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Education, training critical to industry survival

Post Time:Nov 12,2013Classify:Industry NewsView:88

Glass companies today face labor shortages, toughened codes and standards, and ever-increasing demands from architects and building owners. The only way for companies to survive, let alone prosper, is through training and education, speakers said during the Midwest Glass Conference Oct. 19 in Shakopee, Minn. “In flat glass, there’s an unbelievable range of systems and sealants, new ranges of equipment, and complex codes and safety requirements,” said Mike Schmaltz, executive director of the Eden Prairie-based Minnesota Glass Association, the sponsor of the event. “It’s not a backyard mechanics’ world anymore. We’re in a world that calls for professionals and active [industry] organizations.” The complexity of the industry has changed the role for glass companies on projects, said Leon Silverstein, president of Arch Aluminum & Glass Co. in Tamarac, Fla. Architects, owners and general contractors expect glass suppliers and glaziers to understand the codes and have complete knowledge of the new products and technology on the market. “Ten years ago, the idea of putting resources into education for architects would have been laughed at,” Silverstein said. “But today, we are the educators, and expertise is one of the most important things. We must have the tools, and we must have the information to educate.” Silverstein said Arch Aluminum & Glass sees this increased reliance on glass company education in Florida jobs all the time. “Jobs are won and lost based on a company’s understanding of impact codes,” he said. Silverstein recommends glass companies get involved in industry education and training conferences and seminars to ensure employees have the most up-to-date knowledge. Larger companies, in turn, can pass that information along to architects through the American Institute of Architects of Washington, D.C., continuing education program. Carl Tompkins, western states area manager and national AGR special programs manager for Sika Corp. of Madison Heights, Mich., said thorough employee training and education will also help companies keep employees. “I hear people say they can’t find good help—that the only people coming in have no respect and no experience,” Tompkins said. “You don’t find good people. You make good people. Take time, educate and train, they’ll be dedicated to you for the rest of their lives.”

—By Katy Devlin, e-Newsletter editor, e-glass weekly

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