On the Road with USGlass

All About It

So the first Building Envelope Contractors (BEC) Conference under the auspices of the newly-combined Glass Association of North America-National Glass Association (known for now as NGA-GANA) is history. And it was, as just about every BEC has been, a good one.

When the economy is robust, as it is now, it’s hard to fit everything into a day-and-a-half program, because people need as much time to network as they do in the sessions. So it did seem that everyone was starved for enough time to fit it all in. Still, it was nice to hear things like this:

Here are my top five take-aways:

1. It’s all about making connections—no, not the connections among people but the points on a project where different materials connect. These connections were discussed as the location for a majority of issues. “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 “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 too,” added Curtis Nordin of W&W Glass, a panelist in the “MacGyver It: Field Fixes for Curtainwall” session.

Jeff Haber (far left) with W & W Glass moderated an industry challenges and trends panel that included (from left to right) Keith Boswell, SOM; Jeff Heymann, Benson Industries; Paul Goudeau, Saint-Gobain; and Joe Conover, Clark Construction.

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 on 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 have before. “We have recognized we need to provide more in order for contractors to work efficiently,” said Boswell. Architects are “clearing up a number of legal hurdles around doing this.” 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 at it 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.”

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 Industries 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 It” 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.

Participants on the “MacGyver It” panel included, from left to right, moderator Matt Kamper, Woodbridge Glass; Anthony Santocono, Kawneer Co.; Dudley McFarquhar, MGI McFarquhar Group; and Curtis Nordin, W&W Glass.

5. It’s all about the practical—practical advice and hints poured from presenters throughout the conference. My two favorites came from Jack Jackson of CCL West, in “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.”

Duly noted.