it has a ripple effect and we all benefit from it at the end of the day.”

Osborne will continue to connect CK2 with the needs of developers and general contractors in Southern California.

“We are grateful to be working with the IW locals 63 and 433 in this process,” said Vincent Rossi, co-founder and chief financial officer of CK2 Contracting Inc. “It’s an exciting time to be an IW Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) contractor and we look forward to another 20 years of company growth. We are thankful for all the diligent work in this team endeavor by the IW and IMPACT and Bob Geibert at Oldcastle BuildingEnve-lope® in Wausau, Wis.”

IMPACT, the IW employer-iron-worker partnership, will cover the cost of sending ironworkers from Los Angeles to Chicago for training. IMPACT regional director Zachary Gorman helped organize and streamline the training process in Chicago.

“When you have the knowledge and experience of Ray Dean, the proficiency and successful history of CK2, combined efforts and cooperation of David Osborne, Paul Wende, Michael Silvey, Zach Gorman and a truly progressive partnership like IMPACT, you can turn a problem into an opportunity,” said Zampa.

The IW hopes to grow the contractor base for window wall systems in California soon. “This option is open to any of our partner contractors specializing in window wall systems if they want to establish business in California,” said Osborne. “It is a collaborative effort and seems to be a very successful model. I don’t see a reason not to apply it to other sectors, areas of expertise and contractors in the future.”

The IW hopes that the success of the initiative will be duplicated in other areas and sectors.

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