GEF Breakout Sessions Discuss Best Practices, Safety
September 13, 2011

By Sahely Mukerji

About 25 people attended the breakout session "Best Practices in Estimating: Keeping Your Eye on the Ball" on September 12. The session was part of the 6th Glazing Executive's Forum (GEF) held during GlassBuild America, September 12-14 in Atlanta. Anthony Callas of Heinaman Contract Glazing in Lake Forest, Calif., led the session.

To do good business, Callas pointed out a few dos: manage calendar workload; price each scope item; strategize workload sharing; know what factors can appear suddenly and after a good bid; know the cost of money over time; know direct labor is only part, track labor codes; and a few don'ts: wait to do the job; square foot pricing; neglect your work load assignment; unforeseen short notice cost escalations; forget to account for hidden costs; forget about labor overhead; neglect labor allocations.

Also, keep in mind material cost changes, Callas says. "Maintain a file of the material change letters and emails for glass and aluminum. Keep clients informed these material cost changes. The London Metal Exchange price graphs are good sources for aluminum," he says.

Choose a supplier based on his performance, your relationship with him, local to jobsite, reliability, price and responsiveness, Callas says. Choose systems based on engineering, fabrication, installation and freight. "See the whole picture, not just initial cost."

Foreign suppliers have to be handled differently than a domestic supplier, Callas says. "Consider risk assessment including, payment terms, inconsistent paperwork (ordered vs. shipper vs. counted); damaged material; slow replacement material; delays at custom; multiple carriers required; changes without notice; language and cultural barriers; no guarantees for legal remedies; warranty reliability."

When doing risk assessment, look out for the things that you love about your supplier, namely, relationship, performance, reliability and responsiveness, he says.

"No supplier is perfect," Callas says. "Know where their faults are. Make sure you have sufficient cost for managing that supplier through that job. Really try to consider who is going to provide the best opportunity within budget. Think how they're going to do if something goes wrong. That is really important."

Be aware of hidden costs of finance, establish mark-up percentage and avoid the under-bid down spiral, Callas says. "Always establish a goal and action plans. Set realistic goals and develop a growth model."

Check market indicators, such as the GNP and the Architecture Billings Index (ABI). "Analyze ABI behavior per region. When ABI's down, construction's down, and vice-versa. Keep an eye on unemployment from the Labor department," Callas says.

Mike Burk, product specialist – insulating glass systems of Engineered Products Group at Quanex Building Products in Cambridge, Ohio, talked about worker safety in his presentation "Safety and the Bottom Line."

"Fourteen workers die every day in the U.S., says Hilda Solis, United States Secretary of Labor," Burk says. "In 2006, 5 million people died in the U.S., and 2 percent of those deaths were work-related." Some occupations are more fatal than others. Fishers and related fishing workers have the highest rate of fatality. "By industry, construction had the highest death rates in 2008," he says. "The highest manners of injuries were transportation incident, about 41 percent, and fall, another13 percent."

A glazier's job is even more risky, because they face the danger of glass, Burk says. "Never try to stop a falling glass, because it could be fatal. Let it fall, get out of the way."

To minimize accidents in the work place, train workers, follow the rules even when the general contractor doesn't seem to want to, Burk says. Take advantage of resources, such as the OSHA training programs. In order to reduce lacerations, have your workers wear personal protective equipment for critical body parts, such as the wrist, neck, inner leg and underarms, he says. "Those have major arteries. If they're cut, you have about 10 minutes." To reduce crash injuries, use suction cups, know weight, obstacles, clear the path, and always let glass fall, never try to stop it with your body.

"All injuries can be prevented," Burk says. "All exposures can be safe guarded. Management has the responsibility to train its workers, and working safety is a condition of employment.

"Don't get comfortable. Don't ever let your guard down. Always stay aware, and watch and warn your co-workers," Burk concludes.

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