Inland Glass and Aluminum is an architectural aluminum and glass construction company specializing in unitized curtain wall systems. That means glass bolstered by metal. This company’s combination of experience and cutting edge technology won’t shatter, reports Dan Harvey.
Throughout western Canada and the Pacific Northwest – and even beyond those boundaries – Inland Glass and Aluminum Ltd. (IGA), is recognized as an innovative glazing contractor and the most aggressively progressive supplier of custom architectural products.
“We engage in the most complex, unitized projects, and this involves aluminum and curtain wall manufacturing, as well as installation, a critical part of a project,” says Gary Lawrence, co-owner and vice president of business development of a company that boasts nearly 40 years of experience.
IGA – headquartered in Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada – integrates its extensive experience with the latest advances in technology (e.g., BIM), providing a wide range of quality products and a comprehensive menu of services customized to meet clients’ specific needs. No project is too large or too complex.
“We establish hands-on relationships with all customers. Along with our technology – which impacts the design and drafting stage – and our automated fabrication with precise machinery, that’s one of the most significant we offer,” says Lawrence.
Whenever a project requires custom architectural aluminum glazing, IGA works with western North America’s largest construction contractors to ensure that needs are met. Project range is as extensive as IGA’s capabilities and includes institutional facilities, hospitals, airports, educational institutions, commercial sites, offices, storefronts, residential structures and public infrastructure.
“Our reach is national [Canada], North America and international, particularly Southeast Asia,” informs Lawrence.
Working with clients every step of the way, IGA provides the following services: project management, pre-construction planning, Green Tech/LEEDS, 3D modeling and BIM, and design assist. A compelling element of its service range is curtain wall installation. Today, this can involve the complete envelopment of buildings in large panels of glass, an approach that offers environmental, structural and aesthetic benefits. Think of it as a glass “skin,” with pieces fitting together like a jigsaw puzzle. Indeed, the glazier trade – perceived as both an art and science – has come a long way.
From Local Shop to International Business
IGA’s mission began in 1974 when Frank Luciani – the recently retired president and CEO – established the company as a sole proprietorship. He had accumulated more than 40 years experience in the commercial glazing world, and he worked with four other people and his wife. She handled the books; Luciani handled the passion. His drive transformed IGA from a local shop into a fully fledged international business, with locations in Canada and the United States.
In 2000, these locations were amalgamated to serve the expanding commercial glazing industry. Along with this merging, Luciani formed a business partnership with IGA veterans Lawrence and Regan Loehr. The new relationships enhanced IGA’s reputation as a leading innovator in the aluminum and curtain wall installation business sector.
Early on, the company successfully sought out government and commercial projects in British Columbia’s interior region. Today – through the integration of leading edge technologies, proactive management and a highly skilled workforce – IGA provides creative, cost-effective solutions to a wide variety of aluminum product installation challenges. These solutions incorporate experience with advanced technology (i.e., computer software and mechanical innovation).
As co-owner Lawrence indicates, IGA is there from pre-construction straight through to installation – partnering with clients to exceed expectations related to budget, quality and on-time delivery. It all begins with the pre-construction budgeting and design assistance and carries through to the actual installation (windows, entrances, sunshades, curtain walls, etc.).
Lawrence is directly involved with the pre-construction phase. His estimating team helps clients achieve project goals – no matter how complex – within budget expectations.
- Budget development – to establish a project’s maximum price;
- Scheduling – development of a realistic schedule that includes drawing engineering processes, mockup drawings and testing, product procurement, manufacturing, and installation;
- Value engineering – which entails a cost-saving analysis, product selection, and project revisions; and
- System detailing – which means structural recommendations and engineering analysis, thermal energy modeling, LEED recommendations and “Green” initiatives, design assistance and application on framing, and anchor particulars and anchorage-point recommendations.
A subsequent phase involves BIM/WD modeling. Through the use of 3D modeling and compatible software programs, IGA’s design team communicates directly with the client to better determine specific needs. BIM deployment assesses building design and performance requirements. This ensures identification of required modifications well in advance of manufacturing and installation. Ever innovative, IGA became an early adopter of the technology. Further, the company spent several years developing in-house expertise to install aluminum products in a BIM environment.
Another significant service relates to sustainability: “Green” technology/LEEDS. Indeed, IGA recognizes that sustainability and conservation has become essential practices in today’s business and industry world. To reduce unnecessary production of raw materials, the company maintains strict procedures related to purchasing and material management. This decreases demand on natural resources at the source. The company has completed projects at the LEED Platinum and Gold levels, offering experience and in-depth understanding of its role in the overall process.
“As much as 75 percent of the work we do is now LEED projects,” reports Lawrence.
“We have grown our staff to accommodate the changes witnessed in our industry,” says Lawrence. “We now have about 160 employees – between the office, manufacturing, and field environments.”
The company boasts long-term employees who deploy their knowledge and experience to move the company forward. “One of the reasons we witness a low-turnover rate is the exceptional work environment we’ve developed.”
Within this environment safety is a major focus. “And that relates to both the manufacturing floor and out in the field,” reveals Lawrence. “Our QC/QA program has been modeled to suit every project. We also meet customers own requirements, which can be quite stringent.”
Also, COR certification demonstrates IGA’s commitment to national health and safety standards, which has resulted in an excellent safety record and a remarkable staff retention level.
“Employees are our greatest resource, so we make it a top priority to keep them safe,” says Lawrence.
The employees return the consideration by exhibiting loyalty and a strong work ethic. “They help us ensure that every project is done right – and done right the first time,” says Lawrence.
Further, IGA has created a progressive, proactive work environment that provides employees ongoing opportunities to develop skills and grow. That translates into job satisfaction; and satisfaction further translates into retention.
In recent years, IGA has faced its share of challenges. “Growth was substantially down in 2010 and 2011, and that wasn’t just due to global economic circumstances,” relates Lawrence. “We also faced the challenge of highly [government] subsidized Chinese competitors entering the marketplace.”
But IGA is responding with what it does best. “We will continue strengthening our relationships with clients, and we will keep our company on the leading edge of technology.”
Further, it will back up its claims. “What we say we will provide, we will – and certainly – can provide. In this way, we will exceed customer expectations.”
That’s what IGA has done in the past. There’s no reason to fear it will not continue doing so in the future.