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FGIA Virtual Conference Highlights Leadership, Manufacturing and Management during COVID-19

The Fenestration & Glazing Industry Alliance hosted its Virtual Summer Conference June 23-25. The FGIA was formed in January 2020 with the unification of the American Architectural Manufacturers Association and the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance. 

FGIA adapted and moved the conference online due to the coronavirus. The conference maintained its traditional programming, such as regulatory and certification program updates. However, a major focus of the content was challenges facing companies in the COVID-19 world. The event featured a panel about manufacturing during coronavirus, a session about financial relief programs and a keynote on managing a remote workforce. 

Managing a remote workforce 

Attendees heard a presentation from Lisa Sterling, founder and CEO of R3-Engage, on ways to cultivate a successful remote workforce, keep employees physically and mentally well and properly re-integrate employees into an office setting. Sterling advised that the current work from home experience many are living today is not a normal representation of what remote employment is and suggested employers give their workers the tools and resources they need to succeed in the face of current uncertainty.

“There is opportunity in all of this,” said Sterling. “But look at our current state of wellbeing. Burnout is occurring as people are working longer days. Millions of individuals and families are dealing with financial implications of unemployment heightening stress levels.”

Sterling advised employers to ask themselves three questions:

  1. How can you cultivate a successful remote workforce?
  2. How can you help employees maintain a healthy wellbeing?
  3. Down the road, how will you effectively re-integrate employees back into the office?

“The decisions you make in the coming weeks and months will impact your employment brand for years to come,” Sterling said. Read more…

Managing manufacturing operations

During the panel “Managing Manufacturing Operations and Customer Connections Through the COVID-19 Crisis,” five FGIA members discussed ideas implemented by their companies to protect their workforce and manage day-to-day operations under various COVID-19 restrictions, including what they learned along the way. The panel, moderated by Danny Smith, vice president, principal and industry advisory at Ceridian, included: Lisa Bergeron, director of business development and regulatory affairs at Jeld-Wen; Richard Braunstein, vice president, research and development at Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope; Jeff Jackson, president and CEO at PGT Innovations; Greg Lambas, senior director of window and casework development at Katerra; and Matt Nuss, vice president of operations at Vitrum Glass Group.

The discussion was broken into two parts: Part One asked panelists about current operations, posing questions such as what the status of their workforces is in terms of morale, health and recruitment or furloughs. Smith also asked about lessons learned, best practices and what panelists’ biggest challenges have been. Part Two asked panelists about the future and what they saw for their operations and the industry down the road. Questions included: What are expected long term impacts for the workforce? What changes have you made that you expect to be permanent? Where are opportunities down the road? Read more…

Financial relief programs

The conference hosted a panel discussion of financial relief programs for U.S. and Canada. Moderated by Paula Goedert, Barnes & Thornburg, the panel featured Mary Comazzi, also of Barnes & Thornburg, and Karen Cooper, Drache Aptowitzer. 

In the U.S., relief programs include the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loans. Comazzi noted that the deadline to apply for PPP loans is June 30. Businesses can also look to the Payroll Tax Deferral Program, in which employers may defer payment of payroll taxes; the Employee Retention Tax Credit, where employers receive a tax credit based on compensation paid to employees during COVID-19; and the Main Street Business Finance Program. 

Canadian relief programs include the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and Temporary Wage Subsidy, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, and Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance. The primary focus for businesses is the CEWS, which provides a 75 percent wage subsidy from the government for up to 24 weeks for qualifying businesses. Qualifying businesses include individuals, taxable corporations, partnerships, non-profits and charities that see a year-over-year reduction of gross revenues of at least 30 percent in March, April or May. Read more...

Leadership during COVID-19

Participants heard a keynote address from a former Chicago Bears NFL player at the Fenestration and Glazing Industry Alliance Virtual Summer Conference. Longtime defensive tackle Dan Hampton, known as “Danimal,” spoke about the importance of leadership, particularly the ability to adapt to changean especially important skill now, during COVID-19.

“As we know, change is always changing,” said Hampton. “You gotta be able to think on your feet.” Read more...


FGIA Executive Director Janice Yglesias provided several updates on the organization’s education activities. FGIA’s Fenestration Masters v2.0 Master and Associate coursework is now available, said Yglesias. Additionally, she announced online options for several education programs: Installation Masters transitioned into virtual classes, with in-person classes still available; the Preventing IG Failures program, formerly part of IGMA, is available through online training videos; and the Coaching2Connect Leadership Development Program offers webinar-based training modules. 

FGIA’s next event, the Fall Conference, has also transitioned to a virtual event, scheduled for Oct. 6-8. For more information, visit