CEO, Paul Beers; Demonstrating a water test at the John Knox Village project.
GCI attended a trade show in Orlando for the FHEA, Florida Healthcare Engineering Association.
The following is an audio file or podcast of Paul Beers in an interview with Levante Business group. The text below is an outline of the interview with resources and notes.
Content Source = http://www.levantebusinessgroup.com/episode-005
In this episode we interview Paul Beers, founder of GCI Consultants. Paul shares his insights on starting and growing a successful consulting business.
Paul E. Beers established GCI Consultants in 1988. He has over 25 years experience in the window and glazing trade and with building envelopes. He is a leading expert with glazing systems and hurricane damage and protection. He was instrumental in the development and implementation of missile impact tests after Hurricane Andrew hit Dade County, FL. He has served as an expert witness in federal and circuit courts for windows, doors, glass and wall systems and water leakage. Over the past 17 years he has built GCI Consultants into a leader in the industry. GCI Consultants provides specialized consulting services for new and existing buildings world wide.
- Paul Beers started out as a construction laborer and carpenter during college, then moved into window installations. In the late 80’s he began to develop his expertise in building envelopes, including serving as an expert witness for water damaged properties.
- David Begin and Paul mentioned Strategic Coach. This program has helped him with goal setting, value creation and most importantly with understanding his unique abilities – focusing on what he is good at and building a team around him that compliment his skills.
- One of his biggest challenges early on in building his company was the transition from single-expert to a group of consultants working together.
- An ongoing challenge with a consulting organization like his is maintaining effective communication. They are a virtual company with employees in the field or working remotely. They can go up to a year at a time without seeing each other, and are always looking for ways to improve communications. Paul mentioned Basecamp as a tool they have used to help stay in touch on projects.
- His business is somewhat dependent on the economy, which requires careful planning and diversification to plan for the downturns. GCI has been able to do this and perform well in the boom times and during economic down cycles.
- What makes GCI unique? They fill a specific niche in their industry. They help clients reduce the risk and liability related to water penetration and damage to buildings. They are experts in a very specific area of the process – the building envelope. It’s about focusing on what they do well and complimenting the building process for a building owner, contractor, architect, engineer, etc. GCI understands how to save their clients money over the long-term by helping them reduce risk, helping prevent a catastrophic situation and avoid costly litigation.
- Paul has grown his business through client referrals. They deliver excellent customer service throughout the client engagement, which has resulted in a great reputation in the industry.
- What technology have they implemented at GCI to improve their operations? GCI has moved to a paperless office leveraging cloud-based systems and tools. This paperless approach has saved money, improved efficiency, and it’s also vastly more secure (from natural disasters like hurricanes!). They have used Upwork (formerly oDesk) to outsource administrative tasks, and Paul works with a virtual administrative assistant through Delegate Solutions.
- Find out more about Paul Beers and his company at the GCI Consultants Website .
By Paul E. Beers
They say there is no substitute for experience and when you get older you get wiser. I have been a businessman for over 35 years and a consultant for 27 of those. Over the years I have experienced success and failure. As time goes by there are a lot more successes than failures. And failure is not necessarily a bad thing if you learn from it. One takeaway after all these years is that if you define a desired outcome and focus on it, the chance for success greatly increases.
I participate in an entrepreneurial coaching program called Strategic Coach. They form workshop groups of successful entrepreneurs and meet four times a year to coach them with how to grow personally and professionally. They also provide tools to help grow and multiply. One of my favorite tools is called The Experience Transformer. It focuses on a past experience and you list out what went well and what didn’t. Then it asks: “if you could do this experience over again knowing what you know now, what would you do differently?” You list out the improvement ideas and then create a series of action steps to improve the experience next time around. After doing countless Experience Transformers, one improvement item that consistently appears is that I should focus on the outcome from the start, rather than taking a series of actions and then try to achieve it.
