Volume 36, Issue 12, December 2001


Covering All Bases
        Weigh Your Options Before Making a Play
by John L. Feininger Jr.

The Tarpon Springs Public Safety Building in Florida includes medium-stile, impact-resistant entrances and center-glazed, impact-resistant framing.

Great baseball players consider their options and strategize carefully before throwing each pitch or stepping into the batter’s box. Great glazing contractors do the same thing before making a bid. As manufacturers and installers continue to push the extreme limits for product performance, it is more crucial than ever to sit back, take a deep breath and evaluate the true cost of an installation before making your play. 

The Right Questions
You will need to ask some tough questions. For example, is tweaking a system to meet higher performance standards more economical than installing a higher- performing system in the first place? Should storefront really be used in a window wall or curtainwall application? Does the project require impact-resistant products? What are the short-term costs of these decisions versus the long-term liability risks? To obtain a healthy bottom line and maintain credibility and a good reputation, these questions need to be asked and the answers analyzed on a regular basis before making your plays.

Following manufacturer’s installation instructions provides an important safeguard to avoid callbacks and future problems.

While all parties are interested in getting the best performing system at the most economical price, does that mean that one certified test report will cover all of the various applications for which the product can be used ? A typical framing system can incorporate numerous, additional critical seals that help the system meet higher performance standards. But are these laboratory conditions easily duplicated in the field? What about pressures to complete and meet the installation schedule? For example, will a framing system that is certified in a laboratory with both an interior and exterior perimeter seal perform adequately in an application where the perimeter framing members bridge a cavity wall and where there may not be an interior perimeter seal? The tough answer is that typically it will not. Unfortunately, the truth is that this kind of product misapplication frequently results in performance problems and opens the door to subsequent litigation.

Employee Training and Product Installation
One way to guard against litigation and future installation problems is to ensure that installers are well-trained. In today’s ever-changing and competitive world, the best companies train their employees. Ongoing training is a sound investment over the long term and is now the norm. Consider a manufacturer who offers training for customers at both beginner and more experienced levels. Does your manufacturer offer training or on-site installation experts who can advise, troubleshoot and train installers? These experts clarify correct installation procedures and help prevent callbacks and future installation problems.

It is imperative that products are selected and engineered for each application to ensure they are the right products for the job. This involves reviewing all applicable sections of the specifications, reviewing both local and national building codes, knowing surrounding conditions, etc. This review will help steer installers toward a product or system that may meet the project requirements. To ensure your choice will meet project conditions and specified performance requirements after installation, consult the manufacturer and examine the product’s certified test reports along with the installation instructions. 

Cost Considerations
This in-depth review will determine your true installed costs and is time well-spent. Materials are only a portion of these costs. Your materials, installation and profit, including warranties and potential liability, are your true costs. While a manufacturer’s product may offer a 15-percent savings in material cost, it may also cost 15 percent more to install, so your initial savings don’t translate into a more profitable project. Today’s environment requires smart bids and installation practices to offset possible litigation. A few callbacks can eliminate the profit from a project easily, while lawsuits can eliminate an entire company.
So cover your bases. Select products and make a smart bid after a thorough review of all aspects of the project. Follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions, which should be taken to the job site for reference. If a condition is not covered, don’t guess, but ask the manufacturer for a clarification, training or assistance. Your name, company and reputation are on the front line and following smart business practices will pay large dividends down the road. As the great Yogi Berra once said, “It ain’t over till it’s over.” 


John L. Feininger Jr. is marketing manager for entrances and framing systems at Kawneer Co. Inc. in Norcross, Ga.


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