FGIA Returns to Pre-COVID StrengthFebruary 15th, 2023 by Drew Vass, Executive Editor
It’s cool and cloudy in San Diego this week—not the conditions that officials for the Fenestration & Glazing Industry Alliance (FGIA) had hoped for when they chose the location for this year’s annual conference. But inside, “So far, the event looks great,” said Florica Vlad, FGIA’s meetings manager, adding, “Everything but the weather. But I’m not in charge of that.”
“I was really excited [to come to San Diego] because it’s going to be 56 degrees in Iowa this week,” joked Dan Parrish, chairperson of the FGIA board of directors and engineering manager for Pella Corp. “But it’s always good to be in San Diego.”
With approximately 320 attendees on site, FGIA’s event has returned to within 10% of its usual in-person attendance prior to the pandemic, officials said in an opening session.
“For the first time, we can say that we’re back to pre-Covid years,” Vlad said.
But the alliance has also learned to extend its reach, thanks in part to the pandemic. Through a virtual format implemented amid shutdowns, the event is now able to present a more robust lineup by running remote and in-person sessions in tandem. A hybrid format added around 150 remote attendees to this year’s conference, for a total of 470. The push toward hybrid events is just one “silver lining” to result from several tough years of adaptation, said FGIA executive director Janice Yglesias. Another small remnant from the pandemic includes the availability of online materials via QR codes placed throughout the event. “Thank you to the restaurant industry for teaching us how to use these,” she said.
In addition to rebounding attendance, FGIA has also gained “stable and healthy product certification programs,” Yglesias told attendees. Recovery of participation in its educational programs has also nearly doubled from 2021 to 2022, she said, especially within the alliance’s InstallationMasters program, which it recently expanded. After reviewing feedback from members revealing interest among a broader range of professionals, FGIA added a second program, dubbed Certified Professional. The new program opens participation to those who work within the industry but do not have the one year of experience in product installation required by the InstallationMaster program. The target audience includes those with an interest in demonstrating expertise across areas such as marketing, sales and administration.
At the same time, Yglesias discussed a new $1,000 grant, established in honor of Bill Briese, former research and development engineering manager for GED Integrated Solutions, who passed away in June 2022. A grant offered in Briese’s name is available to industry professionals, she said, including a $1,000 per company, per year, to be used for educational programs. In addition to Briese, Yglesias also paused to remember Mark Fortun, former manager of code compliance and certification at Endura Products, who passed away in December, and technical writer and internal auditor Jerry Stanbrough, who served FGIA as a ghost writer for many years.
Following an identity change resulting from the merger of the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) and the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance (IGMA) to form FGIA in January 2020, Yglesias said the alliance is undergoing a significant analysis to determine the current state of brand awareness. From the merger, it has retained member companies spanning as far back as 65 years, she said. Awards were issued to a total of 42 companies for their longstanding participation, including five with membership histories spanning more than 30 years.
So far as the weather in San Diego is concerned, that’s subjective, said Rick Mathews, a regional sales manager for Erdman Automation. “I live in Ohio, so I haven’t golfed in quite a while,” Mathews said, who participated in FGIA’s golf outing (despite the conditions). “It was really nice,” he said.
The conference is taking place through Thursday, Feb. 16. Look to [DWM] for additional coverage from San Diego.