Volume 36, Issue 7, July 2001

Driving the Lesson Home
Project Managers Find Ways to Get Ahead of the Game at GANA's BEC Educational Seminar
by Ellen Giard

When most people think about Charlotte, N.C., they probably think sports. After all, pro football, basketball and NASCAR racing all have homes there. But it wasn’t sports that brought contract glaziers to the city May 31 through June 2. Instead the 65 attendees came to take part in the Building Envelope Contractors (BEC) Third Annual Project Managers Educational Seminar, sponsored by the Glass Association of North America (GANA). The three days gave those attending ample educational and networking outlets, as well as entertainment and social activities.

The Green Flag
The seminar activities got underway Thursday afternoon with a tour of Guardian Industries Corp.’s float plant located in Richburg, S.C. Production manager Ken Eimen welcomed the group and provided a brief history of Guardian.
Once inside the plant, tour guides took attendees through each division of the plant, including the furnace, cutting and packaging and the tempering and 
pattern line. Eimen said that at the high end of the lehr, temperatures get as high as 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit. “The process of turning sand and other materials into high-end glass is a highly technical process that can be fascinating to witness,” Eimen said.

Taking the Lead
Friday morning began with the seminar, “Project Management Live!—The Day to Day Challenges of Project Coordination.” Presenters were Steve Barber, Arcadia Pro-ducts Inc. of Northbrook, Ill.; Craig Carson, A-1 Glass Inc. of Engle-wood, Colo.; Andy Gum, Thomas Glass Co. of Colum-bus, Ohio; and Mike Winkler of Owatonna, Minn.-based Viracon. They discussed different facets of project coordination that are often challenging and steps that can be taken to improve upon the situations. “We’re here to share information with you,” Gum said. “We’re not here to tell you how to work, but to cover all ends of the spectrum.”

Topics discussed included estimate review, scope review, task identification, purchase orders, subcontract agreement, manpower, equipment and scheduling. Holding a kick-off meeting was one suggestion offered. The meeting would include project managers, estimators, field superintendents and most anyone from within the company involved on the project, and would serve as a way to discuss the project at hand and review documents. 

Comments and questions about other problems project managers face also came from the audience. One in attendance asked, “Are you finding that general contractors aren’t really being general contractors anymore? It’s like they aren’t even managers.”

Carson responded, “Now we have to be knowledgeable of all facets of construction. Twenty-five years ago we just dealt with glass and glazing. Now we ask to see drawings for other areas of the project too.”
Jeff Razwick of Technical Glass Products next presented “The Latest Developments in Fire-Rated Glazing.” Through the seminar, he said he hoped to offer a better idea of what is possible with fire-rated glass. Outlined in his discussion were functions of fire-rated glass, testing procedures, product categories and framing. 

Razwick said fire-ratings are available from 20 minutes to three hours, which is how long the glass is expected to perform during a fire. “Fire-rated glass offers protection whether the sprinklers activate or not,” he said. 

Perhaps a coincidence, but that same day (June 1), which marked the start of the 2001 hurricane season, Julie Schimmelpen-ningh with Solutia Inc. of Springfield, Mass., conducted the seminar, “Impact Resistant Glazing—Meeting Today’s Needs for Safety, Security, Blast and Hurricane Resistance with Laminated Glass.” She discussed the different levels of impact-resistant glazing and benefits each can offer. “Laminated glass is a high performer in bomb-
blast protection,” she said. 

“It [helps] protect building structure, occupants and the surroundings.”

Wrapping up the day’s lectures, Dr. Philip Roos, P.S. with Roos and Associates of Arlington, Texas, led the group with his lesson on team building. “I’m going to suggest to you that human beings haven’t done a very good job of building teams,” he said. “Ants, bees and lions are better at team building than humans.” Cooperating and taking action to achieve a tangible outcome are ways that could help make a team stronger, Roos said. He added that successful teams have a mission, goals, a positive attitude, motivation, leadership and delegation.

Repairs and Adjustments
In order for buildings to withstand elements such as wind and water, mock-up and field testing are recommended practices. Offering advice on how to help buildings remain secure, Scott Warner of Architectural Testing Inc. began Saturday’s session with “Pre-Construction Mock-Up and Field Testing.” He discussed keys to a successful laboratory mock-up, test procedures and test methods.

Scott West of Spider International spoke on rigging systems and equipment. “Never ignore safety systems … look for hazards early in the day and early in the week,” he said. West said possible problems need to be caught early, before you are used to looking at the project. “Looking for problems when the day is early will help you catch something that may not look wrong later in the day,” he said.

Nearing the Finish
The final sessions of the BEC educational seminar consisted of project management focus groups. The day before, attendees were placed into seven randomly selected groups that were each assigned a different challenge, which they were to discuss and try to resolve. They were then to make a short presentation to the entire group the afternoon of the last day. Through the discussions, the groups covered such matters as keys to a successful job site meeting. The group suggested knowing the scope of the work—know what you are going to do and what you are not going to do. 
Another group covered managing job site tools and equipment, and looked at the pros and cons of renting equipment versus buying it. Other topics were customer service, setting up a project, field quality control, dealing with defective specs and dealing with punch lists on projects.

“The focus groups continue to give attendees an opportunity to discuss key issues of day-to-day project management,” said Greg Carney, GANA technical director. “It offers the best opportunity for communication and dialogue.”

Word from the Crowd
Although this year’s seminar was smaller than the past two years, it still provided an abundance of information for those in attendance. “I missed last year’s, but went to the first one, and I thought it [this year’s] was very well done, and there was a wealth of information for the small- to medium-sized company,” said Jerry Walters of Toledo Mirror and Glass Co. in Toledo, Ohio. “I especially enjoyed the first morning’s panel discussion … and found the focus groups really good because they gave us a chance to sit with others and take part in something, which helps everyone get involved,” he added.

“The concept of the project managers’ seminar continues to draw support from both BEC members and prospective members,” Carney said. “It is truly a unique training opportunity for estimators, project managers and field coordinators,” he added.

Plans are already underway for the 2002 educational seminar, but no definite date or location has been announced. 

Ellen Giard is the managing editor of USGlass magazine.


© Copyright Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.