Volume 12, Issue 1 - January/February 2008

Tower Power
Obradovich’s Work Nets Big Job

When Jason P. Obradovich got the call from Earl Fossum, his heart was pounding. Obradovich’s resume was good. He built up his tint company, Glass Coating Specialist Inc. (GCS) (www.SafetyForWindows.com) in Tampa, Fla. Before that, he had already built a solid custom business in Alabama. But the largest building he’d tinted to date—a ten-story office tower in Sarasota, Fla., paled in comparison to One Sarasota Tower—the 13-story, $40-million beacon on the bay that Fossum ran. The approximately 45,000-square-foot tint job would provide a nice little payday. But, as Obradovich listened to Fossum, the vice president for ICORR Properties International, he could see it fading away.

“He calls me up and says, ‘I heard you have not done a project of this size before,’” Obradovich says. “My heart just dropped. I knew it was over. But then he says, ‘Congratulations, you’re going to do one now.’” Just getting to the stage of hearing that he won the project at One Sarasota was big in itself for Obradovich. He spent a lot of time and effort and even enlisted the help of his distributor to get the gig. But once it started, a new set of challenges arrived. 

Signature Building
It’s easy to see why Obradovich’s heart was pounding at the thought of doing the One Sarasota Tower building. The building would be the crown jewel in his portfolio and it could serve as a great springboard for even more lucrative deals down the road. The 13-story building, which was built in 1988, cut quite an imposing figure on the bay. It housed some high-powered law firms and Smith Barney. “It’s the most prestigious office building in Sarasota,” says Tommy Shope, who handles West Coast Sales (in Florida) for Performance Film Distributing in Boynton Beach, Fla., and Obradovich’s distributor. “It overlooks the bay.”

The bay allowed One Sarasota Tower to offer amazing views, but it also made the building vulnerable. “Sarasota Bay is not very far from the Gulf [of Mexico] on that corner of the bay,” Shope says. “The main concern was that when a storm comes what kind of damage it would do.”

By tinting the building, Fossum also saw the opportunity to reduce costs. “We thought it could reduce wind insurance,” he says. “It also gives an added sense of safety to our tenants.”

But security was all Fossum really needed when it came to film. The solar part was already covered. “The building has sputter coated glass in it,” Shope says. “The glass is pretty efficient. That’s why they went with the clear film for security.”

Obradovich had been eyeing One Sarasota for a long time. A year and half before he started the job, he called to do a bid on it. Six months later, nothing came of it.

“You get one of 50 buildings [that you work for] and you dedicate tons of time and money into them,” Obradovich says. “I kept working on it and working on it. So I told them to give me a call if they decided to do something.”

That call never came. Instead, Obradovich got a letter in the mail inviting him to bid on the job.

“Thank God my personal assistant didn’t throw the letter away, because it looked like junk mail,” Obradovich says. “She gives me this letter and I open it up. It was an invitation to come back and rebid the project. It went from me doing all of those calls to now there are 12 people coming in to bid.”

Eleven other companies submitted bids for the project. Fossum’s group graded on a point system, rewarding the companies for tests, price and expense. Obradovich’s price actually wasn’t the cheapest. “When your building that lowball, you will cut corners,” Obradovich says. “Then they’re getting mad because your timeframe is not hitting the exact mark. If I need four extra guys because I’m a day behind, it’s covered [because he was making a livable margin].”

The Final Hurdle
Eventually, ICORR narrowed the list of competitors for One Sarasota to four. Obradovich made the cut and would have to make a presentation in front of the building’s management. He brought Shope along to help as well. This impressed Fossum. “The fact that he brought the manufacturers rep to us to explain the benefits of our product really went a long way for him,” Fossum says. “It definitely added to our confidence that he was going to do what it took to get this job done correctly and get the right products.”

Shope says he wasn’t there to offer moral support. He also helped answer questions and develop the presentation. “We had quite a bit of preparation,” Shope says. “We put together a pretty nice bid package and a three-ring binder with references, copies of testing data, summaries and some case studies.”

It’s a good thing Obradovich and Shope came armed with knowledge because ICORR had building engineers quizzing the duo. “They had more knowledge than anyone I’ve ever seen,” Obradovich says. “They knew about bomb testing. They knew what our product was based on.” Fossum’s team had an extensive list of questions and concerns. With views being so important at One Sarasota, clarity was a huge issue. He also wanted to know about CPFilms’ security track record. “In a security film situation, they want to know something about the manufacturer,” Shope says. “They typically want to know what kind of testing you passed. They were familiar with GSA testing and concerned about hurricane testing.”

