Challenging storefronts

July 15, 2009

University of South Florida Marshall Center in Tampa.
  • Read the related storefront Q&A with Mike Tracy of Trainor Glass, Alsip, Ill.

Q&A with Alvaro Correa, project manager, West Tampa Glass, Tampa, Fla.


What are the challenges you see when it comes to storefront jobs?

In Florida, the water performance of window systems is of the most importance. One of the biggest challenges is complying with water performance requirements when the client does not want to use a good product due to cost issues. If a project is located in an impact zone, there are even more requirements to consider.

Are there challenges coordinating products from so many suppliers?

When we order storefront systems, we usually use one supplier. The advantage of this is that we can offer the same finish and look to the customer, and these companies have all the miscellaneous components--gaskets, setting blocks--for the storefront to work. The coordination is more to make sure we order the right part for the right system.

What do you do when not everything marries up on the job site?

I don’t think there is a glazing project that hasn’t presented a surprise in the field that didn’t need to be addressed. When this happens, you have to analyze what the problem is, whose work is involved, who created the problem and what it means to everybody involved. If the issue is minor and within your control, go to the general contractor and offer a solution for them to approve. It is important to have a written acceptance of the GC on any deviation from the original contract documents, otherwise you’ll be on your own and it will bite you at the end.

How do you overcome these challenges?

Communication and being proactive is very important, not only with the general contractor, but with your field guys. If there is anything that deviates from the approved shop drawings, the guys in the field have to let you know, so you can analyze what is different and go back to the general contractor to determine what happened. Sometimes, depending on the contract, you can offer supervision or field dimensioning to make sure that everything is ready when it's time for you to show up in the field. It is not common to have this option in the contract, so the communication between the field, office and general contractor is key to prevent any mishaps.

Do you have a recent example of a storefront job that presented you with notable hurdles?

The most trouble we had recently in a project was with the delivery time from the vendor. We were promised a delivery time of four weeks and it went up to eight weeks with no notice. Explaining this to the general contractor was not easy.

Do you fabricate any of your own metal products?

We fabricate in-house for storefront and curtain wall projects. For storefront we have recently used the Trifab VG 450 back set storefront system from [Kawneer Co., Norcross, Ga.], and the YKK YHS 50 and YKK YES 45F-S from [YKK AP, Austell, Ga.]. The advantage of in-house fabrication is that we can control it to offer a better quality assurance following our established procedures, and have a better response when a problem arises in the field. Generally field dimensioning is big on storefront projects since the openings are not always guaranteed. Having control and rapid response from the fabrication crew gives you piece of mind.

Can you give an example of a recent storefront job that went smoothly?

Recently we finished the USF Marshall Center in Tampa and used the Kawneer Trifab VG 450 back set storefront system. This particular case was a non-impact project and the openings were included in the contract as guaranteed openings. This helped immensely to the progress of the storefront part of the project. By the time the openings were ready for us, we had the front of the openings protected, organized and ready for all the pre-glazed storefront panels. The fabrication of the system--sizes for metal and glass--was done according to the approved shop drawings and there was no time wasted assembling metal in the field and then going back to glaze them.