USGlass Magazine’s 2021 Most Influential People

Change, though not always right, is always necessary. And as the late Steve Jobs once said, it’s the “crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes” that will drive the change needed to change the world.

But for now, let’s start with change on a smaller scale: the architectural glazing industry.

Developments in technology and innovation, complex, high-performance facades and global, environmental awareness are just some of the things driving the need to change. The 2021 listing of USGlass magazine’s Most Influential People recognizes some of those individuals who have been influential in driving these changes. They are leaders, thinkers and visionaries. Sometimes they have failed, messed up, made mistakes, learned from them and improved.

These individuals were nominated by their peers in the glass and glazing industry and selected by our editorial team. They generously took the time to offer insight into their challenges and obstacles, what motivates and challenges them and those who have inspired and influenced them. We hope you will be as inspired by them as we are.

If you would like to nominate someone for consideration on a future list, please email Ellen Rogers at erogers@glass.com.

Staying Nimble
Attila Arian
President, Schüco USA
Years in the industry: 13

What is the biggest concern you have or obstacle you face?

Many general contractors and developers have gotten into the habit of opening the bidding process for their projects up to international fabricators, who often lack the necessary U.S. expertise to ensure that their fabricated product meets U.S. codes, standards and specific installation means and methods. Controlling the flow of fabricated material from abroad, ensuring that the products are built to U.S. standards and are designed and delivered in a condition that’s conducive to the standard practices in the field, while being competitively priced, is a big challenge.

Who are your biggest influences and role models?

I admire and follow Elon Musk as a visionary entrepreneur and Reed Hastings, the co-founder and CEO of Netflix, as the master builder of high-performance teams and organizations.

What would people be surprised to know about you? Despite my degree in mechanical engineering, I started my carrier in general contracting. About 13 years ago, I made a very conscious choice to join the glazing industry, went back to college at the age of 44 and studied building envelopes.

Name something you’re proud of.

While I enjoy working on challenging projects and I certainly feel a sense of pride looking at reference projects, I do not consider them my own accomplishments. It’s the labor of teams that I was blessed to work with and have had the privilege of leading. I do pride myself, however, on having built powerful teams that were able to build challenging projects in collaboration with one another. Attracting, recruiting and retaining talent and providing a work environment in which they strive through collaboration is what I see as my humble contribution to my organization and the industry as whole.

They say you learn the most from your mistakes. What mistake did you learn the most from?

As a company that’s active in 75 countries throughout the world, we have been falling prey to the naïve assumption that  what works elsewhere in the world will also work in the U.S.” We came here with the goal of implementing our traditional business model of a European wholesale system supplier, and it took several years for us to realize that the market appreciates our product, but not our business model. It took a major effort to transform our organization to meet the market demand.

What is one thing you wish the glass industry would learn?

It is very obvious and visible that the converging of technologies such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality, robotic and block chain is about to dramatically change the world in which we live. But in the glazing industry, the majority of companies are living by the principle of “we have always done it this way” and refuse to change or adopt new and modern technology.

Design Visionaries
Adrian Betanzos
Senior Design Manager, Cupertino,
Calif.-based tech company
Years in the industry: 20

What is the biggest concern you have or obstacle you face?

The lack of commitment and/or willingness from many companies to do better and to achieve better quality. Many of them can and already do better, but they don’t want to commit to it. Teams do not want to take calculated risks. Teams want to stay in the comfortable zone of merely achieving what is written on the local codes or norms. We have industry standards that were written before I started working in this industry, yet the industry, the people, the machinery, the materials, have evolved significantly. We need the industry standards to evolve, to improve and to inspire the industry to be better. We need the industry players to embrace change.

Who are your biggest influences and role models?

I have had the blessing of working with a bunch of great people around the world who have inspired and shaped my way of working and thinking. One of them, without a doubt, has been Mic Patterson.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

That I started my first job as a glass salesperson because I really had no other option; I was unemployed. Then, I tried to get away from glass, but got my second job at a big glazing company; because I was unemployed and had no other option. I tried getting away from that again, but the more I tried, the more I got sucked into it. I was lucky!

What’s something you’re proud of?

Working for Engineers Without Borders in New York City. We partnered with a community in El Salvador where its inhabitants were constantly sick as they didn’t have basic health infrastructure. The teams of volunteers I was with worked tirelessly to provide basic hygiene with proper latrines and potable water. The ties with the community continue as of today. As a Mexican, I would also love for more Hispanic younger generations to get involved in our trade and aspire for better [futures].