Over the years, we can look back and find many things that in hindsight, might have been done better. Implementation of new software, hiring or firing staff members, marketing campaigns, business processes, choosing office space, training, technology upgrades and many others are all things we probably could have done better at times. Thinking back, had we focused on the outcome we wanted to achieve from the onset, we would have gotten a better result.
Any new initiative can begin with focusing on the desired outcome. For example, let’s say that GCI wants to expand to a new territory and must develop new business in that area. Which do you think would work better? Hire a salesperson in the local market to go meet people and sign new work, or develop specific sales goals and then develop a plan for how to achieve them, which may include hiring one or more sales people in combination with a series of other actions? Obviously the latter, which starts with the outcome and then develops an action plan with a series of actions (which also should focus on outcomes). By the way – long ago we tried the first option and it, of course, didn’t work very well.
On the technical side, our clients always focus on the outcome. They don’t want water leaking into a building. Or, they want an exterior façade that can withstand hurricanes or earthquakes. However, where we see gaps are not developing a strategic plan around the desired outcome. Is it enough to hire an Architect and Contractor to take care of this? What about hiring specialty consultants? The answer is maybe. Hiring a team is a good start, but there must be an integrated plan in place that engages all of the stakeholders to team up and achieve the desired outcome on time and within budget.
At GCI, we train and mentor our staff to see the big picture and focus on a successful outcome. This starts with defining the desired outcome at the beginning of an assignment and providing guidance and leadership to the entire design and construction team to achieve it. We must always strive for the desired outcome regardless of any obstacles encountered along the way. When the project team works together, overcomes challenges and adversities, and stays focused on the desired results, the result is a successful project that everyone can be proud to have been a part of. GCI has been a part of successful projects time and time again and it is very fulfilling and rewarding.
Our company and team members are presently very busy and very successful. We are always looking for ways to improve both on the technical and business sides. We recently had our annual Company Meeting, which resulting in several exciting process improvement ideas, for which we have developed the desired outcomes and began development. We also are organizing an internal technical conference where we will bring in manufacturers and technical experts, so our team can stay on the cutting edge of advancements in our industry. On jobsites and in business, I sometimes hear “that is how we have always done it.” Well, the status quo represents stagnation and to grow, one must seek out new opportunities and focus on the desired outcome.
Unfortunately, not all construction projects result in buildings that perform according to the owner’s expectations. Because of the complexity and countless variables in materials and labor that are involved in a typical construction project, it’s possible that something may go wrong. Proper diagnosis of the problem after the fact, and developing a reasonable resolution, is advantageous to everyone involved. As a result, litigation support is becoming an increasingly important segment of the services offered by GCI.
One of the most difficult aspects in litigation support cases involves overcoming allegations from experts who have deemed certain building products as defective in design, manufacture, or installation, when in fact they haven’t performed a complete analysis to determine the root causes of the issue. For example, one of the most common allegations we see at GCI is that water leakage enters a building. However, many different construction materials and laborers are involved in the construction of most buildings and the result is that all the materials need to work together in order to perform properly. Unfortunately, some experts support their claim by performing improper water tests, including testing at locations where leakage has never occurred before, which only serves to demonstrate that they can make a leak occur instead of determining why a leak occurs. In addition, we often see that the expert fails to perform the type of exploratory evaluation that’s necessary to uncover the defect that allows the leakage, and to determine which materials or processes are responsible. Instead they make an allegation that is too often based on speculation. Such an investigation is not particularly helpful, making resolution of the problem more difficult because of the many different parties involved, and as a result, the owner still fails to achieve their original expectation of a building that performs as required.
The GCI Difference
GCI often becomes involved in litigation representation because of incomplete work by other expert firms that has resulted in unsubstantiated allegations. When these experts allege a defect, such as water leakage, without a thorough analysis of causation, GCI is called on to determine whether a particular party has responsibility.
At GCI we have a team of experienced litigation support experts with decades of experience in the building industry. Our goal in each of our projects is to determine if the party we are representing has any responsibility in the alleged defect. We look to answer the following questions:
- Who is responsible?
- Was the product manufactured incorrectly?
- Was there a design defect?
