GANA Contract Glazing Education Conference Begins in Dallas

Steve BarberThe Glass Association of North America's 2006 Contract Glazing Educational Conference is currently taking place in Dallas.

The event began yesterday with a tour of nearby Vistawall Architectural Products in Terrell, Texas. With one-half million square feet of space under one roof, those on the tour were split into several groups and taken through the plant. They were able to witness such areas as cutting, painting and anodizing.

Today began with a presentation on what makes a good product manager lead by Steve Barber of Arcadia Products Inc. Barber said he wanted the presentation to be interactive, and with that encouraged dialogue among attendees by asking them questions. The group discussed the importance of hard skills and soft skills. Hard skills are the most visible and are more easily taught and learned through training. Soft skills are interactive skills and are people related. They involve teamwork, communication and leadership.

Vistawall Tour"They can help build trust with the customer," said Barber.

George Crow with McCarthy Construction, a general contractor, agreed, and said that in many cases they will ask to work with project managers they know and have worked with in the past.

Barber said there are five crucial soft skills for project managers:

  1. Be a forward thinker. In other words know not only where you are now, but also where you want to be. Think about tomorrow and the future and what you need to do to get there.
  2. Write two letters ahead. When communicating with customers, know what the response is that you want to receive. When writing (e-mails as well) you are informing, requesting or directing your needs. Also pay attention to your tone, especially when writing emails or via Blackberries, as it can be misleading.
  3. Be a problem solver. Already have a solution in mind when you're presenting the issues. Barber also encouraged working with others involved to find the answers. "You don't have to have all the answers," he said.
  4. Know your project scope. Know what it is that you have to, whether it involves specifications, contract documents, proposals, architectural drawings or structural drawings. Also know and be aware of the scope of adjacent trades (i.e. masonry).
  5. Communication. You need to be able to work well with customers and all parties you have to deal with.
    Barber concluded saying, "Interpersonal, problem solving and communication: this is what makes a good project manager."

In addition to Barber's presentation several others took place this morning. Some of the discussions included topics on fire-rated glazing, contracts and bid qualifications, spandrel glass and project start-ups.

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