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You Bet Your Glass: August 2013

A worthy winner


August 12, 2013
By Frank Fulton

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For as long as the Ontario Glass and Metal Association and its
predecessor, the Metro Toronto Glass Association have been in existence,
making charitable donations to the benefit of childrens’ needs has been
an ongoing top priority.

For as long as the Ontario Glass and Metal Association and its predecessor, the Metro Toronto Glass Association have been in existence, making charitable donations to the benefit of childrens’ needs has been an ongoing top priority. The funding for donations comes from proceeds from events and from members’ dues.

This year, in addition to childrens’ charities, in order to further support the development of our industry, the OGMA introduced a bursary award to benefit students in the architectural metal and glazing trade. The OGMA approached the Ontario Industrial and Finishing Skills Centre and together worked out the details for the bursary. The award will be given twice per year to the glazier apprentice student who fulfills the criteria as set out by the school, those being initiative, attitude, helping others and volunteerism. The course instructors are solely responsible for determining the winner of the award.

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The winner of the inaugural OGMA Award of Excellence bursary is a fine young gentleman by the name of Brad Bida from Thunder Bay, Ont. Brad proudly received the award and a commemorative plaque from the OGMA at its spring golf tournament in May. I had the pleasure of playing golf with and getting to know Brad that day. It became obvious quite quickly that Brad had spent more time handling glazing tools than golf tools during the past few years.

The glazing trade is actually a new start in life for Bida. Brad had started his working career with a diploma in Environmental Engineering Technology and pursued that career for nine years.

He held a number of positions in that field including government contracts, highway construction, and mining. Unfortunately however, the mining company he was working with became insolvent and Brad suddenly found himself looking for work.

In November 2008, Frontier Glass in Thunder Bay needed an extra set of hands for a few weeks to help fabricate a curtainwall project.  Brad jumped at the opportunity and started by drilling hundreds of countersunk holes. It didn’t take long for him to discover that he loved the tools and the variety of work in the glazing trade. So impressed by his work ethic, Frontier found a way to keep Brad on and he now has four and a half years experience in the glass trade and is set to become a journeyman this summer. Says Bida, “The switch in trades had a steep learning curve – work anywhere, anytime, in any weather, and get the job done. I’ve enjoyed the challenges at all the positions I’ve held, but feel that the glass trade is the place to invest my time for the future.”

Brad completed his third and final level of apprenticeship training in April, and his trainers at the Ontario Industrial Finishing Skills Centre had high praise for the first-time bursary winner.  Steve Laird, glazing health and safety instructor, stated “I consider Brad Bida to be a very well-rounded tradesperson. He has proven his knowledge, has experience in and shows interest in all aspects of the glazing profession including curtainwall, store fronts, and mirrors. Brad has the attitude that he was here to learn and if he did not understand something he would not hesitate to ask, but if he did know the material he would help others to understand. Brad stayed after school to help tutor other students and came in on Fridays to assist the instructors in preparing the shop for student instruction. All in all Brad has been a pleasure to work with and I wish him well in the future.”

Working in the architectural metal and glazing field, while difficult at times, is challenging, rewarding, and never dull. The OGMA is grateful to the OIFSC for selecting such a deserving recipient for the bursary in Brad Bida and we look forward to supporting future students for years to come.

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 fultech.fc@gmail.com


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