GCI has worked with a number of different parties including building owners, developers, architects, contractors, product manufacturers, subcontractors, etc. But no matter who is paying for our services, we consider the “truth” to ultimately be our client. This allows our team to be completely transparent, regardless of the outcome.
Large Window and Door Installer
Recently GCI was asked to represent a dealer and installer of windows and doors in a multi-party lawsuit, which outlined alleged defects in the construction of a multi-million dollar estate. As is often the case with projects that we work on, while there were major allegations against our client, there was little in the way of direct proof that our client was responsible for the alleged defective materials or workmanship.
The owner of the estate hired an engineering firm that conducted water testing at several windows and doors, which ultimately led the owner to decide to have all the windows and doors removed and replaced. After an analysis of the testing, GCI was able to demonstrate at trial that the testing completed by the engineer was improper and that the allegations were without merit, resulting in a jury verdict in favor of the window and door installer.
Services provided by GCI’s litigation support team for this project:
- Forensic Inspections and Observations
- Document Review
- Product Review and Analysis
- Expert Testimony
Introducing Michael Bowie
With more than 35 years of experience, Michael has worked in all facets of the construction industry. He brings a unique perspective on issues that affect commercial and residential structures. He has a long track record of managing litigation work for a variety of construction and exterior building product manufacturers. He is highly skilled in corporate risk prevention, mitigation and management for the building industry having held a previous role as Director of Claims & Risk Management for a major manufacturer of exterior building products. During his tenure as such, he conducted claims administration audits, hundreds of inspections and established protocol and procedures to insure adherence to special account instructions and claims handling. Additionally, he has assisted in the development of window installation best practices to reduce warranty claims and to mitigate litigation expense. He is well accomplished in contractor and employee relations with a forte in corporate strategic planning that brings an additional expertise to the GCI team.
Hurricane Preparedness for Homeowners in Preparation of Tropical Storm Erika Making Landfall in Florida
As Tropical Storm Erika heads towards the Caribbean homeowners in Florida and other affected areas should ensure they are protected from the worst possible scenario. The hurricane preparedness experts at GCI Consultants, LLC (GCI) have put together a few tips to ensure your home is properly prepared for a severe hurricane.
Understand Potential Threats
When dealing with a hurricane the three most common threats to property as well as people are wind, wind-borne debris and storm surge. Homes that were not designed to withstand hurricane effects are the most likely structures to be damaged in a severe storm.
Wind pressure is an extremely powerful force of nature. Wind alone can cause the failure of windows, doors and glass as well as the loss of roof coverings. Windows and doors should all be locked and secured prior to a storm, preferably with storm shutters, if available. Window film or tape can also be used to reduce the amount of flying glass in the event of failure, but these materials do not add any additional strength to glass.
Do not attempt to open a door or window during the peak of a severe storm. If you are worried that a door or window may be vulnerable to blowing out it’s best to go somewhere in your home that does not have any windows with the doors closed.
Dangers of Wind-Borne Debris
If Tropical Storm Erika is upgraded to a hurricane and heads towards Florida, wind-borne debris could be a problem. Wind-borne debris consists of any items blowing around during a severe storm. These items could be roof coverings, garbage cans, pieces blown off of buildings, outdoor furniture and plants or vegetation.
Diminishing wind-borne debris is most often done through proper housekeeping prior to the storm. Make sure to bring in any loose objects from outside prior to a storm. It’s also smart to check your neighbors’ homes to ensure that they do not have any objects outdoors that could potentially cause damage if they became airborne during a storm.
The best protection from wind-borne debris is either properly designed and installed hurricane impact windows with laminated glass or storm shutters. If you don’t have storm shutters you can attempt to board up your windows, but it’s important that the boards are well secured or they can come off and become windborne debris themselves. Organizations such as FEMA and the American Plywood Association provide information online about how to properly protect glass windows and doors.
Storm Surges Are Extremely Powerful
If you live in a flood prone evacuation zone and are in the path of a severe storm you should evacuate immediately. Storm surge is extremely powerful and can wash homes or buildings completely off of their foundations during a violent storm.
