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Report from the FGIA Fall Conference


November 2, 2020
By FGIA

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The Fenestration and Glazing Industry Alliance held its Fall Conference from Oct. 6 to 8. Here are some highlights from the event.

Keynote speaker Dr. Chris Kuehl discussed post-COVID-19 economy

An economist gave an assessment of the current economy and what the industry might expect from an eventual post-COVID economy during the keynote address at the Fenestration and Glazing Industry Alliance (FGIA) Virtual Fall Conference. “The impact this current recession has had will either push us back to where we were in 2019 or continue into 2021, 2022,” said Dr. Chris Kuehl, a managing director of Armada Corporate Intelligence, who provides forecasts and strategic guidance for a wide variety of corporate clients around the world.

Kuehl noted, while his presentation’s title suggested that the pandemic might be at a place where some answers can be gleaned, “we are still waiting for the post-COVID economy. A lot depends on the next six months.”

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“In order for recovery to take place, consumers must consume,” explained Kuehl. “We saw people spending their money early on when the bailout package went out.”

However, he noted, this recession has been an unusual one in many ways, including the fact that it was not a collapse nor was it imposed. “We don’t know how it ends,” he said.

With the construction industry specifically, Kuehl saw a decline in home pricing as well as “significant declines” in non-residential building activity.

“Homes finally became more affordable over the past year,” said Kuehl. “We have seen forecasts predicting a decline in pricing but not dropping to the point we saw in 2008 and 2009.”

And, though 2020 was expected to be a year of modest growth for non-residential building activity, now significant declines are expected, said Kuehl.

Expert shared tips for safety awareness in the pandemic

Michael Cook, an industry professional with more than 36 years of health and safety experience shared his company’s best practices for keeping plant workers safe during the spread of COVID-19. Cook, the corporate safety director for Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope, called on employers to do all they can to adapt workspaces and ensure their employees’ safety in the pandemic.

He began with a reflection on January 1, 2020, when things in the world were somewhat normal – there was the hint of a pandemic spreading, but it was not touching most.

“It all fell off the cliff in the first quarter of 2020,” said Cook.

Now, said Cook, “there appears to be no end in sight while the world hears warning of a possible second wave this fall and winter. These threats to day-to-day operations have meant the introduction of and adherence to pandemic safety procedures in the workplace, necessary in order to keep businesses working.”

His advice to those at the conference included ways to minimize interactions with others on the plant floor, increase workspaces between employees and, most importantly, ensure they feel safe coming to work.

Cook said Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope increased its cleaning schedules, especially in high-contact areas, which are now cleaned multiple times a day. “Physical markers in the plants are important,” said Cook, along with signage to remind people to practice social distancing.

Another thing his company chose to do is offer more paid leave. “We already had paid leave, but we increased it to up to 14 days so people don’t feel pressured to come to work sick,” said Cook.

Cook also suggested taking a look at the possible economic toll for further incentive to act.

“During this time of uncertainty, people need to be reassured,” said Cook. “People want to earn a paycheck and come into work with a sense of normalcy. They need to be safe.”

Builder Matt Risinger praised high-performing fenestrations of the future

A high-end builder in Austin, TX, shared the fenestration trends he has seen in the U.S. when it comes to building performance during the Fenestration and Glazing Industry Alliance (FGIA) Virtual Fall Conference. Matt Risinger is the host of the popular YouTube Channel, The Build Show, where he talks about building science, craftsmanship and best practices for building and remodelling. According to Risinger, there has been an increase in questions on his channel from builders about high-performing products.

Risinger, who previously spoke at the 2019 Fall Conference, has been in the construction industry for 25 years.

He noted that he had benefited from observing Milgard Windows and Doors, an FGIA member company, which uses the InstallationMasters program. This FGIA installer training, developed from industry-accepted installation practices, emphasizes the importance of proper installation of windows and doors.

Risinger then shared some fenestration trends he has seen in the field that require particular attention to installation, including lift and slide doors, shed roofs and peel-and-sticks replacing traditional house wraps. He has also noticed homes without overhangs gaining popularity. However, he warned that houses with no overhang, or even ones with too short of an overhang, may be more susceptible to water infiltration issues.

“No overhang houses are doing bigger and bigger glass for a contemporary, modern style,” Risinger said. “But with that type of exposure, you better pay really close attention to the install.”

