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That’s Rich: Friends in high places

As soon as I walked into the lobby I could tell I was not in Coquitlam any more.

June 14, 2022  By Rich Porayko

Blame it all on my roots, I showed up in boots. The 2022 Building Envelope Conference was an outstanding affair. I cannot say enough good things about it. But boy, was I rusty. Am I doing this right? Where am I supposed to go? What is “ArriveCan?” What’s the deal with COVID testing and the U.S.? How do I get home? Granted, this was late March so all travel restrictions were still in place but basic decisions like what time to set the alarm to make my flight to Bellingham, Wash., was more challenging than I recalled. Naturally, I overcompensated. Not only did I get there in time to cross the border and make my 07:50 flight, I easily had enough time to get gas, lounge around and still make the 06:30 flight. For around a half-hour, I was the only passenger in the entire BLI departure area. It was glorious. Aside from the fact that I was out of practice, the travel experience was mostly a piece of candy. After convincing myself that I had to be missing some crucial fine print from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the sole border guard waved me through, I was the only person in security at the airport and no one anywhere ever asked me for any testing or to see my vax pass. I’d go so far as to even say that it was a smooth experience. Until I landed in Seattle. I’ve come to realize that although I love to travel, I hate to fly. Okay, not really. Flying is fine but I didn’t miss the whole parking, checking in, security, killing time, boarding, and stopovers part of travelling. I compare it to skiing or snowboarding, which I also love. Otherwise well-educated people suddenly lose their ability to perform the most basic organizational tasks.

The last time most conference attendees I spoke with were in NashVegas was for BEC in March 2020, at the beginning of the corona-nightmare when 25 people were killed during an EF3 tornado. It was traumatic and I know I wasn’t the only person who felt a huge sense of redemption and triumph returning to a packed conference of almost 650 friends and colleagues two crazy years later. As soon as I walked into the hotel lobby I could tell I wasn’t in Coquitlam anymore. Not one person was wearing a mask and people were staring at me. I ditched the mask and pretended like I owned the joint. It felt really good.

I caught up with the brilliant Stanley Yee for dinner and instantly remembered how much I missed face-to-face networking. Being dedicated workers, we shut it down early to be ready for an early Tennessee hot chicken brunch with Twitter’s #GlassGrillingGroup. Technically, I was “uninvited” and “crashed” the private breakfast, however I was with Stanley, so I was golden. Next thing you know, I’m having spicy hot chicken eggs benny with some of the biggest names in the industry watching NGA vice president Andrew Haring instantly regret sampling Party Fowl’s Poultrygeist hot sauce. Breakfast was worth the trip on its own. A quick visit to the Country Music Hall of Fame and lunch at Jason Aldean’s with my boy Earl Mercado and then it was go-time with wall-to-wall VIPs for the next 60 hours. Meetings, sessions, receptions, repeat. Nothing replaces facetime with customers like Binswanger Glass and suppliers like Guardian and Vitro. The networking at BEC, especially the opening welcome reception, is nothing short of world-class.

Bourbon, bourbon, bourbon. Although Goldray’s legendary Bourbon QuickFrost Challenge was informative, tasty, and refreshing, I was disappointed to learn that Canadian whiskey is not considered a true whiskey like Scotch, Bourbon, and Irish whiskey. What the hell? In fact, the professional taster compared Canadian whiskey to the CFL.


Sure, I made rookie mistakes forgetting my jerry cans, leaving my hat in security (which I got back four days later!), booking a middle seat, walking through an alarmed emergency exit, and screwing up my ArriveCan app, but the rest of the event was amazing. Not just the booze and the schmooze, it is the people, the products, and the projects. There is way, way more to glass than clear windows. It’s a lifestyle. If you are considering a career change, I highly recommend the glass life.

Rich Porayko is a professional writer and founding partner of Construction Creative, a marketing and communications company. richp@constructioncreativecom

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