Volume 36, Issue 5, May 2001

Well-Worth the Effort

Reaping the Benefits of "Relationship-Building"
by Robert Foster

The architects and specification writers of today are time-challenged. Fast track projects are the norm. Design professionals can no longer be the sole product experts or stay abreast of every new technology involved in today’s complex buildings. They need expert help from contract glaziers. They also need manufacturers with reliable products that meet the program requirements and provide single-source responsibility. When the contract glazier becomes a member of the design team, he provides the architect with a reliable and immediate resource, and that reliability is rewarded.

Amid the hectic pace of today’s business, it is all too easy to set aside relationships with architects and specification writers, but some of the most successful contract glaziers have found these contacts well-worth the time and effort.

Design professionals are relying more and more on the expertise of local contract glaziers who are a strong source of product information, selection and application, as well as samples, pricing, schedule commitments and options for solving design problems. Most significantly, this gives contract glaziers the opportunity to share their knowledge and expertise directly with the architectural team.

Much to Gain
The results of architectural promotion can earn contract glaziers a place on the design team, and could result in many benefits, including:
• A first look at projects before they are listed by the reporting agencies. This provides the opportunity for contract glaziers to match his products with the program;
• An opportunity to offer technical assistance during the schematic and design development stages;
• An opportunity to assist the specifications writer during the construction document stage by providing the competitive information required to ensure that equal products are included in the case of a non-proprietary specification;
• An insight into the product mix which provides an opportunity for packaging and single-source responsibility which is important to both the building owner and architect;
• A last look during the contract award stage by helping to sort out options and substitutions;
• The satisfaction of being a consultant and a valued subcontractor, as
well as building lasting professional relationships.

Trends to Consider

One of the trends contract glaziers should consider when discussing products with architects is the design flexibility of products today, such as storefronts with multiple-glazing planes and the design options of curtainwalls, in-cluding unitized construction techniques. Questions frequently arise, such as when to use storefront and when to use curtainwall, or which of the many hardware options should be used for entrance doors.

Another trend is the soaring energy prices and blackouts, which have increased architectural interest in green products, such as powder coatings. Architects increasingly consider recycled content and performance.

Photovoltaic products that create energy from the sun through solar panels are gaining increased attention. Promoting a supplier as a member of the U.S. Green Building Council may create an edge, as will discussing sustainability trends with design professionals.

The damage caused by hurricanes, tornadoes and violent storms, particularly on the East Coast, has resulted in a growing market for impact-resistant products. Florida Building Codes have been tightened and expanded (for related story, see page 61). Architects are asking many questions about which infill products should be used with these impact-resistant products, and contract glaziers are knowledgeable about both these products and their applications. Many of these impact-resistant products and infills provide hurricane season protection with the added benefit of boosting building security throughout the year.

Technology has provided the timesaving boom of immediate e-mail communication between architect, owner, contract glazier and general contractor. Manu-facturers’ websites and CDs now provide large quantities of instant product information, installation photographs, details and specification downloads. Delving into these websites and CDs provide a valuable resource for contract glaziers and architects. Website information may be more current than the manufacturer’s printed product literature because the web can be updated more frequently.

While most contract glaziers have the knowledge and experience to provide the design professional with the services he requires, it is frequently a good idea to include suppliers in a joint call. If your supplier is a member of the American Institute of Architect’s Continuing Education System, an educational program that provides the attending architects with required learning units, they are provided an important service.

The advantage of spending time and building strong relationships with architects and specification writers is invaluable for contract glaziers. The extra effort will be well-worth your time.

Robert Foster serves as senior marketing manager for Kawneer Company Inc., an Alcoa company based in
Norcross, Ga.