They say you learn the most from your mistakes. What mistake did you learn the most from?

I have made a lot of mistakes over the years—from selecting or specifying the wrong material, to hiring the wrong people, to not firing the right people, and many more in between. The only way to not make mistakes is to do nothing, and that by itself might be a mistake.

What is one thing you wish the glass industry would learn?

That the more we teach at schools, colleges and universities about glass and glazing, the better we will all be, the better the planet will be. It is one of the things that’s rarely taught, yet there is rarely a building without a piece of glass. We need to invest more into sharing our knowledge to the new generations, and we must keep on learning from the new generations.

Joshua Ramus
Founding Principal, REX
Years in the industry: 25

What is the biggest concern you have or obstacle you face?

Running a company simultaneous to (hopefully) pushing ambitious design.

Who are your biggest influences and role models?

Artists who have mastered the beauty of precision: Vermeer, Cummings, Mies, Bowie…

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I was my daughter’s primary caregiver through much of my career.

Name something you’re proud of: The first “marble-glass” façade panels of The Ronald O. Perelman Performing Arts Center at the World Trade Center. Few outside our industry will appreciate the complexities of laminating 12-mm slabs of marble into the outer layer of 4,896 5- x 3-foot insulating glass units … or the difficulty of composing them into four identical, book-matched façades parallel to their fabrication.

They say you learn the most from your mistakes. What mistake did you learn the most from?

The expression “stone is a natural material” is not hyperbole. It teaches one to productively lose control. What’s one thing you wish the glass industry would learn? How to standardize the colors of silicone gaskets, structural silicone, weather sealants, and ceramic border frits.

Quest for Quality
Jeff Dalaba
Program Development Director, AMS Inc.
Years in the industry: 11

What is the biggest concern you have or obstacle you face?

Managing an ever-evolving landscape of contractor and stakeholder needs, then  implementing strategies to make sure that the certification programs and benefit messages are properly delivered to raise the bar of quality for glazing and building envelope construction.

Who are your biggest influences and role models?

I was brought into the industry by my friend John Kent on a small, short-term management consulting project that grew and evolved. I have learned much about the industry from John over the last 11 years and I am grateful. Along the way, we added Ben Beeler and Terry Schaefer to the initiative. Ben has been my rock in expanding my technical knowledge and Terry has increased my understanding of quality systems significantly. The list could go on to everyone who has helped, from our stakeholders, steering committees, and AGMCC board, but it would fill the entire page. I must add that my home support network has always been fantastic; my wife, Dawn, is and always will be my role model for organizing and multitasking.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I started my professional life as reactor operator on a U.S. Navy fast attack submarine back in the 1980s. I spent a lot of time in the North Seas and under the polar ice cap. This experience was a fast-track to learning critical thinking and planning as well as how to have a good relationship with everyone around you. I think those days surrounded by gray walls makes me appreciate the glass around us every day even more.

What’s something you’re proud of?

I’m proudest of the two adult children my wife and I raised. From a professional standpoint, the current NACC program that we have built from the ground up has been extremely rewarding. They say you learn the most from your mistakes.

What mistake did you learn the most from?

I have been told that I do not have the ability to say no. I have learned it is okay to slow down and focus on quality over  quantity and, above all, to manage expectations.

What is one thing you wish the glass industry would learn?

I wish the industry could fi nd more paths to allow sharing of ideas and additional accessible platforms to discuss industry strategy and direction with peers.

Focused Approach
Eric Dean
General President, International Association of Bridge Structural
Ornamental and Reinforcing Ironworkers
Years in the industry: 40+

What is the biggest concern you have or obstacle you face?

Continuing to supply the industry with skilled and qualified workers.

Who are your biggest influences and role models?

My father, who shaped me; Ray Robertson, our national apprenticeship director who gave me the passion to train; and Roy Williams, who was a labor relations icon.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I love spending time with my grandchildren.

What’s something you’re proud of?

Becoming general president of our union and working closely with our signatory contractors; becoming chair of our National Training Fund; and developing programs to further our industry.

They say you learn the most from your mistakes. What mistake did you learn the most from?

I need more patience. Sometimes it’s best to reexamine short-term plans and correct the course.

What is one thing you wish the glass industry would learn?

Cheaper is not always best.

