Volume 39, Issue 7, July  2004

Look, Listen and Learn
Contract Glazing Industry Members Gathered 
to Learn from Industry Experts and Each other

• Negotiating a bid;
• Different types of curtainwall;
• Mock-up testing; 
• A plant tour;
• Networking receptions; and 
• Open discussions. 

Those involved in the contract glazing business were able to learn about the aforementioned topics (as well as others) and take advantage of these activities during the Glass Association of North America’s (GANA) inaugural Contract Glazing Educational Conference (previously called the Project Managers Educational Conference), which took place May 13-15, 2004 at the Wyndham Minneapolis Airport in Minneapolis. 
The focus was changed in order to incorporate the needs and concerns of the estimators and sales staff in the contract glazing industry. 

Starting Off
Touring a nearby glass-related company has become a favorite activity on the conference schedule. This year, the Owatonna, Minn.-headquartered Viracon was just a short drive away. Attendees were able to see the company’s fabrication facility, which included tempering, laminating, coating and insulating operations.
Officially beginning the educational portion of the conference, Andy Gum of Thomas Glass and Building Envelope Contractors (BEC) division chairperson, greeted the crowd and provided an overview of the BEC division and its activities. He said the division is the largest and fastest-growing of all GANA divisions and now has 87 members.

The day’s first presenter was Greg Cleary of Action Learning of Minneapolis, who talked about the art of negotiating a bid.

“If we’re going to compete, shouldn’t we do something different?” he asked. “Rather than spending all of your time focusing on the bid, focus on negotiating.”

Some tactics he encouraged included knowing who your ideal customers are and building relationships.

Curtainwall and Testing
Glazing systems are evolving at what seems like a continual pace. To provide an update on some of the latest and different types of curtainwall systems, Don Earnhart of CDC Inc. in Dallas, spoke next. 

“Different types of curtainwall affect the look of the building,” said Earnhart.

Types discussed ranged from stick systems and structural gasket glazing to two- and four-sided structural silicone and point-supported glazing.

Marty Scarborough, also with CDC, followed with a presentation about mock-up testing. Scarborough said there are three areas of concern when testing: structural adequacy, which determines whether the system will perform under the expected loading conditions; water control, which shows whether the structure will keep uncontrolled water from entering the building (Scarborough said leakage was a building’s number one problem); and air control, which determines whether the system will limit the amount of air coming in. Other concerns for testing include thermal and sound transmittance, blasts, hurricanes and seismic. Another test, destruction testing, pushes the wall to the extreme to see how the wall will fail.

The next presentation, which came from Steve Hauser of the University of Minnesota and Target Construction Services, the construction arm of Target stores, led to a number of comments and concerns from the audience. Hauser talked about reverse auctions/e-bidding. In this form of awarding subcontract work, pre-qualified bidders vie for jobs online. Bidding starts at a designated level, which drops as bids are placed. The concern among many is that the process makes the glazing contractor a commodity, based solely on price, rather than service and relationships. Hauser disagrees, though, and says it is the pre-qualification process that keeps e-bidding from being only focused on price.

“Pre-qualification is a part of this that makes it work for us,” Hauser said. (Editor’s Note: The August USGlass will feature an in-depth look at reverse auctions.)

Open Discussion
The afternoon activities split the group into two—project management and estimating/sales—for discussions on pertinent industry topics. 

In the project manager’s segment, moderated by Steve Barber of Arcadia Products Inc., the group talked about the following topics:

• Start-up and planning;
• Documentation;
• Project/labor scheduling software;
• Field checking and coordination;
• Coordinating subcontractors; and
• Time management.

Having a good understanding of the project was one area on which the group focused.
“Learn as much as you can about the job prior to the kick-off meeting,” said Barber.
Project documentation was also an important matters. This is important, Barber said, because it helps ensure everyone understands the job the same way.

Bill Sullivan of Heartland Glass Co. lead the estimating/sales forum, which covered the following areas:

• Estimating and working a project 
• Working knowledge of codes and 
• Contract terms;
• Project estimating software;
• Sales contact management software;
• Marketing and contract glazing 
companies; and
• RFPs and RFIs.

Of the topics the group covered, the marketing of contract glazing companies was discussed in depth. Some marketing measures they talked about included keeping employees involved, the need for on-site employees to be clean and neat (clothes and equipment), Yellow Page advertising, putting the company “catch phrase” on materials and documents and volunteering in industry activities.

The Fine Print
The first session the next morning came from Andy Gum, who talked about the importance of understanding front-end documents. Front-end documents consist of all the paperwork that a contract glazier has to take care of prior to being awarded a job. The discussion covered areas such as relationships, rights and responsibilities, contract information, insurance requirements/indemnification, scope/schedule, etc.

In talking about contracts, Gum said it was important to know the companies for whom you are working, whether the contract is incorporated into the bid package and what other documents are incorporated.
“In most cases you’re agreeing to a document you’ve never seen and will never see,” said Gum. “You’re agreeing to the owner/contractor agreement.”

Mary Hester of JLM Wholesale located in Oxford, Mich., next provided an overview of electronic and security entrances. She said the industry is seeing an increase in the usage of electronic locks in storefronts. She talked about different types of locks, such as electronic and magnetic, their pros and cons, installation options and applications as well as exit devices and hardware.

Wise Words
The conference’s last presentation came from John Frye, retired president of Harmon Inc., who talked about negotiating a subcontract in the real world.

“Contracting is a slippery slope and it’s easy to fall down,” Frye said. “It’s a very risky business.”
To prepare attendees for subcontract negotiation he offered some advice:
• Don’t take on a job you’re not 
capable of doing;
• A good contract begins with a good 
proposal; make your scope very 
• In the real world a fair contract for 
subcontractors doesn’t exist; do the 
best you can.

Learning from Others
Many attending the conference found it to be a good opportunity to gather information, education and knowledge from peers. Steven Russell, an estimator/project manager with Trainor Glass in Dallas, attended the conference for the first time and said it was a positive experience.

“I left with an enhanced knowledge of legal issues,” he said. “That was my favorite part—hearing those topics addressed and what we, as subcontractors, have to look out for in the industry.” 

Thinking Ahead
Next year the conference will take place April 14-16 at the Monte Carlo Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. 
To learn more visit www.glasswebsite.com. 


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