As far as trends in materials, Risinger stated his case for triple-glazed profiles and high-performing products in general. “I want builders to demand a higher quality product that will perform better,” Risinger said. “I think people will be willing to pay for higher performance.”

In closing, Risinger said if manufacturers build such products, they would see the demand rise. “People care about indoor air quality and having a healthy, energy-efficient home,” he said.

Oak Moser offered leadership advice for increasing influence

A senior management professional experienced in leading and coaching teams shared tips for how to increase one’s influence over others at the Fenestration and Glazing Industry Alliance  Virtual Fall Conference. Leadership coach with Coaching 2 Connect, Oak Moser, facilitates FGIA’s Leadership Development Program and previewed the third installment of the program during the event. Moser provided steps in setting expectations with others professionally and personally, including connecting with people of different personality and communication styles, leveraging the strengths that go along with those styles and understanding the current state of relationships within what he called the four levels of leadership.

Moser said influence comes from understanding one’s self and understanding others, and from an ability to influence outcomes that are beneficial to all involved.

Moser listed the four levels of leadership:

  • Level One: Title or Position – People follow you because they have to.
  • Level Two: Relationship Influence – People follow you because they want to.
  • Level Three: Performance – People follow you because of what you do and how you do it.
  • Level Four: Multiplier – People follow you because of who you are and what you can do for them.

When it comes to building successful teams that perform, Moser said the most important thing is to find team members who share a common vision. “Misalignment with a vision can cause problems,” he said, adding that a sense of purpose is what team members want most.

Leaders must be committed to developing their people, Moser noted. He encourages leaders to ask themselves what their team members are good at, whether it is a hard or soft skill. “Leaders must have a process to develop skills for each team member,” he said. “Even if you didn’t pick a team member, you still have an obligation to develop their skills inventory.”

Moser recommended leaders find people with the character and the emotional intelligence they want. “Everything rises and falls with the quality of the leadership,” he said.

William Babbington shared fenestration, glazing commercial design trends

Those participating in the Fenestration and Glazing Industry Alliance  Virtual Fall Conference heard from an architect and engineer about commercial design trends. William Babbington, AIA, PE, LEED AP BD+C at Studio NYL, shared insights into some of the more frequently seen and requested exterior trends within fenestration and glazing, including frameless glass options, bird-friendly glass and more.

Babbington described Studio NYL as “design-oriented, but also collaborative with architects and fabricators.” To understand trends, Babbington said, one needs to understand the goals and drivers behind them. “Typically, these are energy, durability and comfort,” he said. With this, Babbington shared several patterns he is seeing.

  • Frameless Glass Options: While Babbington conceded that going frameless is not the least expensive option, he recommended fabricators and installers get more comfortable with the concept. “We have been seeing more and more of them out there,” he said. “Put insurance on it until you get comfortable with it.” One advantage of frameless glass, according to Babbington, is that the visual appeal can stand out. “You are paying for all that glass, so let’s actually see it,” he said. “Get as much of the frame obstruction out of the way.”
  • Vacuum Insulated Glazing Units: Another product Babbington recommended manufacturers research is vacuum insulated glazing (VIG) units. “Start on the smaller production level and learn the technology and quality control,” suggested Babbington. “You’re looking at a much higher thermal performance and a much smaller area.” Using these products in historic projects, or those in which the load cannot be increased from a structural standpoint, one can upgrade the energy efficiency without having do a full-structural retrofit, said Babbington.
  • Bird-friendly Glass: Bird-friendly glass is getting more traction, especially in California and New York, reported Babbington. “It works for bird strike prevention. And the industry is offering more options to bring to market and making designers and owners more aware of it,” said Babbington. He suggested designers work bird-friendly glass into their designs. “[Municipalities] recognize the importance of it, but they are making it an attainable requirement,” said Babbington.
  • Codes: Babbington reported those working to update codes are doing their best to simplify things. “I know people focusing on fenestration are trying to make it much more straight-forward at least on the prescriptive paths,” he said. “We are seeing more energy models being done on the buildings, allowing us to be more accurate in terms of the actual energy performance.”
  • Communication: Additionally, Babbington noted that communication gaps between the manufacturer, fabricator, installer and designer are all getting much tighter. “That’s really resulting in a better product in the end,” he said and used the example of manufacturers making high-performing glass that also has the benefit of visual clarity. “Manufacturers are getting much savvier in terms of increasing glass flatness and clarity in a consistent manner,” he noted.