Working for the Birds
Marc Deschamps
Director of Products and
Business Development
Walker Glass Company Ltd.
Years in the industry: 29

Danik Dancause
Marketing Operations Manager
Walker Glass Company Ltd.
Years in the industry: 19

What is the biggest concern/obstacle you face?

DD: Since the beginning of the pandemic we’ve been physically distanced from business partners, clients, and the architectural community. A year and half into isolation, many people are tired of digital meetings.

MD: Staying connected with the market, our customers and business partners and people. Communication through digital platforms is good, but nothing comes close to face-to-face interaction.

Who are your biggest influences/role models?

DD: At work, Ross Christie, Marc Deschamps and Charles Alexander. All of them display focus, determination, and a solid dedication to Walker. On the personal side, I’m a long-standing fan of the Hall of Fame Canadian power trio Rush. The same three guys stayed together for over 40 years without any bandmate changes. They had a long career and were recognized for their hard work, creativity, kindness and (again) their focus: characteristics that I try to emulate.

MD: My late mother was a life model for me. Her resilience, strength and positive attitude traits drove how I have lived my personal and business life.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

DD: I’ve participated in dog shows for many years; just like Westminster in New York City. I am one of those people who run around a ring to get a ribbon. Lately, my focus has somewhat switched to fly fishing, and I am an active member of my local fly-fishing club as an instructor, teaching beginners the fundamentals of fly casting. And lately, with a fishing partner of mine, I’ve been developing a short movie for a local fly-fishing film festival, and look forward to applying this newly acquired knowledge of “filmmaking” to my work at Walker.

MD: Not a lot people know that I am an accountant by trade …. A bean counter as some people would say! In general, people don’t expect an accountant to get into sales, marketing and product development.

What’s something you’re proud of?

DD: Earlier this year, the Walker team created a series of e-books to help architects working on projects that call for bird friendly glass. We call these books the AviProtek® e-books of bird friendly glass. Each one is regionally adapted, which provides true practical value for the architect who’s using it. On the architectural side, there is one project that’s especially close to my heart: the annex of the Maurice Richard arena in Montreal. Not only
is it really beautiful, but it’s also close by the office. In this project the architects were aiming for the look of acid-etched mirror. They achieved it by combining various glass substrates and treatments, including our Satinlite etch on surface 1. What made this project special? Of course, there’s the site’s location, and the fact that the arena is named after one of the Montreal Canadiens’ most famous hockey players. But it was also the collaboration between all parties: architect, glass fabricator, and supplier, in this case Walker Glass.

MD: I had a lot of fun successfully transitioning from accounting to sales and marketing. On the personal side, I coached for several years in little league baseball and soccer and it taught me a lot about sports, team competition and the younger generation.

They say you learn the most from your mistakes. What mistake did you learn the most from?

MD: When I was younger, I had an impulsive character and made mistakes by acting too quickly … jumping the gun as we say. I’ve learned over the years to slow down and better reflect on things before making decisions.

What is one thing you wish the glass industry would learn?

MD: People in the business are more creative than ever. Let’s learn to be more open to new solutions and new products that will meet the needs of a world that’s in constant evolution and will continue to be more so than ever.

Cool Thinking
Liz Haggerty
President, Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope®
Years in the industry: 2

What is the biggest concern you have or obstacle you face?

Connecting with my team and customers while meeting my other commitments. I truly believe that our people are our greatest assets and if we inspire and engage them everything else takes care of itself. This has always been a challenge, but COVID has made it even harder. It’s more important than ever to find a way to connect with people.

Who are your biggest influences and role models?

My father because of his ability to connect with people. He was someone who never met a stranger and was able to have a conversation with anyone. This has been very important to me as I’ve developed my leadership style – creating connections is critical to leading an organization.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I am a metallurgical engineer by training, and I hold a patent. While I don’t do pure engineering any more it has framed how I think and solve problems.

What’s something you’re proud of?

Throughout my career, I’ve worked in male-dominated industries. I’ve made it my passion to bring in more women into these industries. I’m particularly proud of my work with the Society of Women Engineers chapter at the University of Oklahoma. I led the sponsorship activities that created a mechanism for members to be introduced to and learn more about the career path and internship programs at my previous company, Johnson Controls. Another project that’s near and dear to me is one I launched in 2018, the Coolest Women in HVAC business summit, an event geared towards women from across the HVAC industry. I see many opportunities to do something similar in building products.

They say you learn the most from your mistakes. What mistake did you learn the most from?