The appearance of a particular silicone structural glazing sealant also concerned ICORR. “The problem [was] that the appearance is not always perfect,” Shope says. “This particular client wanted perfection. They didn’t want anything that was going to distract from the view through these windows.” So Obradovich and Shope brought in a product called BondKap. The product is essentially a plastic cap that goes over top of silicone to give the job a more finished factory look. “The more we talked about it, the more they said, ‘Yes, we have to have this,’” Shope says.

Obradovich also was realistic on time and cost. He wasn’t the cheapest and he wouldn’t set unrealistic timelines. “He was the only that said he couldn’t do this overnight,” Fossum says. “He said, ‘We need to apply this film and give it plenty of time to cure before we do the attachment system.’”

In the two and a half hours Obradovich and Shope fielded questions, the duo did a lot to impress Fossum. “It was all in how they explained the product, the process of applying it and how they were going to go through our building,” Fossum says. “This is a class-A building with class-A tenants. Their presentation included how they were going to take care of the tenants’ fixtures and be very clean about the process.”

The finalists all laid out their patterns (Obradovich was last) and then Fossum’s group cut the list to two. That’s when Obradovich got his fateful call.

The Job
Once Obradovich hung up with Fossum and realized he got the job at One Sarasota, all of his planning came together.

To start with, he’d have about 90 days to tint the building. His guys would work nights and weekends so they didn’t disturb the office workers. “I got my crew ready and I told them exactly what I was expecting—perfection,” Obradovich says. “I scheduled the exact number of days I needed to get things done. I let my crew leader know, if it’s not done within 10 hours, you work 12 hours. This is what needs to be done to keep our timeline exactly where I need it to be.”

To provide even more motivation, Obradovich made sure his guys had nice accommodations. He went down to Sarasota before the job began and got homes with swimming pools, hot tubs and marble bathrooms for his crew’s housing.

“For the first week, I was down there for seven days to make them know it had to go exactly right,” Obradovich says. “I had to tell them that this was beyond anything. This is something that can make a future.”

But some members of Obradovich’s team still didn’t completely grasp that concept. One of his workers used a tenant’s CD player in one of the offices. Although it didn’t sound like a big deal, Obradovich let him go. “I know that sounds harsh,” he says. “But they were instructed to not touch these people’s belongings. You can have everything running smooth and a couple of sour grapes can leave that bad taste in their mouths.”

With his guys working night and day, the actual filming of One Sarasota went ahead of schedule. In just about three weeks, Obradovich’s team finished filming the project. The office managers would come in behind his guys, making sure they did the job right.

“The filming went very quick,” Shope says. “We got all of the film up and allowed it to dry. Sometimes we use a silicone attachment. That seals off the edge of the film and you’re forcing the moisture to dry through the material itself. By leaving a daylight opening, it allows some of that water to permeate through the edges of the film, speeding up the drying process.”

After the film was up, the BondKap was custom-shipped to One Sarasota. It came to the job site pre-cut, so all Obradovich’s crew had to do was put it up, making it a little quicker. Obradovich also brought in Frank Fountas, designer of the BondKap, to show his crew the ropes. This was the first big project that used his BondKap product. “In doing that, it exposed a couple of guys to it,” Shope says. “He came down to get them trained.”

Obradovich’s company’s performance has opened even more doors for him with ICORR and Fossum, with whom he has become very close. He’s already looked at filming a 32-store business plaza for ICORR and expects more opportunities to come his way. “This is only the tip of the iceberg,” he says.

Five Tips for Landing the Big One
So you want to land a One Sarasota Tower-like deal with around 45,000 square feet of 8-mil film? You need to be prepared when you make the presentation. But, if you are, Earl Fossum, vice president for ICORR Properties, an owner of commercial real estate, says you have a shot at getting a big job. Here are his five tips for dealers pursuing commercial work:

  1. Know what you’re installing: “We look at the actual product they propose,” Fossum says. “Is it a known product or name?”
  2. Have experience: “Do they have a history in the industry?” Fossum asks.
  3. Make your customers happy: “Do they have references?” Fossum asks.
  4. Have a warranty: “Their guarantee on the product and their labor is important,” Fossum says.
  5. You don’t have to be the cheapest: “Price was an issue [at One Sarasota Tower],” Fossum says. “It wasn’t the issue. He [Jason Obradovich, who won the job] was not the cheapest.” 

 For further information, please visit Glass Coating Specialist Inc. at: www.SafetyForWindows.com

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