™ Talks with Linda Vos-Graham on the Importance of Networking
August 12, 2010

Linda Vos-Graham, president of the glazing contractor Vos Glass Inc. in Grand Rapids, Mich., was elected vice president of the American Subcontractors Association (ASA) of Michigan earlier this month. The group focuses on topics such as prompt pay, change orders, contract language and negotiations, design build, project management and emerging trends in construction. Vos-Graham recently spoke with the USGlass News Network (™) to share her thoughts on the importance of working with associations.

USGNN: When and why did you first get involved in associations such as ASA and the Michigan Glass Association (MGA)?

LVG: In 1991, the MGA was starting to unite the glazing industry in Michigan. At that time, there were three glazing organizations: the Detroit Glass Dealers Association, the MGA and a union contract glazing association in the Detroit area. The issues of the time required unification of the glazing industry of the entire state to get the political attention needed to make change. This was the driving reason for my dedication of time and money to the MGA ... I am very proud to have played such an important role in forming MGA, passing important legislation and providing a platform for our industry to be heard. Vos Glass is still an active member today.

I was elected to the Associated Builders and Contractors of Western Michigan. (ABCWM) board in 1999. This gave me a great opportunity to meet industry leaders and to educate myself on the complexities of the local construction community.

In 2008, I was approached to join a newly forming subcontractor organization. My first thoughts were that it would be an overlap of services by these other organizations. I couldn't have been more wrong. The ASA of Michigan has been a great value to me and to Vos Glass Inc.

As my roles have changed at Vos Glass so did my personal involvement in trade organizations.

USGNN: Why is it important for glazing contractors to be involved in associations such as ASA?

LVG: I believe that by working together we can accomplish changes that are impossible to do individually. This is one reason why I am active in trade associations. Every trade association has different strengths and offers different value. The key is to become involved and to get the most of your membership.

Bonding and communicating with other subcontractors is invaluable. ASA of Michigan arranges regular monthly meetings that provide the opportunity to learn the most current and the most important information and practices that will help one to become more successful. Included are such topics as LEED, BIM, contracts, legal issues and liens.

The ASA is priceless because of the dedication and willingness of its members to share experiences and learn from each other. Subcontractors have challenges unique to them. I dedicate about one to two hours weekly to the association to make it stronger and more valuable.

In addition to the planned program learning activities, the opportunities for networking and informal exchange of information are significant.

ASA also provides websites and publications with exclusive, valuable information. It also has a library of articles and research papers available to members.

USGNN: What is one issue you're looking forward to addressing this year as vice president of the Michigan ASA?

LVG: One of the new important projects of ASA of Michigan, that I am chairing, is the Contractor of the Year awards. The best prepared contractors I know are engaging with key trade associations to stay informed. Also, they are increasing their time attending local and regional economic presentations.

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