A key learning for me was that one size does not fit all. You have to do the research with customers and really understand customer needs and differences. Sometimes in an effort to simplify business structures or product portfolios, we make assumptions on what is needed in the market versus what is wanted. Always do the work and get the data.

What is one thing you wish the glass industry would learn?

Sustainability and our response to it is going to be critical for the future. It will be imperative to work across our industry to find a path as we cannot solve this in individual segments of the value chain.

From the Ground Up
Michael Kneeland
Regional CEO, North America, Permasteelisa North America
Years in the industry: 32

What is the biggest concern you have or obstacle you face?

Every year brings different obstacles. Recently, COVID and the roller coaster economy are big challenges to our industry.

Who are your biggest influences and role models?

I have had many. Superintendents, production managers, general managers and vendor relationships have had the biggest influence on me. My family has provided incredible support to me and to my career. What would people be surprised to know about you? Family first. Time with your kids goes by too quickly and you must enjoy every minute with them.

What’s something you’re proud of?

My first project in Minneapolis, First Bank Place (now Capella Tower), was the most memorable. I was able to learn the business from an engineering, production and field point of view.

They say you learn the most from your mistakes. What mistake did you learn the most from?

Have immediate conversations with the team and be transparent on the issues to help rectify the problems. Also, don’t take the industry personally. It’s glass and aluminum and that’s all it will ever be. What is one thing you wish the glass industry would learn? Make the industry fun again. There are reasons why people like me stick around.

Primary Thinkers
Ricardo Maiz
President, Vitro Architectural Glass
Years in the industry: 19

What is the biggest concern you have or obstacle you face?

Currently, Vitro Architectural Glass is facing several challenges that are impacting the entire glass industry: supply chain disruptions, labor availability and general inflation.

Who are your biggest influences and role models?

Having spent virtually my entire 21-year career at Vitro, I’ve had many mentors from whom I’ve learned much about both the glass industry, from my first boss Gerardo Esquer to my current boss Adrian Sada. I also am greatly inspired by my wife, who sees the best attributes in everyone she meets and never wastes time with unconstructive criticism. Lastly, before my career with Vitro, I had the chance to live and work in a church and teach high school students for a year and a half as a full-time teacher. Many of those priests and the people who have dedicated their lives to the education of others have my most profound admiration.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I am not as serious as I often appear. I am generally more reserved and keep an even keel, and because I’m a bit of an introvert, some seem to think I am very serious all the time. However, I am quite easy-going and friendly.

What’s something you’re proud of?

I’m especially proud of the transformation of Vitro. As part of its leadership team, I was on hand to help the company emerge from some of its challenges, strategize to create long-term viability by selling its founding Food and Beverage Glass Containers business segment, and broker the purchase of the PPG Flat Glass business..

They say you learn the most from your mistakes. What mistake did you learn the most from?

When I first arrived in Pittsburgh, I did not understand some of the practices our U.S. operations had in place. I failed to recognize the reasons behind those practices, instead trying to compare everything with how we used to do things in Mexico. I’ve since learned to recognize the strength in our entire organization and purposefully learn from every facility and region.

The one thing I wish the glass industry would learn is: Personally, I find that at times our industry forgets to recognize and place appropriate value on our craft, which is one that requires a precise balance of engineering, skilled manufacturing and artful design.

Stephen (Steve) Weidner
Head of the Architectural Glass North America and Solar Products Groups, NSG Group
Years in the industry: 41+

What is the biggest concern you have or obstacle you face?

The health and safety of our employees remain my highest priority.

Who are your biggest influences and role models?

My business mentors who showed confidence in me and gave me the projects and support to allow me to grow my skills. Also, my parents for the values they instilled in me and my wife for her compassion and kindness.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I am a closet tree hugger. I firmly believe that industry must be good stewards for the communities in which we operate and the planet in general.

What’s something you’re proud of?

I was fortunate to get involved with the solar industry 20+ years ago and have marshaled our efforts in this sector over the years through new technology innovations.

They say you learn the most from your mistakes. What mistake did you learn the most from?

I tend to move fast. I’m trying to be more patient to allow others to express their opinions before deciding what to do.

What is one thing you wish the glass industry would learn?

Our industry has done a marvelous job developing new products and technologies. Providing value is the key to supporting these advances.

New to the Scene
Mark Newsome
President and CEO, Binswanger Glass
Years in the industry: 2

What is the biggest concern you have or obstacle you face?

Labor shortage and supply chain issues are significant challenges. The aging workforce compounded with the pandemic has put an additional strain on labor.