GCI is a consulting firm that specializes in the exterior building envelope including windows, doors, glass, exterior wall systems and roofs. See www.gciconsultants.com for more information about GCI.
By Shauna Sproul
Field testing of building exteriors for water penetration, frequently simply called “water testing,” is essential for identifying manufacturing and construction defects in windows, doors, skylights, and other openings in the building envelope. For example, a window might leak due to problems with installation of waterproofing and perimeter sealant details, or because of improper materials or methods used by the plant during manufacturing.
Many clients come to us for one-day water testing, conducted upon the completion of construction. While such tests are certainly useful and productive, earlier engagement in the process can help contractors and building owners avoid costly, more complex issues frequently uncovered during one-day tests.
Water testing determines the resistance of manufactured windows, curtain walls, skylights, and doors to water penetration. Proper water testing methodology follows the protocols set forth in the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) E 1105 standard. Under that standard, water penetration failure occurs when water leaks beyond a plane parallel to the vertical plane of the assembly’s innermost projection, not including interior trim and hardware.
While the test is a field version of laboratory certification tests and simulates the conditions of a wind-driven rain storm, laboratory testing itself of glazing systems and other building assemblies cannot reflect field testing results. Materials and methods used in construction can significantly affect their performance in actual use. Events occurring between shipping and installation as well as environmental influences can all have a negative impact on component and system performance.
How it’s done
Water testing measures penetration by applying water to the outdoor face and exposed edges of the tested assembly with a static external air pressure higher than the pressure on the indoor face. Not only will it determine resistance of assembly components themselves, it can also reveal leakage between those assemblies and the surfaces in which they are installed. While a manufactured component may successfully meet ASTM E 1105 water testing criteria against leakage into the building itself, water may penetrate an assembly, leading to degraded performance of materials.
Water testing is typically conducted by sealing a chamber to the interior face of the assembly tested, then exhausting the air from that chamber to produce pressure differentials similar to those produced by weather. A rack of calibrated water nozzles sprays water at the proper rate on the exterior surface. The air pressure differential may be uniform (constant) or cyclic (varied). It’s important to note that air pressure varies greatly across the building envelope and the water testing methods applied should incorporate an understanding of that variation. Though water testing uses similar equipment, air infiltration measurement is not included as part of the procedure.
When to test
Water testing may be conducted any time between initial assembly installation and construction completion. However, earlier and repeated testing is advisable for multiple reasons. Tests conducted upon initial installation provide easier inspection of interior surfaces for penetration and to identify the precise point(s) of penetration. More importantly, with early testing, fabrication and installation problems can be discovered at a time when corrections are more easily made and at much lower expense since no interior wall components must be removed and replaced.
While building codes may not require it, every new construction project should be water tested regardless of size. No project is too large or too small. Many smaller projects don’t incorporate water testing simply to keep construction costs lower. Any financial advantage disappears, however, if windows or doors start to leak and water testing reveals hidden problems. The cost of water damage and remediation can greatly exceed the cost of early testing and consultation.
The ideal time to start water testing is when the first few glazing systems are installed. Not only are problems more easily detected, design and potentially recurring issues can be corrected going forward. Contractors and owners who rely on one-day water testing only when the project nears completion may be unnecessarily adding risk and cost to their construction projects.
Better still, engaging the full scope of services of a building envelope consulting firm like GCI can help identify water penetration and other building envelope issues at the planning and specification stage. It simply makes more sense to solve water issues in a project’s development and before testing, not after leakage has occurred in a nearly completed building and added water damage to the combined problems. Some potential leakage problems can be solved before windows and other assemblies have even been ordered.
The ASTM Standard is used for both the one-day testing and in the testing we would do on a full scope project, yielding the same results. The concern is we cannot always fix the issues easily with a one-day test because the building is closed up and all the windows have already been installed. In a full scope job we would test early enough to get the issues resolved before all the windows would go in.