Continuous Education for the Built Environment at BEC 2020

Over 680 glass and glazing professionals slathered themselves in hand sanitizer and ran the coronavirus gauntlet to Nashville, TN succeeding in attracting the highest attendance in over a decade.

The fear is real and COVID-19 was the talk of the show until the tornados touched down, tragically killing 24 people, destroying hundreds of buildings and causing a state of emergency. As the twisters approached the JW Marriott around 1:00 AM local time, the hotel evacuated hundreds of guests to their basement for several hours. Black swan events tend to emphasize the big picture while underscoring that we truly need to be grateful during the good times.

“We have grown by over 100 attendees from last year,” said emcee and installation committee chair Matt Kamper of Woodbridge Glass Inc. “The theme of this year’s BEC conference is Glazing 2020: Advanced. Innovative. Complex. Your attendance in this conference is just one indication that the contract glazing industry is ready to kick it up a notch.”

“This years’ BEC has a new energy to it, due much in part to the highest attendance in over a decade,” shared Andrew Haring, VP of BD for the NGA. “This tells me a few things: the market is strong, NGA is reaching new companies, and people dig a non-Vegas venue. It’s always amazing to see folks take off their competitive hats for a few days and come together to share ideas to grow this industry together. It’s not only encouraging, but essential. This is what the National Glass Association is all about.”

Joe Puishys, CEO of Apogee Enterprises Inc. provided an excellent State of the Industry presentation. Apogee, a Binswanger supplier, was formed over 70 years ago. “We do everything but melt sand,” Puishys told the audience. Puishys also said he wasn’t an economist but he spends a lot of time reading economic reports. “There’s a question mark. Is our end market going to be robust foreseeable future? I’ll tell you that the last page in my book says yes.”

According to Puishys, approaching a score of 60 on the Architectural Billing Index (ABI) is overbuilding territory. “If you were to look at the ABI prior to the financial crisis, it was over 65. Most can hopefully attest that buildings are not going up on spec like 2007 and 2008. Most have a high lease rate of at least 70% with an anchor tenant before they build. We feel good about the ABI and it’s recently ticked up again. I think we’re bumping along the top. I think there’s some opportunity for low growth for the foreseeable future. Another two years maybe.”

Moderated by Sole Source Consulting’s Max Perilstein, the Navigating the Technology Landscape panel covered using innovation such as Building Information Modeling (BIM) 3-D rendering software and drones to inspect project quality.

“BIM is only at about 1% of its journey in our industry,” said Nick Bagatelos from Bagatelos Architectural Glass Systems.

Major League Baseball player Jim “The Rookie” Morris delivered a powerful keynote on Remembering Who You Are. “My definition of a Dream-Killer is someone who wants to see you fail. For whatever reason they tried and failed or was too afraid to try so if they can drag where they are, they feel better where they are.”

The first dream killer in Morris’ life was his father who was physically and verbally abusive. “I could not stand my father. The only way I could get away from him was in between the white lines of a ball field. Whether it was football, basketball or baseball, I did anything I could to stay out of the house. In between the white lines, I got to be the kid I was supposed to be. If only for two hours at a time.”

“Dream-Makers are people that want to see you succeed for no other reason that they want to see someone else go farther than they ever could,” said Morris. “Every day, my grandfather would teach me lessons to make me better person. He would say ‘You are born with your name and you die with your name. What you do with it in between is the legacy you leave behind for everybody else’”.

Additional sessions included panels on delegated design, understanding the mind of an architect, bird-friendly glazing, glass in architecture and much more. Save the date for the 25th Anniversary BEC, March 14-16 at Caesars Palace in Vegas where all bets are that things will be perfectly steady and completely normal with no catastrophes or contagions.