Who are your biggest influences and role models?

I look for inspirational leaders, people who inspire people to do great things. I have been fortunate to work for many great leaders who have molded me and my leadership style into what I am today.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I’m from a blue-collar family. I started working at a very young age as a laborer. This has helped me garner an understanding of what day-to-day challenges the field experiences. I work with the team and get into the weeds to solve a business problems and never back away from a challenge.

What’s something you’re proud?

We are reaping the rewards of the team that we have built at Binswanger and seeing the results of re-focusing our strategy over the last two years.

They say you learn the most from your mistakes. What mistake did you learn the most from?

Not taking action quickly enough. Time is never on your side, and many leaders sit back and wait too long before making a move.

What is one thing you wish the glass industry would learn?

Our industry needs to attract younger people to the business, or the future of glazing will struggle.

Clear Vision
James O’Callaghan
Founding Director, Eckersley O’Callaghan
Years in the industry: 25

What is the biggest concern you have or obstacle you face?

How fast the industry can react to the demands of climate change in the ongoing use of glass in buildings. There is clearly a tension between benefits of letting light in our buildings and the challenges of managing the energy that comes with that light. Glass is the natural interface in that relationship. The biggest obstacle I face is the collective resources available and offered within the industry to address this challenge head on.

Who are your biggest influences and role models?

My biggest influences are from the inspired people I work with. Each and every day they surprise with their ideas, creativity and tenacity.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I used to be a butcher! Not the most socially acceptable trade these days, but beyond an understanding of where food actually comes from, I found the interaction with a local community in selling the products a very strong influence in confidence around people and how to get the best deal.

What’s something you’re proud?

The journey I have had with Apple since 2001 in the development of their retail spaces and the amazing glass structures that have resulted makes me most proud. Each project was built on the innovation of the last, and as we became more confident with the technology we could push it farther to continually develop and innovate. It taught me that innovation comes in small steps and not giant leaps.

They say you learn the most from your mistakes. What mistake did you learn the most from?

While there isn’t one specific mistake, the ones that I have made are largely because I didn’t quite trust my instinct. It’s always better to interrogate the approach that your instinct suggests before you deviate, not the other way around.

What is one thing you wish the glass industry would learn?

Glass is more than a commodity. It isn’t about how much you can sell, it’s about how it has a future relevance.

Architectural Advocate
Mic Patterson
Ambassador of Innovation & Collaboration, Facade Tectonics Institute
Years in the industry: Too many to count!

What is the biggest concern you have or obstacle you face?

I spend most of my time now as a volunteer in my position at the Facade Tectonics Institute. We are a member organization and rely on the volunteer service of our membership. The challenge is that all of our members, and everyone in the building industry for that matter, are just incredibly busy. They were all very busy before the pandemic, which only amplified their workload.

Who are your biggest influences and role models?

R. Buckminster Fuller, Peter Rice, Jörg Schlaich

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I never wear black clothes at home.

What’s something you’re proud of?

I’ve been involved in so many great projects and industry events, but my favorite is participating in the formation of Facade Tectonics with USC Professor Doug Noble in 2007 and later the founding of the Institute as a non-profit member organization in 2015.

What is one thing you wish the glass industry would learn?

Embrace the constraints and move beyond the protection of vested industry interests. Embracing the constraints imposed by the pursuit of higher performing facade systems, buildings, and urban habitat will drive innovation and accelerate change toward truly resilient and sustainable
outcomes.

Following a Vision
Michael F. Spellman
Founder and CEO, IGE Glass Technologies Inc. and VIG Technologies LLC
Years in the industry: 40+

What is the biggest concern you have or obstacle you face?

Most of today’s messaging and relationship building is done via the internet. It can be difficult to measure the level of effective messaging and especially in developing relationships. My question is: How do the new, younger people entering our industry develop lasting, mutually respectful relationships with a communication focus primarily via the internet?

Who are your biggest influences and role models?

From our industry, the late, great John Wittstock, the first CEO of Oldcastle Inc. stands out. John really helped me to define my business plan about three decades ago. I feel blessed and honored that I had the opportunity to know him, and to spend valuable time with him. Also, generations of my family and my wife Carolyn’s family members, and close friends of all ages and backgrounds.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

Prior to being involved in the glass industry I was a tour director in New England, Yellowstone, and Grand Teton National Parks. And as a boy, my dream was to grow up to be a famous jazz trumpet player. My first business was a shoeshine business having my mother and father as my largest customers. On Sunday mornings, I delivered the Boston Globe through my neighborhood. I was 10, and have been self-employed with a few exceptions
ever since.

