Volume 39, Issue 4, April  2004

Big Business
Glazing Community Prepares for 
Business Growth at Annual BEC Conference
by Ellen Giard Chilcoat

The past few years haven’t been the greatest for the commercial construction industry. So now, with forecasts predicting an increase in business this year and next, much of the glazing community is readying itself for work. In preparation, nearly 300 people attended the Glass Association of North America’s (GANA) Building Envelope Contractors (BEC) Conference, which took place February 22-24 at the Monte Carlo Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. Attendance figures were reported to be the highest in the conference’s seven-year history. 

Glass industry representatives—including contract glaziers and suppliers—came for the three-day program hoping to learn about new products, industry trends, business growth opportunities and other issues affecting the glazing community.

“Typically, I’ve found the seminar content to be informative; it’s not the same old stuff,” said Tony Baca of Southwest Glass & Glazing Inc. “Seminars are about new trends affecting the industry.” Baca added that the conference also offers good networking opportunities. “You can get together and talk with the people you’ve met over the years. Through conversations you usually learn that we all deal with the same problems [and issues].

Growing Your Business
To paraphrase Steve Little, conference keynote speaker, business growth involves doing [business] differently than anyone else.

“Build systems,” he said, “that allow you to [operate] better than anyone else.

Little, advised attendees on five growth factors they could employ in their own operations: strong core values, outstanding market intelligence, effective strategic planning, superior processes and organizational 

“[You have to be] emotionally, physically and financially bound to growth,” Little said. “[Your] partners must share that commitment. Without commitment, the previous four practices will be less successful.”
Some advice he offered to situate a business for this growth included having the ability to recognize and adapt to changes in the marketplace and knowing the customer.

Looking Ahead
Nick Limb of Ducker Worldwide offered an optimistic outlook on the commercial construction market.
“Business is looking to pick up; things are going to get better,” Limb said.

With commercial construction struggling the past couple of years, an expectant increase in business is good news to the glazing industry. Glass demand is also growing, so contract glaziers can likely expect to see more business in late 2004 and into 2005.

Also on a construction note, protecting glass on construction sites is a huge issue for all parties involved in a job. Al Lutz of PPG, Arthur Berkowitz of J.E. Berkowitz and Greg Carney, GANA technical director, led a construction site panel discussion. The session provided a venue for discussion of common site issues and problems, such as a job site not being ready when the glass arrives, work sequence changes and the difficulty in having other trades working around stored glass. To help educate all parties involved in construction work, the GANA tempering division construction subcommittee has published an article that discusses the various resources available through the association that provide information on ensuring clean and protected glass (see the March 2004 USGlass.

“We want to ensure a good product remains a good product after it’s installed,” said Carney.

A number of trends and innovations are also on the rise for the glass industry. Three industry representatives discussed some of these applications.

Rick Voelker of Viracon discussed the ever-increasing desire for transparency.

“Based on what we’ve seen, clear glass is the color of choice,” Voelker said. 

Scott Hoover of Pilkington North America provided information on the company’s glass channel system. The system is a self-supportive (there’s no need for a vertical aluminum structure), transparent inner glazing.

“This is not a new product,” Hoover said. “It’s been used in Europe for 30 or 40 years, but it’s starting to gain popularity in North America.”

“The transparent application of glass helps spread light out evenly,” Hoover said. “Architects like that they can do large expanses and large widths.” 

Keeping to the theme of increased transparency, another design trend is point-supported glass. Timm Walker of Mero Structures offered information on this.

“Point-supported glass is a mullionless system with an array of backup structures,” said Walker. Glass fins, an example of a back-up structure, are declining in popularity with architects. Others, such as tension and cable net systems, are being used more.

Protective Glazing
Many buildings today need to be more than just attractive structures. Terrorist threats and disastrous weather conditions (i.e. hurricanes) have made the need for protective glazing an important issue to the glazing community.

Michael Duffy with Leo A. Daly provided a professional engineer’s perspective. In Duffy’s presentation he stressed the fact that there are multi-dimensional possibilities with glass.

“Today, glazing is essential to the built environment,” he said. “Protective glazing equals occupant safety and security. We must make sure the façade performs as intended.”

He also discussed a number of different protective glazing projects on which he had been involved, and some of the challenges and obstacles that had to be overcome.

Duffy was followed by Moty Emek of Oldcastle Glass ARPAL and Holly Stone of Hinman Consulting Engineers who lead a protective glazing panel discussion.

Serious Discussions
The BEC Conference has always provided an open forum for contract glaziers and suppliers to discuss challenges, issues and problems. A forum to facilitate such discussions took place lead by a panel of four industry leaders: Brad Austin, Viracon; Charles Clift, CDC Inc.; Peter Koukos, Enclos Corp.; and Bill Sullivan, Heartland Glass Co. 

As we all know, talking about problems and challenges can often lead to heated debates. To keep the environment laid-back a beer cart was on hand so attendees could discuss their issues over a couple of beers. Topics included working with suppliers, lack of product knowledge among architects and building a quality workforce were big ones.

When asked the question “what do you want from your supplier?” the resounding answer was commitment.
“We want them to deliver to us in accordance with what they told us they’d do,” said one audience member.
Building and maintaining a quality workforce continues to be a challenge.

“We’re a small company so it’s very important to have a quality workforce,” said Sullivan. “We require everyone to do one continuing education course per year. We also focus on making [the workplace] a fun place to be. Also, be flexible,” he advised. 

Mold and Risk Management 
The issue of mold in buildings is one that’s been in the news quite a bit. In fact, according to the 
presentation from attorney Mark Shellerup and Philip Watters with Rimkus Consulting Group, the media is one reason mold has been such a hot topic.

“And lots of people are filing claims,” Shellerup said. “Mold litigation is exploding.” 

The presentation discussed ways to reduce the associated hazards.

The last presentation covered subcontractor risk management. 

Don Gregory of the American Subcontractors Association (ASA) provided what he called “tools to try and level the playing field.”

What tools do subcontractors have in their control?

• Conditional bids;
• ASA addenda;
• The education of customers; and 
• Walking away from unfair subcontract language. 

He also provided a good, bad and ugly look at areas such as contract clauses (see box) and indemnity.

Killer Contract Clauses
Good: No contingent payments
Not So Bad: Pay when paid
The Ugly: Pay if paid

Types of Indemnity
Good: Limited form indemnity – no indemnity for another’s negligence.
Bad: Broad form indemnity – indemnity for another’s negligence, but only for personal injury and property damage.
Ugly: Super broad form indemnity – for losses and expenses associated with your performance or scope of work (non-insurable risks).

“Indemnity is very complicated. It’s a promise to hold harmless/protect someone from a risk they’d have to hold to their own,” said Gregory. “It’s promising to assume risk that you otherwise would not have to.” He added that a number of states have adopted anti-indemnity statutes. (see box for the good, bad and ugly on indemnity.)

“Get insurance and indemnity provisions every time you get a subcontract,” he advised.

Looking Forward
Plans are in the works for next year’s event, which will again take place at the Monte Carlo in Las Vegas, February 20-22. 


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