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You Bet Your Glass: June 2011

Apathy will kill you

June 10, 2011  By Frank Fulton

In my last column we looked at how the passing of legislation in certain
jurisdictions in the U.S. has led to the opening of litigation
floodgates, washing away legions of window and glazing companies

In my last column we looked at how the passing of legislation in certain jurisdictions in the U.S. has led to the opening of litigation floodgates, washing away legions of window and glazing companies. It got me wondering why nobody seemed to see this coming or take any action to head it off.

Let’s face it, the glass and glazing contracting industries in the U.S. and Canada are not much more than a disjointed rag-tag collection of individual companies. There is no strong collective voice standing up to protect the rights and interests of companies in the industry. Unlike the electrical and mechanical trades, our industry commands nowhere near the amount of respect it should, considering the level of expertise and skill that goes into our trade.

Because of the way bureaucracies, governments and standard-writing organizations function in Canada, our industry could be at risk of legislation similar to that recently enacted in the U.S. In Canada’s industry, the organization does not exist with the strength, the industry backing and sufficient resources to protect our interests.


So, who is to blame for allowing your business to be in such a tenuous situation, just one faceless committee vote away from introducing crippling legislation or building code changes? It is you, the person who does not support your association, who contributes to the overall apathetic nature of our industry and puts us all at risk.

Sure, we have the Canadian Glass Association, made up of glass associations in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario. Glass companies in Manitoba and all points east of Ontario have no representation whatsoever. The thing that disturbs me most is that there are at least 1,500 companies in Ontario in the glass, metal, and related products industries, and only about six per cent of those are members of the two associations that are trying to represent them, the Ontario Glass and Metal Association and the Architectural Glass and Metal Contractors Association.

The glass associations in Canada do the best they can with dedicated volunteers from the industry, but for the most part the money, resources and wherewithal necessary to safeguard our industry and your business at the jurisdictional level are just not there. Our industry can only be as strong as you are willing to make it through membership in your local association and participation in its boards, committees and events. All things considered, membership is pretty cheap insurance.

This all brings me around to the recent Glass Connections 2011 conference in Toronto in May put on by the Canadian Glass Association with the OGMA and AGMCA as host associations.

I had the pleasure of attending the event in Toronto and I must say that it exceeded my expectations by leaps and bounds. All five presenters were knowledgeable and articulate and their topics were very interesting and informative, at some points spellbinding, at others funny, but always entertaining. Although it was a very full day, it never seemed to drag, and some of the presentations seemed to come to an end before you had heard enough. It really was that good, and a refreshing change from the daily grind.

The only thing missing from this great event was representation from our industry in Ontario, the very people it was meant to promote. Just over 100 people signed up to attend, and of those maybe 20 were glazing contractors, maybe less. Quite frankly, the lack of participation was a huge disappointment.

Participation in our industry associations makes us all stronger. The only way they will be there for you in the future when you need them is if you support them now. •

Frank Fulton is president of Fultech Fenestration Consulting. He has
been in the industry for 30 years and can be reached via e-mail at

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