What’s something you’re proud of?

The team that Carolyn, my wife and business partner, and I created at both IGE Glass Technologies and VIG Technologies. Without this team, I have my doubts if the level of success we have accomplished would or could have happened. Also the successful introductions to the many innovations discovered that have helped the glass industry as a whole.

They say you learn the most from your mistakes. What mistake did you learn the most from?

I’ve certainly made my fair share of mistakes and then some. I’m very lucky to be blessed with an excellent “delete button” in my head so I don’t focus on them or remember any particular one that changed my life.

Working for Change
Richard Green
Principal/Owner, Green Facades PLLC
Years in the industry: 32

What is the biggest concern you have or obstacle you face?

People like to do things they’ve done before. When you come to a new situation, it can be good to have a new solution and it can even be dangerous to do what you have always done; it may no longer be applicable. So, it’s important to keep an open mind for both the potential problems and the possibilities. The challenge is that people also want an answer in the meeting there and then, but it takes time to engineer the limits of what’s possible. Investing the time to think and talk about both possibilities and problems can end up saving time and money in the long run as well as enable creative designs.

Who are your biggest influences and role models?

There are so many people that have inspired me and guided me in my career that it would be remiss to try and list them. The common element, be it clients, architects or colleagues, that I have worked with and for, as well as those who have willingly shared their knowledge, is that they have all shared a passion for a great outcome. If there is one resounding influence that I can name without offending the rest, it’s my great uncle Sir Roy Grounds. He was the architect for the Australian Academy of Science, the National Gallery of Victoria, the Melbourne Concert Hall, the Victorian State Theatre and the house I grew up in. He set a high bar for what is possible and the great variety of forms in which beauty can be found.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

When I started engineering, music was a passion (and still is), I played double bass in symphony orchestras and later took to conducting them, having Australia’s oldest orchestra under my baton for seven years. The role of the conductor is different to the composer. It is to interpret the intent, organize the team and rehearse the piece so that it is as beautiful as possible, and at a practical level so the performance is sound without it falling apart. Playing music is a wonderful art, but it lacks the permanence of architecture. Today my role is similar to a conductor; interpreting the architectural intent in a sound structure with beauty.

What’s something you’re proud of?

There are many amazing projects that I have been fortunate to be a part of and am proud of. There are some that you put your heart into for such a long time that they feel like your children and you helped shape them as they grew up. There are two projects that are outstanding: the Seattle Space Needle—Century Project. Every time I visit this global icon there are people finding exhilaration as they dare to walk on the rotating glass floor or as they sit on a glass bench and slide into the 11-foot high glass barriers, 600 feet above ground. Also, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center in Greece. While I am proud of my involvement in the development of the structural glass and steel main walls that are fine pieces of engineering, and the architecture is amazing, it’s what this building means to a nation that makes it special. It’s a new home for the national opera and national library, two of Greece’s great gifts of culture to the entire world, and it opened during the Global Economic Crisis.

They say you learn the most from your mistakes. What mistake did you learn the most from?

When I was an intern I was given some parameters and formulas from a supervisor as part of a project, yet when we went to site the geometry didn’t fit. There was a crew of guys standing around asking what to do. In the end the error was in the piece I had been given and had not found for myself. The lesson was that guidance is always helpful, but everyone is human and if I did not know the right way to do it, I should do the research myself. Advice is wonderful; it gives you a starting place of where to look, but do your own leg work and note your sources and citations accurately so you don’t make mistakes.

What is one thing you wish the glass industry would learn?

Glass can fracture, but with good composite design it can be amazingly strong, reliable and robust. There have been heroic designs and there have been foolhardy ones. For the last 10 years I have been chairing a committee and working with experts around the world to develop a standard that will provide guidance to architects and engineers alike on how to make good glass designs.

Louis Moreau
Head of Technology and Innovation,
Architectural Glass North America (AGNORA)
Years in the industry: 31

What is the biggest concern you have or obstacle you face?

Stagnation! The glass fabrication market is too comfortable. One can still make the same double-glazed units as 15 years ago and make money. There are very few paradigm-shift innovations. How can we become climate change leaders?

Who are your biggest influences and role models?

