From BEC, Industry Panel Targets Supply, Performance and Coordination

By Katy Devlin, Glass Magazine
March 6, 2018

From left, Jeff Haber, W&W Glass; Keith Boswell, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP; Jeff Heymann, Benson Industries; Paul Goudeau, Saint-Gobain; Joe Conover, Clark Construction.


More than 500 glass industry representatives gathered in Las Vegas this week for the 2018 Building Envelope Contractors Conference, hosted by the now-combined National Glass Association and Glass Association of North America. The event offers glazing contractors and industry suppliers insights on tackling challenges and tracking trends in the advancing architectural glass industry.

Highlighting the first full day of the conference was the State of the Industry Panel: Challenges, Trends & Market Perspectives, where a cross section of the building project team discussed communication challenges, increasing complexity, supply chain and more. Jeff Haber, managing partner of W&W Glass, served as moderator for the panel, which included Keith Boswell, technical partner, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP; Jeff Heymann, vice president of business development, Benson Industries; Paul Goudeau, international development director, glass, Saint-Gobain; and Joe Conover, vice president, Clark Construction.

Project teams face notable hurdles as project complexity increases, and as the industry faces issues such as the labor shortage and supply chain challenges. Panelists said that project success is dependent on clear communication—“learning the language of the other players on the job,” according to one panelist.

Successful communication allows teams to find the balance between aesthetics and performance—bringing the design vision to life, while meeting all performance requirements, according to the panel. “Aesthetics and performance—we try and combine both. … We are mitigating the [architect’s] vision with industrial capability. It can be a challenge,” said Saint-Gobain’s Goudeau.

“We get to be the sheriff,” said Conover. “We’re responsible for maintaining the budget and the schedule. We have responsibilities to the owner to be a good steward of their money. We have responsibility to our design-build partners to preserve the integrity of the design. We have responsibility downstream to protect our trade partners and vendors.”

Communication among project team members also ensures the team can address supply logistics earlier in the process, according to the panel. “This is key in success of a project. It needs to be worked out reasonably well in advance, so you don’t have a missing piece of glass on project,” said Goudeau.

Supply chain management has become even more challenging, between the continued shortage of labor and an increase of imported products, according to Benson’s Heymann. “Schedule is the most important thing to understand,” Heymann said. “We have seen more glass coming in from offshore, but it adds a level of complexity, longer initial lead times. What happens when there is a breakdown in supply chain? Broken glass in the factory? How do you handle?”

Heymann continued, “you have to work it through. This requires more project management. We’re all searching feverishly for qualified people. … Now you put the complexity of that on top of international supply. It’s not easy.”

Collaboration also allows teams to address the integration of systems and wall types. “This is one of the key things we look at early on in design. … When we’ve got designs [that] have multiple groups doing the enclosure, it’s always about the intersection,” said SOM’s Boswell.

“Everybody does a great job from edge of system to edge of system. Nobody wants to join. … We really to try to coordinate and get input from both sides of the joint,” said Conover.

The panel also included project considerations specifically for glazing contractors. Clark Construction’s Conover offered insights on how general contractors select glazing firms for projects. “For me, I try to get to know façade trade partners as intimately as I can, so we know what’s in your wheelhouse. … Is the size job appropriate? Is the complexity of job appropriate?”

Conover continued, “at the end of the day, it’s not always about the dollars. It is easy to get the dollars at the beginning of job right. It’s not so easy to get the dollars at the end of the job right. That’s our goal.”

For glazing contractors looking to move into larger, more complex jobs, Conover recommended that companies not “bite off more than you can chew. It’s important that you’re successful. The last thing you want to do is take on a job too complex, too large.”

BEC concludes March 6. Check out Glass Magazine's live Twitter coverage for additional news from the conference.