"This is, hands-down, the best networking event in our industry," said Chris Knitter of Central Pacific Glass Inc. of Kona, Hawaii. Knitter and two of his colleagues made the journey to the mainland for the tenth annual Building Envelope Contractors' (BEC) Conference.

"I used to go to the big glass show, but it has nothing on this," he added. "Now I just go to this."
Apogee CEO Russ Huffer concurred. "There is no other networking event like it," he said. "It really brings everyone together. It is a premier event."

The tenth-anniversary BEC saw the conference explode. More than 550 attended the event in Las Vegas, which closes this afternoon.

"We've gone global," said BEC division chair Max Perilstein of Arch Aluminum. "We've got representation from 34 states, three Canadian provinces and Ireland. We've also gotten our first international attendee this year."

So what were attendees talking about at the breaks? Well, for one topic, the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC). "We can't find any authority for NFRC to be attempting their work in the commercial industry," said GANA technical director during his presentation about the organization. Indeed, the NFRC had chosen to hold its own meeting at the same time-but 1,200 miles away in Austin, Texas (see related story below).

The re-emergence of Cardinal Glass as a supplier to the commercial market was also being discussed. "Residential is going soft," said one attendee, "so it makes sense."

Some were also talking about the departure on Friday of Fred Fulton (Jr., not Sr.) from Fulton Windows, which surprised many. The family-owned Fulton Windows was sold to Oldcastle more than a year ago.

Incoming GANA president Brad Austin of Viracon was excited about his company's new "baby"-the new plant opening in Utah in the next few months. And Alyssa Dlubak was discussing the market on the other side of the country. "We are watching the hurricane codes head North," she said. "Even New York and New Jersey will be seeing them soon," said Dlubak, who sells hurricane protection products in Florida for her Pennsylvania-based company. "This is my first time here," she said of the BEC Conference. "It's been a great experience."