Arthur Ulens was my mentor at AGC. He was a fantastic leader who inspired, listened and trusted my solutions. He gave me the passion for this noble material. Also, James O’Callaghan and his team who demystify the brittle material and streamline structures while preserving safety.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I hug trees. In the morning, I often run on mountain trails near our plant in Collingwood, Ontario. I think trees are so dominant as a species, their DNA heritage shows us how much they learned.

What’s something you’re proud of?

Breaking the industry rule that anisotropy is inherent to heat treatment is an achievement. It was only possible through assembling a multidisciplinary and global team that pushed and shoved to build a simple, concrete and applicable standard.

They say you learn the most from your mistakes. What mistake
did you learn the most from?

I was the corporate social responsibility manager for a large corporation. I created this position in the company and my first global project was safety. Unfortunately, a worker died in the Philippines during that period. That was tough for me. I learned that safety needs to be built into our process and if you have even just a thought about something that could go wrong, stop and correct it.

What is one thing you wish the glass industry would learn?

We need to correctly assess and sell the value of glass in light of its most precious characteristics: it’s an ecological substance with one of the lowest material input factors; it’s the only building envelope material that allows us to harvest the sun’s energy; it’s a durable barrier between us and the elements that are growing more dangerous; it’s irreplaceable in the photovoltaic energy production; and it provides rejuvenating sunlight.

Julia Schimmelpenningh
Technical Engagement Manager – Architectural, Eastman Chemical Co.
Years in the industry: 33

What is the biggest concern you have or obstacle you face?

Time. There just never seems to be enough time to do all the things I want to do in a day.

Who are your biggest influences and role models?

Over the years there have been so many different people during different times in my career, but the biggest and most consistent role model, the person I get my work ethic and moral compass from is my mom. Nowadays and with the learnings and insights from the pandemic, my influence comes from my family. Without my husband, Jeff, and my two daughters, Syd and Lyndz, it would be difficult to see the forest for the trees.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I make and sell some pottery.

What’s something you’re proud of?

Participating in the design for the encasement of the U.S. Constitution … it’s the U.S. Constitution!

They say you learn the most from your mistakes. What mistake did you learn the most from?

Mistakenly thinking people are who they show you and their goals are true. Most are, but my greatest learnings have come from trusting those that just can’t be genuine.

What is one thing you wish the glass industry would learn?

I have two: Recycle and reuse effectively from buildings and eliminate the redundancy between associations.

Sustainability Stewards
Richard Braunstein
Vice President of Research and Development, Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope®
Years in the industry: 26

What is the biggest concern you have or obstacle you face?

Trying to accomplish a lot in a little bit of time.

Who are your biggest influences and role models?

Every teacher I’ve ever had from first grade through graduate school.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I went through the classic mid-life re-invention at 40. Prior to my time in the industry, I ran a small manufacturing business for 16 years. Through the help and understanding of my family and especially my wife, I completed graduate school and went onto my first job in our industry.

What’s something you’re proud of?

While I like to believe that I’ve participated in a number of successful projects, the truth is that such successes cannot be sustained unless you’ve built a highly competent team with clear goals and well-established processes. Having had the opportunity to build these successful teams has given me my greatest satisfaction.

They say you learn the most from your mistakes. What mistake did you learn the most from?

My worst mistakes have come when I’ve chosen to ignore the data. Interestingly my best successes have come when I’ve relied on my instincts. The lesson learned is knowing when to lean on one and when to bypass the other.

What is one thing you wish the glass industry would learn?

We need to embrace the idea that sustainability is a life imperative not a checkbox.

Helen Sanders
General Manager, Technoform North America
Years in the industry: 27 years

What is the biggest concern you have or obstacle you face?

Moving our market much faster toward a more sustainable built environment for people and the planet. The dynamics of the construction market simply do not result in better buildings without the market interventions of more stringent building energy codes, regulations and incentives.

Who are your biggest influences and role models?

The leaders and collaborators at the Façade Tectonics Institute, and the even larger group of amazingly talented and insightful AEC professionals that I have had the privilege to meet, hear speak and have discussions with at FTI’s events. At the risk of omission, I would like to mention the following, whom I consider both role models and friends, and from whom I have learned much and gained a rich perspective: Mic Patterson (FTI), Attila
Arian (Schüco), Stephen Selkowitz (LBNL), Roger Fricke (Clark Construction), Stephane Hoffman (Morrison Hershfield), “the two Jeffs”—Haber (W&W) and Heymann (Benson), Stacey Hooper (NBBJ), Keith Boswell (SOM), Peter Weismantle (Smith+Gill), Ajla Aksamija (University of Utah), Hamid Vossoughi (WSP), Ted Kesik (University of Toronto) and Valerie Block (FTI).

