GlassBuild: glazing Executives Forum highlights productivity, solar and estimating

Industry representatives from contract glazing firms, material suppliers and related industry companies gathered at the 5th Annual Glazing Executives Forum (GEF), during GlassBuild America.
The GEF a…

Industry representatives from contract glazing firms, material suppliers and related industry companies gathered at the 5th Annual Glazing Executives Forum (GEF), during GlassBuild America. The GEF agenda included several presentations and eight breakout sessions that provided an opportunity for company officials to discuss top issues in a round-table format. Jason Baumgarten, principal, FMI Corp., Denver, started the day with a presentation about productivity, explaining how companies can effectively improve productivity, and in turn profits. Baumgarten recommends companies aim to increase productivity by 10%, providing an example of a hypothetical glazing firm with USD 50 million in annual sales. A 10% increase in productivity for a company of this size would reduce labour costs from USD 20 million to USD 18 million. Companies operating in a “reactive mode“ have the most need to productivity improvements, Baumgarten said. Some signs of reactive operations include: o moving field managers and crews from site to site frequently; o project managers who are constantly on radio and phone; o numerous emergencies or last-minute needs from shop or vendors; o large numbers of small purchases made in the field; o little or no formalization processes. One of the most effective ways to increase productivity is to improve pre-job planning through pre-job planning meetings with company managers and on-the-job personnel. Baumgarten also recommended that glaziers get educated and informed about Building Information Modeling. About 30 GEF attendees sat in on the Building Integrated Photovoltaic breakout session. While only two attendees had bid a project for BIPV, most expressed interest in the opportunities solar holds for the contract glazing industry. Grid parity, when solar electricity would be cost-equivalent to electricity from other sources, could be achieved as early as 2015, due to reducing solar product prices, and continued increases in utility costs. While most attendees were confident about the potential opportunities in solar, they did express concerns. One attendee asked about BIPV installation certification requirements, which don“t currently exist, but will likely be coming. Another attendee questioned whether BIPV is just for the largest contract glazing firms who have sufficient manpower to handle the education and training. During the well-attended breakout session Best Practices in Estimating, contract glaziers discussed an increasingly difficult world of estimating. With fewer available jobs, more firms are bidding each job, and price is the determining factor. Almost all attendees reported that they are winning less than 10% of the jobs they bid. Several glaziers said they now are starting to get jobs that were originally given to another company. Additional breakout sessions included Software and Front Office Tools, Managing Labor Productivity Costs, Thermal Performance and Codes, Retrofitting and Your Business, Material Damage on Construction Sites, and Contracts and Legal Issues.