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USGNN Original StoryBEC Conference Wraps Up in Las Vegas

The Building Envelope Contractors (BEC) Conference, sponsored by the BEC Division of the Glass Association of North America (GANA), wrapped up yesterday at the Palms in Las Vegas (Click on the video for a review of the conference).

The morning had kicked off with a speech from football legend Dick Vermeil. Vermeil spoke passionately on the principles of leadership, and shared stories from his time as coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, the Kansas City Chiefs and the St. Louis Rams, whom he led to Super Bowl victory. Vermeil told his audience of contract glaziers that a leader must like people and surround himself with people who like and trust people. He also told those potential leaders in the audience to always set a good example for others, and to create an atmosphere in which people enjoy working, such as by rewarding employees with recognition, appreciation and praise. Define, delegate and then lead, Vermeil also noted, and develop a leadership style or approach. Be sincere, was another word of advice; Vermeil added that establishing credibility is among the most important qualities of a leader. The former coach also noted, "You, as a leader, are never energy neutral." Whether providing positive energy or sapping it, the leader impacts the entire "team."

A notable leader from the glass industry, Russell Huffer, chief executive officer of Apogee Enterprises, took the stage following Vermeil.

Huffer got down to the basics of the goals of using glass: providing great aesthetics, creating a view and harvesting daylight. According to Huffer, this industry has more value than ever today due to the green movement.

"Natural daylight is the most efficient way to light a building's interior," Huffer explained.

On that note, he remarked that more than half of existing commercial building stock is single-pane glass, and that more than 65 percent is clear-coated glass. "Our marketplace is ripe with this opportunity," he said, urging contractors to focus on replacing inefficient stock.

And while photovoltaics (PV) in all of its uses, particularly as integrated into facades, is a hot topic within the industry right now, Huffer once again urged people to focus on established coating technologies rather than PV, which still has leaps and bounds to travel before having enough efficiency to truly be worthwhile.

"I think harvesting light is many more times efficient than the use of building integrated [PV] systems," Huffer said. (CLICK HERE to view a one-on-one interview with Huffer on energy efficiency from an earlier conference.)

Henry Taylor of Kawneer, and incoming chair of the BEC Division, summarized and elaborated upon a number of the key points discussed during the three days of presentations. He told listeners to plan for the worst and hope for the best when it comes to the next several months of the tightening economy. But then he reminded the audience of the cyclical nature of the industry by asking individuals to raise their hands if they had been in the industry for eight years, or 18, or 28-a smattering of hands even showed examples of professionals facing their 35th year in the industry-showing that industry members have survived these last four downturns. "We've got people in this room who lived through four of these and survived," Taylor said.

For the upcoming year, Taylor offered a few words of advice. First, he said, stay close to your banker. "Bankers can cause companies to go under," he said, making it key to be in communication with them.

Look at your general contractor, he advised. He recommended focusing on working with those contractors with whom you already have a good relationship-but to also introduce yourself to those particularly strong contractors out there. "Make sure you service them well," Taylor said. "I think servicing is going to be key over the next few years." He added, "Make sure you know the value you bring to your general contractor and relay that to him."

Taylor also advised glaziers to know their suppliers, and to work with those suppliers that offer products and technologies to differentiate your business.

"Now is the time to build networks," Taylor said. "Rely on them."

Stay tuned to™ for further interviews from the BEC Conference.

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