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I am an equestrian and love to run and jump on horseback.

What’s something you’re proud of?

One of my favorite construction projects was the renovation of the Space Needle. To experience the finished space, with wide expanses of highly customized and engineered insulating and laminated glass, is an incredible feeling.

They say you learn the most from your mistakes. What mistake did you learn the most from?

I regret not having the knowledge and the courage sooner to advocate more urgently in our industry for the needed and more rapid changes to address our climate emergency. It is often hard to go against the flow, especially in your early career when you don’t yet have the self-confidence to raise your hand and support a contrary position.

What is one thing you wish the glass industry would learn?

There is really no downside of driving codes to higher fenestration performance. We have the technologies and products waiting to be used, which would cost less if we used more of them. Having to install higher performance products drives higher revenues and profits because of their higher, added value, and it re-distributes revenues away from other subcontract packages.

Sense of Community
Oliver Stepe
President, YKK AP America
Years in the industry: 36

What is the biggest concern/obstacle you face?

In the near or short term, the challenges our businesses are facing in terms of supply chain constraints and cost escalation as well as access to qualified manufacturing labor are like I have never experienced in my career. In the long term, a good challenge that we happily take head on is continually preparing our organization for generational transfer to support the future success of our company and our employees.

Who are your biggest influences and role models?

I draw from a wide array of influences. I was most certainly influenced by my humble upbringing growing up in a first generation immigrant, blue collar working class family where I observed unwavering work ethic. From there my influences range from my first boss in the glass industry when I started as a draftsperson in contract glazing (we are still in touch today) to my predecessor in my current role as president of YKK AP America, to the past CEO of our parent company who now sits beside me as a peer on our board of directors. In recent years I find myself increasingly influenced and inspired by the younger people in life who have broadened my mind even further.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I don’t play golf or tennis or hang out at a country club. I’d rather be a screaming fan at an Atlanta United soccer match, riding my skateboard, cruising on my electric scooter, or taking a joy ride in my convertible with the music blasting anything from U2 to the Bee Gees or Cardi B to Doja Cat.

What’s something you’re proud of?

While I am most certainly proud of what our companies design and manufacture and how all of our architectural projects contribute to the visual landscape of the built environment, the projects that I’ve personally worked on that are a great sense of pride and joy are those involving community impact because of the positive, sometimes long-lasting effect
they can have on people’s lives. One example is helping a local community complete a monument to Martin Luther King Jr. in Dublin, Ga., at the site where he held his first public speech as a teenager.

They say you learn the most from your mistakes. What mistake did you learn the most from?

Procrastination and sometimes waiting too long to take decisive action or to compel action by others is my Achilles heel. I could come up with a million excuses, but they are all just that, excuses. Have the courage to make decisions sooner rather than later, even if they are unpopular, and have the fortitude to make a course correction quickly if things didn’t go according to plan.

What is one thing you wish the glass industry would learn?

Keep doing what you are doing to elevate the glass and building industry to its rightful place at the table … For too many years the industry had been silent and lacking true presence and purpose. In the past few years I have become increasingly impressed and inspired by how industry companies, thought leaders and influencers, and the entire glass industry community has stepped up its game in terms of product innovation, talent development, and sustainability initiatives to name a few.

In Memoriam
Bernard Lax
Pulp Studio

Bernard Lax, who passed away unexpectedly in August, was an innovator and leader in the architectural decorative glass industry. He received multiple nominations to be considered posthumously as one of the industry’s most influential people. In remembering his impact on the industry, Julia Schimmelpenningh with Eastman Chemical commented, “I will fondly remember all the laughs and discussions we have had over so many years, but especially his tenacity to bring about change and the betterment of an industry he so obviously loved working in.”

Deserving Recognition

In addition to those featured in the profiles, a number of others were selected for inclusion who declined to participate or were unavailable to comment. However, we still find them influential and have listed them here:

Roger O’Shaughnessy
President/CEO Cardinal Glass

Diana Perreiah
President, Arconic Building and Construction Systems Division

Ty Silberhorn
CEO Apogee Industries

Henri Tam
President, Xinyi Glass North America

James Williams
General president, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades

Rick Zoulek
Executive vice president, Guardian Industries

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