More than 500 glass industry representatives gathered in Las Vegas earlier this week for the 2018 Building Envelope Contractors (BEC) Conference, hosted by the now-combined National Glass Association and Glass Association of North America.
The event, held from March 4 – 6, reflected focused input from glazing contractor volunteers to better meet the education and informational needs of this industry segment. This year’s event also saw increased participation by glass fabricators, among other suppliers to the building envelope market.
“Over the last five years, the glazing industry has pretty much doubled. We’ve come out of recession. We’re in a room of over 500 people,” said Jeff Haber, managing partner of W&W Glass.
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.
Haber 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. Read in-depth coverage from the panel at GlassMagazine.com.
Conference attendees also heard two stand-out presentations addressing the critical and timely issue of labor, specifically employee recruitment, retention and management.
The well-received keynote speaker Jeff Havens offered insights on, and solutions for, generational issues in the workplace, and Tom Jackson, president of Steel Encounters, discussed Employee Engagement & Retention: Keep & Grow Your Best Team.
“How do we build great company culture? ... How do we create a culture that attracts talent; encourages everyone to be their best at work; [build] a place where everyone rises to the occasion,” said Jackson.
The packed conference agenda included need-to-know updates on energy code and standard changes, a look at performance of glazing systems following the active 2017 hurricane season, and a discussion about the importance of acoustic control. “Noise pollution is a major, major concern today,” says Julia Schimmelpenningh, global applications manager for Eastman Chemical Co. “Noise pollution causes psychological and physiological impairments. It has social implications—it causes irritability and affects the ability to learn.”
Other notable conference highlights included an impressive display of projects demonstrating what’s possible with curved glass, a panel discussing jobsite fixes and installation issues, and a look at emerging trends and performance demands for glass doors, entrances and hardware.
Tabletop exhibitors reported strong customer interactions before, during and after the presentations.
The BEC Conference is the first industry event from the now-combined National Glass Association and Glass Association of North America.
The NGA and GANA officially merged on Feb. 1. Schimmelpenningh, who also serves as spokesperson for the NGA-GANA Integration Task Force (ITF), called on attendees to reach out to ITF members and NGA staff with questions and suggestions for the newly combined association. “We want to make this the most excellent organization that we can for you as members and for the industry,” Schimmelpenningh said.
A post-event survey to attendees will help inform improvements for next year’s BEC Conference to be held in Las Vegas, March 10-12, 2019.